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olics explain the passage? You will say not. Does it mean those who mourn for their sins, as many Protestant commentators tell us? I think otherwise. The purpose of our Saviour was, I believe, simply to announce that his religion brought blessed consolation to all who mourned.
"Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth." So the next words are rendered in the Common Version. I will not go over the different meanings that have been assigned to them, but will only ask my reader, if he have not particularly attended to the subject, in what sense he has understood them? The rendering should be, "Blessed are the mild, for they will inherit the land"; that is, "the promised land." The passage cannot be understood without attention to the conceptions of the Jews. They believed, that, if they obeyed God, they should remain in possession of "the promised land"; if they disobeyed him, that they would be removed from it, and scattered among other nations. Hence "the inheriting of the land" was in their minds but another name for the enjoying of God's favor. In this associated and figurative sense the terms. were used by Christ. His meaning was, literally, Blessed are the mild, for they will enjoy the favor of God. In the Psalm (xxxvii. 11) from which he borrowed the words, they are, probably, to be understood literally.
These examples may serve in some measure to show, that it is not always easy to determine the meaning even of passages which may seem at first
view to present little difficulty. If, therefore, we may hesitate about the true sense of those quoted by Trinitarians, this circumstance will afford no ground for hesitation in rejecting the Trinitarian sense. We must not assign an absurd meaning to a passage, because we are unable to satisfy ourselves about the meaning intended. He would reason very ill, who, because he was unable to satisfy himself as to what was meant by our Saviour when he spoke of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, should, on that account, adopt the Roman Catholic exposition of his words.
In what follows, I shall confine my remarks to passages of the New Testament. If the doctrines of Trinitarians were not taught by Christ and his Apostles, it would be a superfluous labor to examine the passages of the Old Testament which have been represented as containing indications of them.* There are arguments so futile that one may be excused from remarking upon them. At the present day, it can hardly be necessary to prove that the writer of the first chapters of Genesis was not a Trinitarian; or that there is no evi
["The Old Testament," says Professor Stuart, "does but obscurely (if at all) reveal the doctrine of a Trinity. . . . . . On the supposition that has been made, namely, that the full development of Trinity was not made, and could not be made, until the time of the Saviour's incarnation, it is easy to see why nothing more than preparatory hints should be found in the Old Testament respecting it. He who finds more than these there, has reason, so far as I can see, to apprehend that his speculations in theology have stronger hold upon him than the principles of philology." - Biblical Repository for July, 1835, pp. 105-108.]
dence for the doctrine in the words of Isaiah (vi. 3), "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts"; though, according to Dr. William Lowth, a standard commentator on the Prophets, "the Christian Church hath always thought that the doctrine of the blessed Trinity was implied in this repetition." Another expositor of equal note, Bishop Patrick, tells us, that "many of the ancient Fathers think there is a plain intimation of the Trinity in these words, The Lord our God is one Lord'"; yet it cannot be expected that one should go into an explanation of this proposition, for the sake of removing any difficulty in comprehending it. The passage of the Old Testament which is most relied upon by Trinitarians is found in Isaiah ix. 6. It has been often explained. There is, I think, no evidence that it relates to Christ; and if it do, the common version of it is incorrect. It may be thus
"For unto us a child is born,
Unto us a son is given;
And the government shall be upon his shoulder;
Wonderful, counsellor, mighty potentate,
Everlasting father, prince of peace." *
I quote the translation given by the Rev. George R. Noyes in his Sermon upon Isaiah ix. 6, lately published, and refer to the same discourse for its explanation and defence. I do so the more readily, as it gives me an opportunity of expressing my respect for that able and accurate scholar, and my strong interest in those labors by which he is contributing so much toward a better understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures.
[The sermon here referred to was republished in No. 78 of the Tracts of the American Unitarian Association. See also, on this
I proceed, then, to remark upon the principal passages adduced by Trinitarians professedly from the New Testament in support of their doctrines; and in doing so shall distribute them into several different classes, according to the different errors which have led to their misuse. The sources of misinterpretation and mistake will thus appear, and in regard to the texts of less importance which I shall omit to notice, it will in general be easy to determine to what head they are to be referred, and in what manner understood.
To the first class we may refer Interpolated and Corrupted Passages. Such are the following.
passage, the remarks of the Rev. Dr. Noyes in the Christian Examiner for January, 1836, Vol. XIX. pp. 292–295. The article just cited examines the question, "Whether the Deity of the Messiah be a doctrine of the Old Testament," with particular reference to the statements and reasonings of Hengstenberg, in his Christology. In connection with two others by which it was followed, on the "Meaning of the Title Angel of Jehovah, as used in Scripture," and "The Angel of Jehovah mentioned in the Old Testament, not identical with the Messiah," (see the Christian Examiner for May and July, 1836,) it presents, probably, the ablest and most satisfactory discussion of the subject of which it treats that is to be found in the English language. It may be mentioned, that the translation given above, "mighty potentate," instead of "the mighty God," as in the Common Version, is supported, substantially, by the authority of Luther, Gesenius, De Wette, and Maurer.]
Acts xx. 28. Here in the Common Version, we find these words: "To feed the church of GoD, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Instead of "the church of God," the true reading is "the church of the Lord."
1 Timothy iii. 16.
"GOD was manifested in the The reading eós (God) is spurious; but
it has been doubted whether we should read os (who or he who) or o (which).
1 John v. 7. The famous text of the three heavenly witnesses. The value that has been formerly attached to this passage, though unquestionably
[Among the critics and commentators who regard this as the genuine or as the most probable reading, may be mentioned the names of Grotius, Wetstein, Michaelis (Anmerk. in loc.), Bp. Marsh, Griesbach, Schott, Heinrichs, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, De Wette, Olshausen, Baumgarten, Adam Clarke, John Pye Smith, Stuart (Bibl. Repos. for April, 1838, p. 315), Barnes, Hackett, Davidson, Tregelles.]
[This text is generally referred to, for conciseness, as "1 John v. 7," though in fact the spurious words form a part of the 7th and 8th verses. It would hardly be worth while to notice this, had not some who have written on the subject been so ignorant as to argue the genuineness of the seventh verse from the assumed genuineness of the first part of the eighth; though the latter, equally with the spurious portion of the former, is wanting in all known Greek manuscripts written before the invention of printing, in all the ancient versions but the Latin Vulgate, and even in the oldest manuscripts of that; is quoted by no ancient Greek Father, and by no Latin Father before the latter part of the fifth century. The following are the verses in question, as translated in the Common Version, the spurious portion being enclosed in marks of parenthesis :
"For there are three that bear record (in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. 8. And there are three that bear witness in earth), the spirit, and the water, and the blood and these three agree in one."]