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again restored to its primitive sense ; its primitive sense accounts for its treatment , while the violence it suffered for ages confirms in return the true signification : and thus a verse
which was thought to justify the orthodox in placing beyond the pale of the church those who rejected the divinity of Christ , establishes the simple humanity of Christ as a fundamental article of that faith which Christ and
his apostles delivered to the saints . The riddle of the sphinx is scarcely more enigmatical , and the CEdipus of Sophocles , so famed for the complication of its plot , more unexpected in its catastrophe . The Bishop of St . David ' s , Mr . Nolan , and other
sons of Orthodoxy , who still defend the verse , gain their cause and are defeated . On the other hand , Mr . Fox , Dr . Carpenter , with others of the same school , who insist on its forgery , are defeated—and they triumph . The former , like the frogs of JEsop in demanding a king , claim the verse to crush Unitariamsm . Their
demand is heard , and they receive a hydra to devour their own system . The latter repudiate it as hostile to genuine Christianity : they fail in the attempt—and the failure restores the gospel to that purity for which tliey contend . In a word , the contending
parties , after struggling each against their own views and interests , change places . The success of the one is followed by disappointment and even mortification ; the defeat of the other ends in triumph . The most respectable characters in this comic-tragedy
are Michaelis , Marsh , Griesbach , Porson , J . P . Smith and others , who , though Trinitarians , still had the candour to reject the verse . To the command of the Roman Satirist , Vos bine , hinc vos , mutatis discedite partibus , they may still answer , Volumus , and , though defeated , retire from the stage with honour and consistency . They , however , cannot but feel mortified that the part which they have acted obliges them in retreating to leave behind their fair name as a
mantle to cover the shame of the triumphant party . The Unitarian writers of the highest character and talents have distinguished themselves by their opposition to this text : I allude to BeU ahftin , Carpenter , Kenriek and Fox :
and it Is remarkable that they have preserved silence during" the whofe discussion of this question . With regard to the first , he is the Nestor of Unitarianisni , and may well be excused from again descending to the
arena of debate : but it is hardly fair in the rest , after having used their talents and learning in vilifying a verse which comprehends the veryfoundations of their faith , to let the sentence against them go , as it were by default . Is this a policy for the mitigation of punishment , or is it a
scornful pride that refuses to be convinced ? If the verse be really rescued from the infamy with which they have contributed to load it , candour requires that they should come forward and acknowledge their error . With regard to Mr . Fox , the year is just revolved since , on a public occasion , he asserted that no one could
maintain the genuineness of the text of the three Heavenly Witnesses , unless he were either ignorant or dishonest . With the evidence which on the surface appears against its authenticity , I do not accuse him of
temerity or the want of candour . This gentleman is as remarkable for modesty and Christian simplicity of character as he is for his high talents . But he must be condemned ; and my sentence upon him is , that he should deliver his recantation from hi ^ own
pulpit—make the text of John the subject of a discourse—announce the day in the Repository that I and others may have the pleasure of hearing him , and if be does not make his chapel
ring with his usual eloquence , I will pass upon him a severer sentence the very next time I shall have an opportunity to arraign him in the high court of biblical criticism . BEN DAVID . . nM ^^ n
( 3 22 ' Fate of Matt * xXviiu 18— -20 , compared with I ifohn v . 7 , 8 .
w Fate of Matt , xxviii . 18—20 , compared with 1 John v . 7 > 8 . Patron of all the luckless brains , That to the wrong side leaning ! Cowper .
I twirl my thumbs : fall back into my chair : Fix on the wainscot a distressful stare : And when I think his blunders are all out .
Reply discreetly , " To be sure ; no doubt / ' to .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), June 2, 1826, page 322, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2549/page/6/