صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

are so many, that their agreement throughout is won'derful.'

IV. I have been sometimes apt to think, that the best canon of the New Testament would be that which may be collected from Eusebius of Cæsarea, and seems to have been' the canon of some in his time.

The canon should consist of two classes. In the first should be those books which he assures us were then universally acknowledged, and had been all along received by all Catholic Christians. These are the four gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, thirteen epistles of St. Paul, one epistle of St. Peter, and one epistle of St. John. These only should be of the highest authority, from which doctrines of religion may be proved.

In the other class should be placed those books of which Eusebius speaks, as contradicted in his time, though well known concerning which there were doubts, whether they were written by persons whose names they bear, or whether the writers were apostles of Christ. These are the epistle to the Hebrews, the epistle of James, the second of Peter, the second and third of John, the epistle of Jude, and the Revelation. These should be reckoned doubtful, and contradicted: though many might be of opinion, that there is a good deal of reason to believe them genuine. And they should be allowed to be publicly read in christian assemblies, for the edification of the people but not to be alleged, as affording, alone, sufficient proof of any doctrine.

That I may not be misunderstood, I must add, that there should be no third class of sacred books: forasmuch as there appears not any reason from christian antiquity to allow of that character and denomination to any christian writings, beside those above mentioned.

In this canon the preceding rule is regarded. It is a short canon. And it seems to have been thought of by some about the time of the reformation.

Vol. iv. p. 94-100.

We learn from Paul Sarpi's History of the Council of Trent, that one of the doctrinal articles concerning sacred scripture, extracted, or pretended to be extracted, out of Luther's works, was this: That no books should be reckoned a part of the Old Testament, beside those received by the Jews; and that out of the New Testament should be excluded the epistle to the Hebrews, the epistle of James, the second of Peter, the second and third of John, the ⚫ epistle of Jude, and the Revelation.' And there were some bishops in that council, who would have had the books of the New Testament divided into two classes in one of which should be put those books only, which had ⚫ been always received without contradiction; and in the other those which

[ocr errors]

V. Nevertheless that which is now generally received is a good canon.

For it contains not only those books, which were acknowledged by all in the time of Eusebius, and from the beginning, and seven others, which were then well known, and were next in esteem to those before mentioned, as universally acknowledged: and were more generally received as of authority, than any other controverted writings. Nor is there in them any thing inconsistent with the facts or principles delivered in the universally acknowledged books. And moreover, there may be a great deal of reason to think, that they are the genuine writings of those, to whom they are ascribed, and the writers were apostles. This evidence will be carefully examined, and distinctly considered as we proceed.

In this canon likewise the above-mentioned rule is regarded. It is a short canon. For out of it are excluded many books, which might seem to make a claim to be ranked among sacred and canonical scriptures.

VI. There are not any books, beside those now generally received by us, that ought to be esteemed canonical, or books of authority.

I suppose this to be evident to all, who have carefully attended to the history in the several volumes of this work; and that there is no reason to receive, as a part of sacred scripture, the epistle of Barnabas, the epistle of Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Recognitions, the Clementine Homilies, the Doctrine of the Apostles, the Apostolical Constitutions, the Gospel of Peter, or Matthias, or Thomas, the Preaching of Peter, the Acts of Peter and Paul, of Andrew, and John, and other apostles, the Revelation of Peter and Paul, their Travels or Circuits. That these books were not received as sacred scripture, or a part of the rule of faith, by christians in former times, has been shown nor can they therefore be reasonably received by us as such.

The only writing of all these, that seems to make a fair claim to be a part of sacred scripture, is the epistle of St. Barnabas, if genuine, as I have supposed it to be. Nevertheless, I think it ought not to be received as sacred scripture, or admitted into the canon, for these reasons:

• had been rejected by some, or about which at least there had been doubts.' And Dr. Courayer, in his notes, seems to favour this proposal. See his French translation of the History of the Council of Trent. Liv. 2. ch. 43. tom. I. p. 235. and ch. 47. p. 240. and note i.

See Ch. ii. Vol. ii. p. 18-21.

1. It was not reckoned a book of authority, or a part of the rule of faith, by those ancient christians, who have quoted it, and taken the greatest notice of it.



Clement of Alexandria has" quoted this epistle several times, but not as decisive, and by way of full proof, as we showed nor is it so quoted by Origen; nor is the epistle of Barnabas in any of Origen's catalogues of the books of scripture, which we still find in his works, or are taken notice of by Eusebius. By that ecclesiastical historian, in one place it is reckoned among spurious writings, that is, such as were generally rejected and supposed not to be a part of the New Testament. At other times, it is called by him a controverted book, that is, not received by all.


Nor is this epistle placed among sacred scriptures by following writers, who have given catalogues of the books of the New Testament. It is wanting, particularly, in the Festal Epistle of Athanasius, in the catalogue of Cyril of Jerusalem, of the council of Laodicea, of Epiphanius, Gregory Nazianzen, Amphilochius, and Jerom, & Rufinus, the council of Carthage, and Augustine. Nor has it been reckoned a part of the canonical scripture, by later writers.


2. Barnabas was not an apostle.



For he was not one of the twelve apostles of Christ: nor was he chosen in the room of Judas; nor is there in the Acts any account of his being chosen into the number of apostles, or appointed to be an apostle by Christ, as Paul was. What St. Luke says of Barnabas is, "that he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith," Acts xi. 24. And in ch. xiii. 1, he is mentioned among prophets and teachers in the church of Antioch. But St. Luke speaks in the like manner of Stephen, of whom he says, he was a man full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost," ch. vi. 5. "full of faith and power," ch. v. 8. "full of the Holy Ghost," ch. vii. 55. And all the seven were "full of the Holy Ghost, and wisdom," ch. vi. 3.


That Barnabas was not an apostle, I think, may be concluded from Gal. ii. 9, where Paul says: "And when James, and Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship." By grace I

[blocks in formation]

suppose St. Paul to mean the favour of the apostleship. So Rom. i. 5, "By whom we have received grace and apostleship," that is, the favour of the apostleship. Ch. xii. 3, "For I say, through the grace given to me," meaning the especial favour of the apostleship. And see ch. xv. 15; 1 Cor. xv. 10; Eph. iv. 7, compared with ver. 11.

If Barnabas had been an apostle, in the fullest sense of the word, St. Paul would not have said in the above-cited place from the second to the Galatians, "when they perceived the grace given to me," but " when they perceived the grace given to me and Barnabas." And in the preceding part of the context, particularly in ver. 7, 8, he twice says me, where he would have said us, if Barnabas had been an apostle: for he had been mentioned before, in ver. 1.


Indeed, in the Acts, where Paul and Barnabas are mentioned together, Barnabas is sometimes first named, Acts xi. 30; xii. 25; xiii. 1, 2; and 7. xiv. 14; xv. 12, 25, which I think not at all strange among persons who were not intent upon precedence: when, too, Barnabas was the elder in years and discipleship. But in several other places Paul is first named, as in Acts xiii. 43, 46; xv. 2, 22, 35, of which no other reason can be well assigned, beside that of Paul's apostleship.

Moreover, wherever they travelled together, if there was an opportunity for discoursing, Paul spake. So at Paphos, in the island of Cyprus, Acts xiii. 6-12. And at Antioch in Pisidia, ch. xiii. 15, 16. See also ch. xiv. 12.

And that Paul was the principal person appears from that early account, after they had been in Cyprus, ch. xiii. 13. "Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga, in Pamphylia."

However, there are some texts, which must be considered by us, as seeming to afford objections.

Acts xiv. 4, "But the multitude of the city was divided. Part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles:" that is, Paul and Barnabas, who were then at Iconium. And afterwards at Lystra, ver. 14, " Which when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard,"-Here Barnabas is styled an apostle, as well as Paul.

To which I answer, first, both being now together, and meeting with the like treatment, might be called apostles, though only one of them was, properly, so. Secondly, it is not unlikely that Barnabas and Paul are here styled by St. Luke apostles, in regard to what had been done at Antioch, as related by him, ch. xii. 1-4, when by an express


order from heaven, they were sent forth from the church at Antioch, upon a special commission, in which they were still employed. That designation, however solemn, did not make either of them apostles of Christ in the highest sense. It was not the apostolical, which is a general commission. But it was a particular commission, as appears from that whole history, and from what is said at the conclusion of the journey, which they had taken, Acts xiv. 26, " And thence they sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God, for the work which they had fulfilled." Nevertheless, they are not unfitly called apostles upon account of it. So 2 Cor. viii. 13, “Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner, and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches," literally, apostles of the churches," and the glory of Christ." If those brethren, which had been appointed by the churches to go to Jerusalem, with the contributions, which had been made for the relief of the poor saints in Judea, might be called apostles; there can be no doubt, but Paul and Barnabas might be called apostles in regard to the work, to which they had been solemnly appointed by the church at Antioch.


Again, 1 Cor. ix. 5, 6, "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord and Cephas? Or I only, and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working."

Some may think, that Barnabas is here supposed to be an apostle. I answer, that though Barnabas was not an apostle properly, or equally with himself, yet Paul, out of an affectionate respect to his friend, companion, and fellowlabourer, might be disposed to mention him, upon this occasion, in the manner he has done. This is said, supposing all before mentioned to have been apostles of Christ in the highest sense. But, secondly, it is not certain that all, before mentioned, were strictly apostles. It seems to me more likely, that by the brethren of the Lord some are intended, who were not apostles. If so, Paul might reasonably, and without offence, gratify his friendly disposition: and insert here the name of Barnabas, who had shared with him many fatigues and difficulties in the service of the gospel, though he was not an apostle.

I do not therefore discern any good reason from the New Testament, why Barnabas should be reckoned an apostle; but quite otherwise.

* Αποτολοι εκκλησίων.

« السابقةمتابعة »