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Discourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy online

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session of comparatively very few. This observation may be illus-
trated by the following extract from Dr. Paley, in which he argues
the unity of Deity from the simplicity and uniformity of astronomical

laws : " Of the unity of Deity, the proof is, the uniformity of plan

observable in the universe. The universe itself is a system : each
part either depending upon other parts, or being connected with other
parts by some common law of motion, or by the presence of some
common substance. One principle of gravitation causes a stone to
drop towards the earth, and the moon to wheel round it. One law
of attraction carries all the planets about the sun. This philoso-
phers demonstrate. There are also other points of agreement among
them, which may be considered as marks of the identity of their ori-
gin, and of their common Author. In all are found the eonveniency
ftnd stability derived from gravitation. They all experience the vi-

4:00 NOTES.

cissitutles of days and nights, and changes of season. They all, at
least Jupiter, Mars, and Venus, have the same advantages from their
atmosphere as mc Imve. In all the planets the axes of rotation are
permanent. Nothing is more probable, than that the same attracting
influence, acting according to the same rule, reaches to the fixed stars :
but if this be only probable, another thing is certain, viz. that the
same element of light does. The light from a fixed star affects our
eyes in the same manner, is refracted and reflected according to the
same laws, as the light of a candle. The velocity of the light is also
the same as the velocity of the light of the sun reflected from the sa-
tellites of Jupiter. The heat of the sun, in kind, differs nothing from
the heat of a coal fire," &c. Paley's Nat. Theol. chap. xxv. The
reasoning in this passage, like the reasoning in general of the same
interesting work, is logical and conclusive. But it must strike every
reader, that the principal facts on which it rests belong to an advanc-
ed period of philosophical discovery ; that the argument, in truth,
could not have been constructed as it is, before the time of Sir Isaac
Newton. It is one advantage, and none of the least, arising from the
progressive advancement of the science of nature, that it throws the
light of illustration and evidence on subjects which ought to be of all
others the most interesting to the human mind. Yet, if arguments
like that above quoted were necessary to ascertain from nature the
great doctrine of the Divine unity, we could hardly wonder at the pre-
vailing ignorance of this doctrine among the mass of mankind. And
more than this — infidel philosophers, it may be remarked, have no
cause to triumph in such reasonings, as if they w ere fair criteria of
the length to which the light of nature, on these subjects, is capable
of carrying the human mind. They are the reasonings of a man,
possessing and believing Divine revelation ; previously satisfied from
this source, of the tnilh of those views of Deity which he is engaged
in demonstrating from another. There is a most material difference
between a person in this situation, whose object is to point out the
conformity between the decisions of revelation and the dictates of
reason, and the man who is left to grope his way by the light of rea-
son alone. To those, indeed, who candidly consider the use made,
by philosophers who were destitute of revelation, of that portion of
science which they did possess, it will, perhaps, be matter of more
than doubt, as 1 confess it is w ith myself, whether, supposing the
progress of science the same as it has been, but the light of revela-
tion still withheld, such reasonings as those of Dr. Palcy and others,
M'ould ever have come to be framed. In whatever degree we may

NOTES. 401

be indebted to Christianity for the discovery of the facts on which
these reasonings are chiefly founded — (and when I consider the in-
fluence which the progress of Christian truth has uniformly had in
promoting the advancement of learning, and of improvement of every
kind, I am disposed ta think the obligation is not small)—,! am fully
satisfied that we owe, in a great degree, to this cause, the right ap-
plication of the tacts, when discovered, to points of religious truth.
The striking fact, that the progress of science, apart from revelation,
produced, in those nations where it was most remarkable, no improve-
ment ^in religious knowledge and worship, gives no inconsiderable
weight to the doubts which 1 have just expressed.

Note B. page 59.

It is quite enough for my present purpose, that " the Word " is
ascertained to be, in this passage of John's gospel, a Title given to
Christ. The questions as to the origin and import of the title have
no immediate connexion with my argument. I may shortly observe,
however, that as there is no suflicient evidence of the Evangelists
having been acquainted with the writings either of Philo the Jew, or
of Plato the Heathen philosopher; so there is no necessity for the sup-
position that this phraseology was borrowed from any such source.
On the contrary : as the phrase " the Word of Jehovah " is ascertain-
ed to have been common among the Jewish people, and to have been
used by their writers, when they quote passages from the Old Testa-
ment Scriptures, in which the Name of Jehovah occurs, as an equiva-
lent for that name : (Lardner's Hist, of Apostles and Evangelists, in
Bishop Watson's Theol. Tracts, Vol. II. p. 16G. Text and Note.) and
as the Jews, consequently were accustomed to speak of the word of
the Lord under epithets of a personal nature ascribing to it personal
and even Divine characters : — the probability is, that, as not only
Plato, but Zeno, and other Greek philosophers, had intercourse with
the Jews, and borrowed from them various notions, which they mix-
ed up, in a corrupted form, into a heterogeneous compound witli
their own philosophy ; — the probability, I say, is, that this is the true
origin of such phraseology, in t' .e writings of Plato and of the Stoics.
Perhaps it is going to the opposite extreme from those who think the
Evangelists borrowed from Plato, to interpret tlie phrase, the word
of Jehovah, in various occurrences of it in the Old Testament Scrip-
tures, as meaning the second person of the Trinity : The instances
adduced in support of this idea are such as these — Gen. xv. 1. *, 3,


(onipareJ with verseis 7, 8, 9, 13. 1 Sam. iii. 7, 21. Psalm, cvii. 20,
&,c. &c. — Parkhurst's Gr. Lex. on the word Aeyos, §. 16. I would
not, at the same time, be understood as entirely rejecting this opinion.
Different considerations, not destitute of plausibility, have been urged
in support of it.

As to the reason why the appellation Aayoii is given to the second
person of the Trinity (or rather, let me say for the present, given to
Jesus Christ) it would be a mispending of the reader's time, to con-
sider Muniitely the different translations whicli have been proposed,
with the reasonings in support of each. I am satisfied, that our re-
ceived translation is the most natural, and the best supported by par-
allel passages of Scripture ; — and that the most satisfactory reason
w liich can be assigned for the application of the title Word, and Word
of God to Christ, is his being the viediiun of Divine communications to
men. God makes himself, his w ill, his purposes, known to us by himf
as men do theirs to one another by words or speech. See Matth. xi.
27. and John i. 18.

Note C. page 64.

When this Discourse was delivered, l Tim. iii. 16. " And without
controversy great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest inthe
flesh,'''' — \vas introduced in this place, and the following observations
made upon the passage.

" In this text, we have an instance of such criticism as I fonnerly
alluded to ; which could not be easily made intelligible to a mixed
audience, as it depends on the similarity between certain letters of the
Greek alphabet, and on the mode of writing in ancient manuscripts.

"The rendering adopted in the ' Improved Aversion' is — '• He who
was manifested in the flesh, was justified by the Spirit, &c.

" On tills 1 have only to remark,

'• ist, That, on the ground of evidence purely critical, that is, apart
from all considerations of connexion and sense, the utmost that can be
alleged against the received translation is, that it is doubtful.

^' 2dly, From the nature of the case, the probability seems quite as
great, of the corruption of the original reading from the received ver-
sion to tlie other, as from the other to if. 1 think I might say with
truth, considcr.ilily greater : since it is much easier to suppose the
omission of certain nunks and lines, in and over particular letters, in
the course of tmnhcribing. lluin it is to suppose the insertion of such
marks where they originally had no place. I mention this, because

NOTES. 403

the general principle appears an obvious one; and because the ap-
plication of it to the case in question will be perceived by at least
some of my present hearers.

" 3dly, Connected with these remarks is the circumstance, that this
text, as it here stands, is in perfect harmony with those already quot-
ed, and others of a similar description.

'^Mij, Even the phrase " He who was manifested in the flesh"
seems of itself strongly to convey the idea of previous existence. The
designation is certainly a very singular one, w hen considered as used
respecting a mere human prophet — a descendant of Adam by ordina-
ry generation : — "'He who was manifested in the flesh." — The ex-
pression, in such an application of it, is, T am confident, without a
single parallel.

^* 5thlij, If we take away the " manifestation in the flesh" from
being a part, and even the leading part, of the mystery of godliness,
it will not be easy to show wherein the greatness — the peculiar and
incontrovertible greatness of this mystery, so emphatically aflirmed
by the apostle really consists."

I was induced to omit this passage in the printed Discourse, not by
a decided conviction that these remarks were destitute of force : — but
because I was desirous of having it to say, that I had built no part of
my argument on any passage which eminent critics had pronounced
of doubtful authority. See Discourse V. pages 145 — 117.

Griesbach, in his second edition, gives the preference to a?, insert-
ing it in the text, and throwing ©eos into the margin.

The following Extract from the Eclectic Review, Vol. V. pages
346 — 248. Art. New Versions of the New Testament — will at once
show the various readings, with the authorities in support of each,
and explain the allusion made in one of the above observations to the
mode of writing in ancient MSS.

" The second remarkable text, to which we have alluded, is 1 Tim.
iii. 16. where the question is, whether we ought to read ©£«?, 05 or 0.
" 1. ©£85 is the reading of almost all the Greek MSS. in small let-
ters, i. e. those whose antiquity does not reach higher than the tenth
century. Versions: the Slavonic and the Arabic of the Polyglott.
Fathers: Chrysostom,Theodoret, John of Damascus, CEcumenius, and
Theophylact : one or two others of the Greek fathers have been ad-
duced, but liable to strong doubt.

" 2. 'O? is the reading of the Alexandrine,* the Ephrem, the Augi-

* " It Is well known that it has been a matter of very anxious dispute, whether
OC or ©C (the contraction in all the most ancient MSS. for ©«»?) is the original

40* NOTES.

ensis, and the Bcemcrianus. The Vatican, the Sangermanensis, and
the Coislinianiis, are mutilated at this place. These are all the ex-
isting Uncial MSS. of the Epistles of Paul, except the Passionei,
which has not heen sufficicnlly examined, and whose evidence, there-
fore, on this point, is not before the public. It is also found in the
Parisinus 1*, and the Upsaliensis, both small letter MSS. of the elev-
enth or twelfth century. Versions: the Coptic of Sais reads o?. Both
the Syriac, the Etbiopic, the Armenian, and the Arabic of Erpenius,
have the pronominal prefix ; so that it is impos)^ible to be determined
whether they read o« irho, or o which. Fathers : as far as can be as-
certained, the Greek fathers (with the exception mentioned above)
appear to have read 05 or 0. Of the Latins, qui (05) appears only in
Jerome on Is. liii. 1. and the Acts of the II. Council of Constantino-

" 3. 'o is found in only one Greek MS. but that an Uncial one, the
Clermont. Versions: the old Latin, and the Vulgate. Fathers: all
the Latins, and some of the Greeks.

" On this statement it is to be observed; (1.) That ©£05 is found
only in the more recent Manuscripts, the offspring of the latest of the
three ancient recensions, the Byzantine : and it is supported by no
evidence from the Fathers earlier than the close of the fourth centu-
ry, nor from the Versions earlier than the ninth. (3.) That the great-
est weight of external evidence is in favour of 05. (3.) That is the
more smooth and easy reading, and agrees with the immediate ante-
cedent i^vT-y,qioi. It was, therefore, most probably substituted by
some, who, not adverting to the remote antecedent, fancied the con-
struction of o« ungrammatical. (4.) That if ©C were the original

reading of the Akxandrine. It it confessed, on all hands, that the two cross strokes
which noiv appear in the MS. are the addition of a modern pen. The question is.
Were they added without aay authority in the MS. itself ? Or, with the honest in-
tention of preserving from irrecoverable loss a point and a cross stroke, which had
proceeded from the first hand, but were in a state of evanescence ? All the aids
of eye-sight, sunshine, and microscopes, have been employed to discover the vestiges
of the primeval point and cross stroke : but no decisive result has been obtained.
Some diligent inspectors thought they could perceive the faint remains : others, as
diligent and eagle-eyed, protested that they could not discover any such traces : and
even the same observer has at one time fancied he saw them, and at another time
has been unable to recover tlie vision. See Wetstein, Berriman, Owen in Bowyer's
Conj. and particularly Woide's valuable preface with the notes of Spohn. Our own
opinion is, that the scale turns in favour of OC. The vellum at this passage is said
to be now so much rubbed and worn by repeated examination, that no future inspec-
tion can be of much avail towards determining the point at issue."

NOTES. 405

reading, it is to the last degree difficult to conceive that it could have
degenerated into OC, and that so important a word as ©C should not
have been made prominent by the Fathers of the first three centuries.
But, to any one versed in the appearance of Uncial manuscripts, it
will appear easy and probable that ©C should have grown out of OC.
" The learned and unbiassed reader must form his own judgment :
we confess that ours is in favour of k. But we object strongly to the
rendering, in the Improved Version^ " He who was manifested in the
flesh was justified by the Spirit," &c. The editors have followed
Abp. Newcome in supposing that os may be put elliptieally for ov-
Tog 05. This supposition, we apprehend, is quite unauthorized and
erroneous. 'Og is frequently put for 'ovrog and uvrog. It also not un-
usually supplies the place of the partitive iorrtg; but in that ease, we
think, it is always followed by a particle, as re, ye, h, civ, yx^ ; as in
the passages adduced in the Archbishop's note for sanctioning this
construction, and which consequently are irrelevant. Till some bet-
ter support is adduced for this assumed ellipsis, we must reject it as
false Greek. In the place before us, 05 is undoubtedly a relative ;
and its natural and proper antecedent has been pointed out by the
learned Professor Cramer, distinguished thus :

—ttTii e}(s-i» ©EOT ^6)vrog (^ttvMs 'teii eS^otmif^ot ryjg ctXTiiaui,
KCCi ofAoXayovfJuevag yteyot^ srrri ro Ttig evfreQeiet^ ftvo-raj^/av) «? e^ctvepaiv) k. t. X,

— " Which is the church of the living God (the pillar and support
of the truth, and confessedly great, is the mystery of godliness) who
was manifested," &c.

The only observation I would make on the above extract, relates to
the affirmation that the use of 05 for ovrog 'o!ain and unlettered writers of the N. Test. ; together with what
would be C({ually necessary, the immaculate correctness of transcri-
bers. If this is the state to which the controversy is reduced, it would
be better to give up the jmint at once. A doctrine of such magnitude
as the proper deity of Christ, must have clearer and more substantial
evidence, or none at all." BelshanrsCalm Inquiry, page 230. Note.
— '"The conlroxeny reduced to this J" No. No. Mr. B. knew full

Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 33 of 36)