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tures into various languages, which were made from manuscript copies of the original Scriptures, older than any which have come down to our times. And by a diligent perusal of these, learned men can easily discover what the original words in any given passage were in the copy which the translators used. We have, further, the writings of many Christians who lived in successive ages, in different parts of the world, from very nearly the times of the apostles, and which contain such frequent and extended quotations from manuscripts or versions of the New Testament, in their possession, that if the books of the New
Testament were lost, we could, by the assistance of these writings, almost entirely replace them. By the united aid of these manuscripts, versions and writings of ancient Christian fatbers, it is possible to discover and to correct every error of importance which may, by any means, have crept into the original text of the sacred Scriptures.
Now, by such aid we learn, that the term rendered God, in the passage we are now considering, has been improperly substituted for another term by some ancient transcriber, and copied from him by others; and, consequently, that the phrase, God was manifest in flesh, although capable, when considered by itself, as you have seen, of being rationally and scripturally explained, made no part of the apostle's declaration. The passage does not appear in this form in the most ancient and valuable manuscripts. It could not have been seen in this form by the authors of the earliest and the best versions of the New Testa. ment. In the writings of the greater part of the Christian fathers, also, where the passage is evidently cited, it is not thus cited: not even (which is a fact of the highest importance) where it would have been thought decisive, in respect of some of the points which were subjects of controversy in the earlier ages of ihe church. There is, on the whole, abundant reason to believe that this clause in the text, as written by the apostle, was no other than this: 'He who was manifested (or appeared) in flesh:' $0 that the whole verse will run thus; "And confessedly great is the inystery of godliness: He who was manifested in flesh, was justified by the Spirit, seen by angels, preached to the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory. Such a change would appear great and violent, and would, indeed, be $0, in our own, or in any other language, or in any version; but the case is very different with respect to the original
. A trifling accident, or a slight touch of the pen, might convert the word ivhich is translated by the English term He, into that which is uniformly translated God.
“I hope I shall not be thought to descend into particulars too ininute, or in any manner improper, for this time or place, if I endeavour to satisfy the minds of my unlearned readers, by explaining to them how this important difference between the text as it now stands, and as I have just asserted it ought to stand,
might arise. Figure, then, to yourselves, a small word composed of two letters, exactly similar to the capital letters and C of the English alphabet. You will then have the exact representation of a Greek word as it is found in ancient Greek ananuscripts, which, translated into English, would be who, or He who. Suppose, now, that by accident or design, any transcriber should place a dot or a very small horizontal line in the middle of the O; this would be a very slight change in the form of the word, and might easily take place, but it would make a momentous change in the meaning of the passage. have thus the two letters which, in almost all ancient Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, exhibit the contracted forte of the word which signifies God. To render this form perfect, a very small line above the letters is necessary; 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 flesh.'" — Pp. 19-24.
It may not be known to all our readers that the great Sir Isaac Newton wrote a letter to M. Le Clerc, afterwards published, to prove that the common reading of the text is corrupt, and that the true reading is which i. e. which mystery) was manifest, &c.
In his sermon before referred to, Dr. Lardner seems to be balanced between the received reading God, and that defended by Sir Isaac Newton, which; but he shews that “ which soever of these two readings we follow, the meaning is much the same." "Suppose the subject here spoken of be the mystery of godliness : it is kuown and believed by all Christians, that the doctrine of the gospel was manifested to, and among men, by Jesus Christ and his apostles : yet it was justified by the Spirit, confirmed by miracles wrought by Christ himself, and by his apostles, and others afterwards : seen of angels, beheld by them with ready approbation, and with surprise and wonder : preached to the Gentiles, as well as Jens : believed or in the world, received by men of all characters in all nations : received up into glory, gloriously exalted, greatly honoured and magnified by that reception, and by its effects in the hearts and lives of men. -Suppose this to be said of God :
* The progress of the corruption would be this: OC, who, or He who ; OC @C, God,
it is also true and received by all Christians in general, There was an especial presence, and most extraordinary manifestation of the Divine Being in the human nature, or person of Jesus Christ, who is therefore called 'Emmanuel;'
God with us. The divine authority of Jesus was justified by the Spirit, by many miraculous works, and by a very plentiful effusion of the Holy Ghost upon such as believed in him. He was seen and ministered to by angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, and finally, received up into glory in heaven.”*
Mr. Wellbeloved interprets the manifestation in the flesh, of Christ's appearing in a humble condition and a suffering and mortal nature, and he considers the being seen of angels to refer to our Lord’s being so often seen of the angels of the churches, the messengers of his word, the apostles, after his resurrection, whose personal acquaintance with him was necessary to make their testimony to his being raised from the dead complete.
Religious Observance of Christmas Day.
November 17, 1826.
The religious observance of Christmas Day was strongly objected to by the old Nonconformists, as it is by the Presbyterians of Scotland to this day. That observance was in their time compulsory, and therefore resistance was necessary to maintain the rights of conscience. Superstition too was largely mixed up with the celebration, and to protest against the superstition it might have been expedient to drop the celebration altogether : the very name Christmas, or Christ's mass, shews the origin of the festival.
But now that force is no longer applied to conscience, and that much at least of the superstition connected with the observance has been done away, it is worth while to inquire whether the Dissenters, and particularly the Unitarian Dissenters, may not innocently, safely and profitably
* Works, X. 489, 490.
birth of Cbrist. It also allows many persons who are tiedt to their own places of worship on the Sunday, to step in and hear what are the principles of Dissenters and Unitarians.
I confess when I have heard the bells on a Christmas morning with their cheerful sounds summoning Christians to attend the altar with their thanksgivings to the God and, Father of Christ, and have seen the doors of Dissenting Meeting-houses fast closed, I have felt that there is some thing unsocial and sullen in our opinions and customs. What do the vulgar conclude when they observe Unitarian Chapels shut on this anniversary,--but that their usual worshipers own little or no interest in the event which the rest of the world are celebrating with so much gladness? The conclusion is erroneous; but why should we countenance it by our conduct ?
As a religious question, the observation of Christmas and of other church festivals is referred by the apostle Paul to every one's sense of right. He that regardeth the day, to the Lord he regardeth it: he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. Let all have full liberty. But in a matter left indifferent by the founders of our faith, I for one prefer uniting with any fellow-christians to differing from them; especially as my faith may be confirmed and my devotional feelings quickened by a confor, mity, within the bounds of conscience, to a custom nearly universal and of unquestioned antiquity.
Seeing no probable evil but much certain good in a Christmas service amongst Dissenters, and particularly Unitarian Dissenters, I cannot help hoping that you, Sir, Christiun Reformer as you are and I am persuaded ever will be, will permit me to lay these thoughts before your readers and to invite their candid attention to my recommendation.
AN UNITARIAN MINISTER.
Commencement of Unitarian Worship at Hulme. A place of Unitarian Worship was opened for Sunday Evening worship on Sunday evening, October 1st, at Huline, near Manchester, when a Sermon was preached by the Rev. J. G. Robberds, of Manchester, from the words of our Saviour, “ I and my Father are one.". Unitarianism had never before been preached in this populous township. The preaching is to be