It is Objected, that these words, last cited, are said to have been wanting in some Transla∣tions, or some ancient Copies.
Answ. Be it so. And so are some whole E∣pistles wanting in some Translations. And considerable parts of some other Chapters. But we are not therefore to cast them away as not Genuine. The IId. and IIId. Epistles of St. John, and that of Jude, are said to have been wanting in the Syriack and Arabick Translations: And the Story of the Woman taken in Adultery, Joh. 8. wanting in the Gothick Gospels: And part of the last Chapter of St. Mark's Gospel, is said to be wanting in some Books: And the Doxo∣logy in the close of the Lord's Prayer: And the like in divers others. But we must not thence conclude them not to be Genuine, and put them out of our Bibles, because they have chanced to be omitted in some Books.
And it is so far from being strange, that such Omissions should sometimes happen; that it is very strange (if there were not a great Providence of God to preserve the Scri∣ptures pure and entire) that there should be no more such mistakes than what are found. For Page 43 (before the convenience of Printing was found out) when Copies were to be singly transcri∣bed one from another, and even those but in a few hands: 'Twas very possible, (and hard∣ly avoidable,) even for a diligent Transcriber, sometime to skip a line. Especially, (which is the case here) when some of the same words do again recur after a line or two; Men are very subject, both in Writing and Printing, (as those well know who are versed in either,) to leap from one word, to the same recurring soon after. Nor is such Omission (when it happens) readily discerned, if (as here) the sense be not manifestly disturbed by it.
Now when such variety of Copies happens (that words be found in some, which are wanting in others,) this must either happen by a Casual mis-take, (without any design of Fraud:) or by a willful Falsification; as to serve a particular turn; (which I take to be the case of the Papists, Indices Expurgatorii.)
And, as to the words in question; If the difference of Copies happened at first by a Casual mistake, (as I am apt to think,) 'tis very easy for a Transcriber (unawares) to leave out a Line which was in his Copy (especially where such omission doth not ma∣nifestly Page 44 disturb the sense;) but not to put in a line which was not there. And, in such case, the Fuller Copy is likelyest to be True, and the Omission to be a Fault. Which happen∣ing (as it seems it did) some hundreds of years ago, in some one Copy; it might easily pass (unobserved) into many others transcribed thence (and so to others derived from those Transcripts.) But an Insertion (of what was not in their Copy) must needs be willful, and not casual.
On the other side; If this variety of Co∣pies were at first from a willful Falsification; It is much more likely to be a willful Omission of the Arians, in some of their Copies, (which might be done silently, and unobserved;) than by a willful Insertion of the Orthodox.
For the Insertion of such a clause, if wholly New, and which had never before been Heard of; would have been presently dete∣cted by the Arians, as soon as ever it should be urged against them.
Nor was any advantage to be made of it by the Orthodox, since the Divinity of Christ (which was the Point then in question) might be as strongly urged from that in St. John's Gospel, I and the Father are One, as from this Page 45 in his Epistle, These Three are One. And there∣fore it is not likely that the Orthodox should willfully make any such Falsification, from whence they could promise themselves no ad∣vantage. Nor do I find, it was ever charged upon them by the ancient Arians in those days: though Athanasius and others urged it against them. And in very ancient Copies, in which it had been left out, it is found supplied in the Margin, as having been faultily omitted.
And it is the more likely to be Genuine, be∣cause in this clause (The Father, the Word, and the Holy-Ghost) the second Person is called sun∣pliciter, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Word; which is St. John's Language, both here, and in his Gospel, Joh. 1. And is (I think) peculiar to him; and not so used by any other of the Holy Writers of the New Testament.
I do not deny but that this second Person may be called the Word of God, in Heb. 11.3. By Faith we understand that the Worlds were framed by the Word of God. And 2 Pet. 3.5, 7. By the Word of God were the Heavens of old, and the Earth, &c. and by the same Word they are kept in store. As he is by the same St. John, Rev. 19.13. His name is called, the Word of God. But to call him the Word absolutely (without other addition) I Page 46 think is peculiar to St. John. And therefore much more likely in this place, to have pro∣ceeded from the same Pen, and not to have been inserted by an Interpolater some hun∣dreds of years after. And that clause These Three are One, in the Epistle, agreeing so well with I and the Father are one in the Gospel, is a further confirmation of their being both from the same Pen.
Add to this, That the Antithesis which we find in the 7th and 8th Verses, is so very Na∣tural; that it is a great Presumption to be Ge∣nuine. There are Three that bear record in Hea∣ven, The Father, the Word, and the Holy-Ghost, and these Three are One: And there are Three that bear witness in Earth, The Spirit, and the Water, and the Blood, and these Three agree in One. Which as it stands, is very Natural; but the latter clause would seem lame without the former: and the words in Earth wholly redundant in the latter, if not by Antithesis to answer to the words in Heaven, in the former Verse.
And that it was anciently so read, appears from St. Cyprian, by whom it is twice cited (in his Book De Unitate Ecclesiae, and in his Epistle ad Jubaianum) before the Arian Controversy was on foot.
Page 47In the former place, (arguing for the Church's Unity, not to be broken by Schisms) he speaks thus. Dicit Dominus, Ego & Pater unum sumus. Et iterum de Patre & Filio & Spiritu Sancto, scri∣ptum est, Et hi tres unum sunt. Et quisquam credit hanc Unitatem de divina firmitate venientem, sacra∣mentis coelestibus cohaerentem, scindi in Ecclesia posse? That is, Our Lord saith, I and the Father are One: And again, of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, It is Written, These Three are One. And who can believe, that this Unity of the Church, proceeding from this Firm Union in God, and united by the Heavenly Sacraments, can be se∣parated in the Church? Where he argues for the Unity of the Church (not to be divided by Schism) by two Arguments from this place. One from the firm Unity of God; noted in ver. 7. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are One; from whom this Church proceeds, (de divina firmi∣tate venientem.) The other, from their being United by the same Sacraments (sacramentis coe∣lestibus cohaerentem) which relates to ver. 8. The Spirit, the Water, and the Bloud agree in One. Which double Argument, from the two Verses, shew that, then, they were both read.
And, as to the former of them (which is that in question) He cites it again, in his Page 48Epistola ad Jubaianum; where, disputing against Bapt•sm by Hereticks, he thus argues; Si bapti∣zari quis apud Haereticos potuit; utique & remis∣sam peccatorum consequi potuit. Si peccatorum remis∣sam consecutus est; & sanctifica•us est, & templum Dei factus est. Quaero, Cujus Dei? Si Creatoris; non potuit, qui in eum non credidit. Si Christi; nec hujus potuit fieri templum, qui negat Deum Christum. Si Spiritus Sancti; [cum tres Unum sint,] quo∣modo Spiritus Sanctus placatus esse ei potest, qui aut Patris aut Fi•ii inimicus est? That is; If by Hereticks one could be baptized; then he might obtain remission of sins: If he obtain remission of sins, then is he sanctified, and become the Temple of God. I ask then, of What God? Of the Creator? that he cannot be, who did not in Him believe. Of Christ? Neither can he be His Temple, who denies Christ to be God. Of the Holy Ghost? No. Fo•, seeing these Three are One, How can the Holy Ghost be at Peace with him who is at Enmity with either the Father or the Son?
'Tis manifest therefore that, These Three are One, was thus read in Cyprian's time; as being by him twice cited, before the Arian Contro∣versie was on foot.
And (before him) it is cited by Tertullian, in Page 49 his Book adversus Praxeam, cap. 25. Connexus Patris in Filio, & Filii in Paracleto, tres efficit co∣haerentes, alterum ex altero: qui Tres Unum sunt, (non Unus:) quomodo dictum est, Ego & Pater Unum sumus; ad Substantiae Unitatem, non ad Numeri Singularitatem. Where he doth not only cite the place, but doth likewise Pa∣rallel and Compare, These Three are One, (in this place) with I and the Father are One, (in the other place) as being of a like import. That is, The Connexion of the Father with the Son, and of the Son with the Paraclete or Holy Ghost, makes these coherent one with the other: Which Three are ONE, (Unum not Unus, One Thing, not One Person;) like as it is said, I and the Father are One, (one Thing) as to the Unity of Substance, though not as to Sin∣gularity of Number. They are One Being, One Substance, though otherwise they may be Three.
'Tis therefore no New Interpolation; but was anciently so read by Cyprian and Tertullian (the two most ancient of the Latin Fathers) long before the Arian Controversie was on foot. And hath been urged by others after∣ward, against the Arians.
Nor is there any prejudice (that I know of) against its being so read as now we read Page 50 it, save that some of the Fathers (it is said) have omitted to Urge it against the Arians, when there hath been occasion of so doing.
But this (beside that it is onely a Negative Argument, and I know not how well ground∣ed) might very well happen, if it chanced to be wanting in that particular Copy which such Father used. (For we are not to suppose they had then such plenty of Bibles as are now in our hands; but some one Manuscript Copy was to serve many.) And because that in St. John's Gospel, I and the Father are One, did fit their purpose as well, or rather better, than this in his Epistle, These Three are One. For the Con∣troversie, then on foot, was not so much that of the Trinity, as that of the Divinity of Christ.
To return, therefore, to the place which is before us; From what hath been said, it is manifest enough, that St. John, in calling the Father, the Onely True God, did not intend to exclude the Son, from being the same True God; whom himself doth elsewhere call the True God also, 1 Joh. 5.20.
No more (I say) than what is said, by name, of God the Redeemer (Isa. 44.6, 8.) is to be thought exclusive of God the Creator, or God the Father; Thus saith the Lord, the REDEEM∣ER, Page 51 the Lord of Hosts, I am the first, and I am the last, and beside ME there is no God. Which is applied to Christ in particular, Rev. 22.1•, 16. But is not exclusive of the Father; be∣cause God the Creator (or God the Father) is the same God with God the Redeemer, and there∣fore not another God beside him. And therefore both of them (or rather, the same God under both Considerations) indifferently called (especi∣ally in the Old Testament) God indefinitely, the Lord of Hosts, the Holy One of Israel.
Nor is that which is said of Christ, 1 Tim. 6.14, 15, 16. Our Lord Jesus Christ, who Onely hath Immortality, intended to exclude the Fa∣ther; as if the Father were not also Immortal, or were not (what is there said of Christ) the blessed and onely Potentate, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. But only, that our Lord Jesus Christ, is that God, which (God) is the blessed and onely Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and who only hath Immortality.
And (as was before noted by S. Austin.) The Father is not excluded from being Lord, not∣withstanding that of 1 Cor. 8.6. To us there is but One God, the Father; and One Lord Jesus Christ: or that of Eph. 4.5, 6. One Lord, one Faith, One Baptism, one God and Father of all. For Page 52 the Father, and the Son, are the same God, the same Lord. The same of whom it is said, Isa. 45.5. I am the Lord and there is none else, there is no God beside me. And again, ver. 6. I am the Lord and there is none else. Where note, that the Word Father, in that phrase, God and Father of All, is different from the sense of it, in the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: that relating to the common Nature; this to the Person.
And as in these places, what is sa•d of the Son, (that he onely hath Immortality, that he is the onely Potentate, that he is the One Lord, that be∣side him, the Redeemer, there is no God,) are not to be understood exclusive of the Father; so what is here said of the Father, (that he is the Onely True God) is not to be understood exclu∣sive of the Son; who is not another, but the same True God.
I thought here to have inserted (as in a pro∣per place) a Discourse of some other Points relating to the Trinity; which I find it neces∣sary here to omit (or to defer it to some other occasion) that I be not prevented by the time in what I have to say further.
That there is a God the Creator, a God the Redeemer, and a God the Sanctifier; and that these are the same God; I think cannot reason∣ably be Denied. I shall shew it of each.
Page 53As to God the Creator, we are told, Gen. 1.1. In the beginning God Created the Heaven and the Earth. (And, to the same purpose, in many other places.) And, I think, there is none doubts, but that this Creator, is the True God, the Supreme God. And in Jer. 10.11. God doth by this Character distinguish himself from all other (pretended) Gods, The Gods that have not made the Heavens and the Earth, they shall pe∣rish from the Earth, and from under these Heavens.
As to God the Redeemer; I know that my Re∣deemer liveth, saith Job, Ch. 19.25. By which Redeemer doubtless he meant the Living God, a God who did then Live; a God who was, then, in Being, and not (as the Socinians would have us think) who was not to Be, till Two Thousand years after. And Isa. 44.6. Thus saith the Lord the Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, I am the first and I am the last, and beside Me there is no God. Which Redeeme•, must needs be the same God, with God the Creator, the Lord of Hosts.
As to God the Sanctifier; Purge me with hys∣sop (saith David) and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow: Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me, (Psal. 51.7, 10.) Which certainly are works of Sanctification; and the God, to whom DavidPage 54 prayed, is doubtless the Living God, a God then in Being. And when God promiseth •o Israel, I will give them a hear• to k•ow me; and they shall return unto me with their whole heart, Jer. 24.7. I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever; I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me, Jer. 32.39, 40. I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them; I will take away the heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh, Ezek. 11.19. and 36.26. I will put my Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts, Jer. 31.33. The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayst live, Deut. 30.6. All these are sanctifying works; and that God who doth them, is God the San∣ctifier And it is the same God, who doth thus Sanctifie, that is the Creator and the Redeemer.
Now this God the Creator, God the Redeem∣er, and God the Sanctifier, I take to be the same with what we otherwise call, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. And our Church doth so expound it in her Cate∣chism; First, I learn to believe in God the Father, who hath Made me and all the World: Secondly, In God the Son, who hath Redeemed me and all Man∣kind: Page 55 Thirdly, In God the Holy Ghost, who San∣ctifieth me and all the Elect people of God. And it is no more absurd or inconsistent, to say, that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy-Ghost, are the same God; than to say, that God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Sancti∣fier, are the same God.
As they stand related to us, they are cal∣led God the Creator, God the Redeemer, and God the Sanctifier. As to the different Oeco∣nomy, amongst themselves, one is called the Father, who is said to Beget; another the Son, who is said to be Begotten; a third, the Holy-Ghost, who is said to Proceed or Come forth; But are all the same God.