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The sense of the primitive christians is agreeable hereto. Few or none of them have thought Barnabas an apostle.
Clement of Alexandria has quoted Barnabas five or six times. Twice he calls him apostle. In another place he calls him the apostolic Barnabas, who was one of the seventy, and fellow-labourer of Paul. These are the highest characters, which he intended to give to Barnabas, and what he means, when he calls him apostle, as is fully shown in the place just referred to.
By Tertullian, as cited by usm formerly, Barnabas is plainly reckoned no more than " a companion of apostles.
Eusebius, in a chapter concerning those who were disciples of Christ, says: The names of our Saviour's apostles
are well known from the gospels: but there is no where ' extant a catalogue of the seventy disciples. However, it ' is said, that Barnabas was one of them, who is expressly
mentioned in the Acts, and in Paul's epistle to the Gala'tians.' That learned writer therefore did not know that Barnabas was an apostle. In another place of the same work, his Ecclesiastical History, he quotes a passage from the seventh book of Clement's Institutions, or Hypotoposes, where Barnabas is styled one of the seventy. In his commentary upon Isaiah Eusebius computes fourteen apostles, meaning the twelve and Paul added to them, and equal to them, and James, the Lord's brother, bishop of Jerusalem, whom Eusebius did not think to be one of the twelve. Nor does he here say, that he was equal to them, or Paul. However, from all these places we can be fully assured, that our learned ecclesiastical historian did not so much as suspect Barnabas to have been an apostle in the highest sense of the word.
Jerom, in the article of Barnabas, in his book of Ecclesiastical Writers, says, he was ordained with Paul an 'apostle of the Gentiles.' But authors who write in haste, as Jerom often did, do not always express themselves exactly and properly. Jerom did not think that Barnabas was equally an apostle with Paul. This may be concluded from what there follows: He wrote an epistle for the
Vol. ii. p. 248.
m P. 288.
n Volo tamen ex redundantiâ alicujus etiam comitis apostolorum testimonium superducere, idoneum confirmandi de proximo jure disciplinam Magistrorum. Exstat enim et Barnabæ titulus ad Hebræos. Tertull. de Pudicit. cap. 20. p. 741. -Των δε ἑβδομηκοντα μαθητων Λεγεται γε μην εἷς αυτων Βαρναβας. κ. λ. P L. ii. cap. i. p. 38. D.
καταλογος μεν εδεις εδαμη φερεται. H. E. Í. 1.cap. xii.
q Comm. in Es. p. 422.
See Vol. iv. p. 122, 123.
s See Vol. iv. p. 464.
⚫ edification of the church, which is read among the apocryphal scriptures.' If Barnabas had been an apostle, strictly speaking, Jerom would not have said, he wrote an epistle for the edification of the church:' which any man might do. Nor would his epistle have been reckoned apocryphal, as Jerom here, and elsewhere calls it. When Jerom says, that Barnabas was ordained with Paul an apostle of the 'Gentiles; it is likely, he refers to the history in Acts xiii. 1-4, of which I have already said all that is needful.
Theodoret, as formerly quoted, says: "The" all-wise 'Deity committed the culture of a barren world to a few 'men, and those fishermen, and publicans, and one tent'maker;' and to the like purpose often: which shows, that he did not reckon Barnabas an apostle in the fullest meaning of the word. If he had, he must have added, and one 'Levite.' The same observation may be applied to Chrysostom, who in his many passages showing the wonderful progress of the gospel, often mentions the apostles Peter, a fisherman, and Paul a tent-maker, but never Barnabas a Levite.
If then Barnabas was not an apostle, an epistle written by him cannot be received as canonical, or a part of the rule of faith forasmuch as no men, beside apostles, have the privilege of writing epistles, or other works, preceptive, and doctrinal, that shall be received by the churches, in that quality. This has been said several times in the course of this work. And I still think it right.
Mark and Luke, apostolical men, may write histories of our Lord's and his apostles' preaching, and doctrine, and miracles, which shall be received as sacred, and of authority. But no epistles, or other writings, delivering doctrines and precepts, (except only in the way of historical narration,) can be of authority, but those written by apostles.
Says Jerom of St. John: He was at once apostle, 'evangelist, and prophet: apostle, in that he wrote letters
to the churches as a master: evangelist, as he wrote a book of the gospel, which no other of the twelve apostles did, except Matthew: prophet, as he saw the Revelation in the island Patmos, where he was banished by Domitian.' Frederic Spanheim, in his Dissertation concerning the twelve apostles, readily acknowledgeth this to be one pre
"Vol. v. p. 22-25.
▾ Vol. iv. p. 560, 561.
See apostles in the alphabetical Table of principal matters.
* See Vol. ii. p. 249.
▾ Vol. iv. p. 446, 447.
rogative of apostles: That they may write epistles, 'which shall be received as canonical, and of universal and perpetual authority in the church.'
3. Barnabas does not take upon himself the character of an apostle or a man of authority.
Near the beginning of the epistle he says: "I therefore, 'not as a teacher, but as one of you, shall lay before you a 'few things, that you may be joyful.' And somewhat lower: Again, I entreat you, as one of you.'
He writes as a man who had gifts of the spirit, but not that full measure, which was a prerogative of apostles. He who put the engrafted gift of his doctrine in us,
knows, that no man has received [or learned] from me a truer word. But I know, that you are worthy.'
I shall add a few more very modest expressions, not suitable to an apostle.
• Thus d as much as in me lies, I have written to you 'with great plainness. And I hope, that according to my ability, I have omitted nothing conducive to your salvation in the present circumstance.'
In the last chapter: I beseech you: I ask it as a fa" vour of you, whilst you are in this beautiful vessel of the body, be wanting in none of these things.' And still nearer the conclusion. 'Wherefore I have endeavoured 'to write to you, according to my ability, that you might ' rejoice.'
Upon the whole, this epistle well answers the character given of Barnabas in the Acts, particularly, ch. xi. 24. "He was full of the Holy Ghost." The writer of this epistle had the gift of the spirit, though not that measure which was peculiar to apostles. "He was full of faith." The writer of this epistle had an earnest zeal for the truth and simplicity of the gospel. He was also "a good man." In this epistle we observe the mildness and gentleness, by
Decimus nobis character apostolicæ Epоync est potestas scribendi ad ecclesias plures, vel ad omnes, rouç radode misoic, hujusmodi epistolas, quæ in canonem referri mererentur, id est, quæ forent canonicæ, universalis et perpetuæ in ecclesià auctoritatis. Diss. prima de Apostol. Duod. num. xi. Opp. T. ii. p. 310. Ego autem non tanquam doctor, sed unus ex vobis, demonstrabo pauca, per quæ in plurimis lætiores sitis. Barn. ep. cap. i. bAdhuc et hoc rogo vos tanquam unus ex vobis.
Ib. cap. 4.
C Οἶδεν ὁ την εμφυτον δωρεαν της διδαχης αυτε θεμενος εν ήμιν υδεις γνησιωτερον εμαθεν απ' εμε λογον. Αλλα οιδα, ότι αξιοι έτε ὑμεῖς.
Cap. 9. d Εφ' όσον ην εν δυνατῳ και ἁπλοτητι, δήλωσαι ὑμιν ελπίζει με ἡ ψυχη τη επιθυμια με μη παραλελοιπεναι με τι των ανηκοντων ύμιν εις σωτηριαν, ενεστ τωτων. Cap. 17. Ερωτω υμας χαριν αιτεμενος. κ. λ. Cap. 21. Διο μαλλον εσπυδασα γραψαι, αφ' ων ηδυνήθην, εις το ευφραναι υμας. Ibid.
which Barnabas seems to have been distinguished: but we do not discern here the dignity and authority of an apostle.
Consequently, this epistle may afford edification, and may be read with that view. But it ought not to be esteemed by us, as it was not by the ancients, a part of the rule of faith.
Of the method in which the Canon of the New Testament has been formed.
THE canon of the New Testament is a collection of books, written by several persons, in several places, and at different times. It is, therefore, reasonable to think, that it was formed gradually. At the rise of the christian religion there were no written systems or records of it. It was first taught and confirmed by Christ himself in his most glorious ministry; and was still farther confirmed by his willing death, and his resurrection from the dead, and ascension to heaven afterwards it was taught by word of mouth, and propagated by the preaching of his apostles and their companions. Nor was it fit, that any books should be written about it, till there were converts to receive and keep them, and deliver them to others.
If St. Paul's two epistles to the Thessalonians were the first written books of the New Testament, and not written till the year 51, or 52, about twenty years after our Saviour's ascension, they would be for a while the only sacred books of the new dispensation.
As the christians at Thessalonica had received the doctrine taught by Paul, "not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God," 1 Thess. ii. 13, they would receive his epistles, as the written word of God. And himself taught them so to do, requiring, that they should be solemnly "read unto all the holy brethren," 1 Thess. v. 27. He gives a like direction, but more extensive, at the end of his epistle to the Colossians, iv. 16, requiring them, after they had read it "amongst themselves, to cause it to be read also in the church of the Laodiceans: and that they likewise read the epistle, that would come to them from Laodicea."
All the apostle Paul's epistles, whether to churches or particular persons, would be received with the like respect by those to whom they were sent, even as the written word of God, or sacred scriptures: and in like manner the writings of all the apostles and evangelists.
They who received them would, as there were opportunities, convey them to others. They who received them were fully assured of their genuineness by those who delivered them. And before the end of the first century, yea, not very long after the middle of it, it is likely, there were collections made of the four gospels, and most of the other books of the New Testament, which were in the hands of a good number of churches and persons.
From the quotations of Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and other writers of the second century, of Origen in the third, and of Eusebius in the fourth century, it appears, that the greatest part of the books, which are now received by us, and are called canonical, were universally acknowledged in their times, and had been so acknowledged by the elders and churches of former times. And the rest now received by us, though they were then doubted of, or controverted by some, were well known, and approved by many. And Athanasius, who lived not long after Eusebius, (having flourished from the year 326 and afterwards,) received all the same books which are now received by us, and no other. Which has also been the prevailing sentiment ever since.
This canon was not determined by the authority of councils but the books, of which it consists, were known to be the genuine writings of the apostles and evangelists, in the same way and manner that we know the works of Caesar, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Tacitus, to be theirs. And the canon has been formed upon the ground of an unanimous, or generally concurring testimony and tradition.
In the course of this long work we have had frequent occasion to observe, that the canon of the New Testament had not been settled by any authority universally acknowledged, particularly not in the time of Eusebius, nor of Augustine, nor of a Cosmas, nor of Cassiodorius: but that nevertheless there was a general agreement among christians upon this head.
That the number of books to be received as sacred and canonical had not been determined by the authority of any
a See Eusebius, Vol. iv. p. 86, 87.
b Ibid. p. 100, 101.
d Vol. v. p. 99.
c Ibid. p. 111.
• Ibid. p. 112.