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The phrase thus mterpreted , \ # wever , is not without its difficulties . The exfre ^ sians , •* justified by the gpirit aad received up into glory , " seem 4 o ideate that the w $ ter is speaking not Vpf a quality but a person ; # »< J it Is not easy to conceive
how God could be justified or how-God could he received up into glory . It is thierefpre necessary to Jook for some other method *> f clearing the passage from the obscurity in which it is involved , and rendering the apostle intelligible and consistent with himself and with the other writers of
the New Testament . In this part of his discourse , Mr . Wellbeloved explains with admirable perspicuity how errors have found their way , from time to time , into the Scriptures , in their original languages , by being
often transcribed , in many instances by careless or ignorant copyists , and by other circumstances incidental to the multiplication of copies , prior to the invention of printing , and points out the means bv which such
corruptions of the original text may be detected . He then states that , from an examination of the most ancient and valuable manuscripts , from the important evidence furnished by the best and oldest versions and the writings of the earliest Christian fathers , there is abundant reason to believe
that the clause in question , as written by the apostle , was no other than this , " He who was manifested ( or appeared ) io > the flesh . " In shewing , for the sake of the
unlearned , how easily that important change might have been introduced " by a trifling accident or a slight touch of the pen , " the preacher is singularly happy .
' * Figure to yourselves , a small word composed of two letters , exactly similar to the capital letters O and C of the English alphabet . You will then have the exact representation of a Greek word , a& it is found in ancient Greek
manuscripts , which , translated into English , would be who , or , He who . Suppose , bow , that by accident or deaign , any transcriber should place a dot or a very small horUoutal line in the middle of 7 O ; this would be a very slight
change in the form of the word , and "ught easily take place , but it w <* uld niake a momentous change in the meanl of the passage . For we have thus the two letters which , In almost all an-
cient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament , exhibit the contracted form of the worn which signifies God . To render this form perfect , a very small line above the letters is necessary j and as it easily might , so it certainly would , be added , when the letter O had undergone
the change supposed , either through design or accident . Such is the change which I suppose to have taken place in this passage , four or five hundred years after the days of the apostles ; and hence has been derived the declaration , falsely attributed to the apostle , that « God was manifest in the flesh . '"—Pp . 23 . 24 .
If the reading * tlras proposed be adopted , every semblance of mystery , as that word is usually understood , immediately vanishes ; . and Mr . Wellbeloved goes on to consider with what eminent propriety the terms employed in the latter part of the text may be applied to Jesus Christ ; and how
these facts relating to him may be justly called * the mystery of godliness . " We regret that our narrow limits forbid our following him through ah examination , in the course of which many passages of Scripture are most clearly and beautifully illustrated * We must content ourselves
with quoting * a single paragraph . Cf Such was the mystery of godliness . Such the mighty and gracious effects , resulting from the ministry of Jesus , though exercised in poverty arid amidst a perverse and unbelieving generation , and terminating in apparent ignominy and
discomfiture : effects which no tfrie , tminstructed by God , could have foreseen ; which no one , though endowed with the most extraordinary sagacity , could have anticipated ; yet effects provided for , by all the preceding dispensations of
Providence , and destined , in the secret counsels of the Most High , to be finally produced . The stone which th $ builders rejected , now became the head of the corner : it was the Lord ' s doing , and it is justly wonderful in our eyes . "—P . 34 .
The discourse concludes with earnestly exhorting those to whom this " mystery of godliness ? ' is made known , to shew in the whole of their teoiper and deportment , that they are not unworthy of their distinguished privileges .
"? You know that by the principles of the gospel you must her ^ Aft ^ r be j udged ; by thd principles of the gospel , therefore , be ever studious to live /'
v 0 L . XXI . 4 T
Revtew ^ yPeltbetoved * Sermon ' on the Mystery of Godliness . 685
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Nov. 2, 1826, page 685, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2554/page/49/