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completed. Many learned men also, in different countries, besides the collators themselves, have been usefully employed in examining and ascertaining with singular care and skill the authority of Greek manuscripts, and in passing their judgment on the value and importance of the various readings which have been presented to the public. What the learned persons above mentioned have done to the New Testament, Dr. Kennicot has done to the Old, and by himself, and with the assistance of others, has collatèd upwards of six hundred Hebrew manuscripts ; besides some very early and scarce printed editions, and from these has drawn about one hundred thousand various readings. The merits of this great work have not yet been fully tried, but amongst so great a number of variations, some must undoubtedly be of great consequences and Dr. Lowth, a late Bishop of London, a very competent judge, celebrates the work very much, and by the assistance that it afforded him in his new valuable translation of Isaiah, has restored several words that'were lost out of that Prophet; and rectified the translation in maný places, that had either nó sense at all before, or an erroneous
It is beyond all controversy, therefore, that our present English translation of the Old and New Testament is faulty in several places, and requires emendation : and I might bring a cloud of witnesses to prove this, were it not a thing so palpably known, that no man of -learning and candour will call it in question. Now, therefore, when, by the providence of God and the exertions of the learned, more light has come into the world, are we to love darkness rather than light? Are we to sit down contented with an English version, that 'is defective in some places, redundant in others, and differs in several respects from the best and most valuable manuscripts ? Are we to pronounce this version authentic, forbid any amendment of it, and prevent any appeal to the originals, as the Roman Catholics do with respect to the Vulgate: although by the by the Vulgate is in some places of great importance a better version than our own? How preposterous is a conduct of this kind, and also how dangerous ! For although our English version was sufficient for the salvation of our ancestors, who had no way of obtaining á better ; yet it may not be sufficient for ours, if we reject all the light that criticism affords for its correction and amendment.
JOHN Xtii. 3. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the
only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. These words are part of that excellent and fervent prayer, which Jesus, our amiable Saviour and heavenly instructor, poured forth to his God and Father, previous to his entering upon the melancholy scene of his sufferings and death.
Although, from the accounts the Evangelists have left us, we find our Lord frequently engaged in the sacred and ne. cessary duty of prayer; and Luke, in particular, men. tions that on a certain occasion, he continued all night in prayer to God; and the author of the Epistle to the Hem brews takes notice, that in the days of his flesh, he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death ;** yet, sometimes we have no accounts at all, and at other times
very short and general ones, of the matter and substance of these prayers. But in this prayer which the
# Heb. v. 7.
Apostle John records, and of which our text forms a part, we have a complete and entire specimen of the devotions of Jesus.
The words of our text contain a very important specu. lative truth ; viz. That the knowledge of God and Christ, or the different characters and relations which they stand in to us, is necessary to the obtaining of eternal life.
6 This is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent:'* It is obvious to every one's consideration who takes the words of our text in their just and natural sense, that the Father is here styled, and that by our Lord himself, the only true God;' and Jesus Christ is distinguished from him under the cha. racter of 6 one that he hath sent,' or as his messenger, legate, or ambassador. This text, therefore, has ever been held deservedly dear by those who assert and maintain the proper unity of God, and that he is the father only. On the other hand, those who oppose this important truth, and affirm that there are a plurality of co-equal and con. substantial persons in the Godhead, have endeavoured to weaken and explain away its natural and genuine meaning, and put a forced and arbitrary construction upon it. Before, therefore, we attempt to ground any argument upon this text, or raise any doctrine from it, it seems ne. cessary to take some notice of their objections to our interpretation.
The first we shall mention is, that the words are capable of being rendered differently from the Greek, and instead of this is life eternal, that they might know thee the Fa. ther, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent;' they may be rendered, say they, this is life eter. nal that they might know thee the Father, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent, the only true God, i. e. that both are the only true God. But sure, he that is capable of reading a single verse of the original will despise this translation; and the mere English reader, by attending to the coherence of words, and the natural meaning of the context, may be satisfied that it is a most forced and un.
* The Cambridge MS. reads, xai ox, &Teoteins Inowy Xgroter es TUTOY TOY xoo joy Sand Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent into this worid. Mill and Wetstein in loco.
natural one. *
And to say the truth, some of the more learned Trinitarians do not insist upon it, but fairly own that the Father is here styled the only true God; they at. tempt, however, to evade the force of this text by other methods.
The Father, they tell us, has here the title of the only true God, in opposition to idols, or the false gods whom the heathens worshipped ; but not in exclusion of the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is true God as well as the Father; and as a proof of this they quote 1 Ep. of Johu, V, 20. ' And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true; even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Lit. tle children, keep yourselves from idols. In answer to
* Le Clerc has a sensible note upon this passage, as follows. “Iye γινωσκωσι σε τον μονον αληθινον θεον, και ον απεσειλας Ιησου Χριστον. Verte; ut cognoscant te qui es solus verus Deus; et Jesum, qui est Christus quem misisti; aut et Jesum quem misisti, qui est Christus. Articulus enim soy debet repeti ante Christum. Perinde est ac si infinitivo rem exprimas, hoc modo, vt cognoscant te quidem esse solum verum Deum, Jesum vero esse Messiam quem misisti, quasi Grece dictam esset ori ειο μονος αληθινος θεος, και οι απειλας Ιησος ο Χρισος Jesus autem hic ait; hanc esse vitam eternam, non quod tota fides christiana, quanta quanta est, intra hæc duo capita in se spectator coerceatur ; sed quia hæc duo sunt veluti ceterorum omnium fundamentum, credere illum esse solum verum Deum, qui est pater Jesu Christi, et Jesum esse Messiam, quem missurus erat Absque hisce non constat Christianismus, cujus cetera dogmata sunt hisce superstructa ; atque hisce admissus ut veris, cetera etiam admittat necesse est, vitamque ex iis instituat, quisquis non insaniet'; quisquis sibi constare volet, ut facile omnes intelligunt-Iya yoxwoxwol," &c. The words must be rendered thus : That they may know thee, who art the only true God, and Jesus who is the Christ that thou hast sent ; for the article roy must be repeated before the word Christ. It is as if the meaning was expressed by the infinitive mood in the following manner; that they may know thee to be the only true God, and Jesus to be the Messiah whom thou hast sent, as if it had been said in the Greek, otisi, &c. Christ here says that this is eternal life, not because the whole christian faith, in its greatest extent, is comprehended under these two heads considered in themselves, but because these two things are, as it were, the foundations of all the rest, to believe him who is the Father of Jesus Christ to be the only true God, and Jesus to be the Messiah whom he purposed to send. Without these Christianity cannot stand, because all the rest of the truths asserted in it are built upon these, and these being admitted as true, the rest must also be admitted, and the life regulated by them, unless one will act a foolish and inconsistent part, as every body may easily perceive. Le Clerc in loco.
this we readily grant, that idols or false gods are certainly excluded by the Father's being here styled the only true God. But then this is nothing to the purpose, for the word only, here made use of, not only excludes idols, but every thing that is not the Father from being the true God. And our Lord Jesus Christ is plainly distinguished from the only true God, and characterised as one that he hath sent. În regard to the above quoted passage from the 1 Epistle of John, if we read it as it stands in the Greek without the word even, which has been injudiciously in. serted by our translators in the 20th verse, we shall find that it is the Father, and not the Son, that is there called the true God. The passage ought to be read thus. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, in or through his son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. That is to say, that we are brought to the knowledge of the true God, or have an understanding given us to know him, by the instrumentality of his Son Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, the life, and without whom none can come to the Father. Very properly then does the venerable Apostle add, This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.' This God, into the knowledge of whom ye are introduced by Jesus Christ, is the true God, and eternal life is the reward of that know. ledge. Be careful, therefore, little children, of debasing this
pure religion, for every deviation from the worship of this true God by his Son Jesus Christ, is idolatry. This passage, therefore, is so far from weakening the force of the words, only true God, applied to the Father in our text, that it corroborates them, and throws additional light
But we have not yet done with the Trinitarians; they return to the charge in another way. The Father, say they, may be here called the only true God, in contradistinction to the Son; because he is the fons deitatis, the fountain of divinity, the first person in order who is of none neither begotten nor proceeding ; but this when granted, will not hinder our Lord Jesus Christ from being in the words of the Nicene creed, Deus ex Deo, God of God, or God by communication of the Father's divinity. We reply, that this is a very important concession, and estab.