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spirits, because ye have thus received the* grace grafted in you. On account of which I greatly congratulate myself, hoping to be released [liberari]; because I truly see in you a spirit infused from the excellent fountain of God: since I am persuaded of this, and fully know, that whilst I address you, many good things have happened to me in the way of the righteousness of the Lord. Therefore, my brethren,. I love you more than my own soul, because that therein dwells the greatness of faith, and love, and the hope of that life (i. e. eternal life); wherefore, considering this, that if I shall communicate to you somewhat from that which I myself have received, it will turn to my reward that I have served in the Spirit such (excellent) persons; I have given diligence to send these few things to you, that you may have your faith and knowledge complete."
After this exordium, he admonishes those whom he is addressing, that " as the days were very evil, and the adversary had the power of that age [sæculi], they ought with attention to inquire into the righteousnesses [æquitates] of the Lord, the assistants of their faith were Fear and Patience, and their fellow combatants Long-suffering and Continence, which, as long as they remained pure, wisdom, understanding, intelligence, and knowledge [yvwots] rejoiced together he then declares, as a sort of explanation of this yvwoc, that God had abolished the legal sacrifices, taking his proofs from the Prophets (Isaiah i. 11-14; Jer. vii. 22-23; Ps. 1. 19; lviii. 4—10). This part of his argument he concludes with these words, "In these things, therefore, my brethren, God shows that he is provident and merciful; because the people whom he had purchased to himself by his beloved one, were to believe in simplicity: and thus he pointed out beforehand to us (by the Prophets), that we should not run like proselytes into the laws of those men (the Jews)." This passage shows that the author was writing at a period when the Church was still troubled with Jewish questions; and from other internal evidences, we may conjecture that the date of this epistle was not much later than a year or two after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. He then (iv.) warns them to avoid the errors of those days, and not to dispute with wicked men and sinners, lest they should become like them alluding probably to those who disturbed their faith with Jewish views-he tells them that the consummation of trial was come, as was written in Daniel, and that that was fulfilled which prophesied that ten kings should reign on the earth, and that last of all another little one should rise up, who should humble those kings-referring, it is to be presumed, to Dan. vii. 24—and that the little horn had arisen, before which the three were plucked up by the roots-" for this end," says he, "the Lord has shortened the times and the days, that his beloved Son might hasten to his heritage." He then earnestly entreats them to look to themselves, and not to be like those persons who heap up sin, and say " that their covenant is ours also;" but to understand that it was theirs alone, and not the Jews', "because the Jews had for ever lost that which Moses received." After some general admonitions of spiritual watchfulness, he proceeds to show, (v. vi.) that Christ had suffered for the remission of their sins, according to the Scriptures; that the scape goat (vii.) was intended as an evident type of the atonement, and that the red heifer (viii.) was another type of Christ. The ears and hearts of Christians, he next teaches (ix.), are circumcised; and this figurative circumcision, he says, has superseded the Abrahamic
"Naturalem gratiam," perhaps "the grace natural to you, or in accordance with your excellent nature." As the learned have here agreed to interpret this extraordinary expression in the sense of ovμovrov or "engrafted," we would not disturb the translation; though we are not satisfied that the author of the Epistle had that meaning which his respectful commentators have interposed to ascribe to him. The startling doctrines of the rest of the Epistle may liberate us from any scruples in admitting "the natural grace" of this passage. +"Vere video in vobis infusum spiritum ab honesto fonte Dei"-meaning perhaps "from God the excellent fountain"-but is it not possible that there is here an allusion to baptism?
Multa mihi bona successerunt in via æquitatis Domini." Archbishop Wake thus boldly translates the passage, "I have had more than ordinary good success in the way of the law of the Lord, which is Christ;" these last words are wholly interpolated, without the least intimation of the liberty which the learned Prelate had taken with his author. To us it seems that the writer means to insinuate, that in prosecuting the task of writing this Epistle, many excellent thoughts have been suggested to him, in the mysteries which he had undertaken to explain. He probably wrote this sentence, and others contiguous to it, after he had finished the rest of the Epistle.
circumcision, a subject on which he advances some deplorable puerilities. The commands of the Mosaic law regarding the clean and the unclean beasts, next engage his attention; but, in prosecuting this inquiry, he indulges in speculations, in which it is difficult to say whether folly or impurity most predominate: the ignorance, absurdity, and immodesty of his comments are scarcely to be paralleled. Baptism and the Cross of Christ, he next (xi. xii.) shews were foretold in figures under the law. He then returns to the subject which seems to be the principal object of his epistle,-that the promises of God were not made to the Jews only, but to the Gentiles also, and fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ,-the Sabbath of the Jews was but a figure of a more glorious Sabbath to come (xv.), which subject causes him to unfold his peculiar views of the coming of the Lord, in other words, his millenarian theory. The temple of Jerusalem was typical of the spiritual temple (xvi.), the temple of the Christian's heart, the habitation of the Lord. He then concludes with various admonitions and precepts (xix. xx.), warns that "the day is at hand in which all things shall be destroyed, together with the wicked one, for the Lord was near and his reward with him,"-requests them to think of him, to meditate on what he had written, and to endeavour to fulfil every command—and then he bids them farewell as "children of love and peace."
It is no agreeable task to animadvert on the glaring faults of this ancient epistle, for we would fain pass over in respectful silence the errors of one who seems to have written with the sincere desire of benefiting his brethren in the faith; but the task which we have proposed to ourselves—the vindication of the power of the Gospel, and the enarration of the true history of the Church of Christ-compel us to bring forward some particulars, which might otherwise have been omitted.
In the 9th section of this epistle, where the author discusses the subject of circumcision, he advances the following nonsensical mystery, "Understand therefore, children, these things more fully, that Abraham, who first introduced circumcision, did, in the Spirit, look forward to the Son-he circumcised, receiving the mystery [or doctrine] of three letters: for the Scripture says, he circumcised three hundred and eighteen men of his house; what, therefore, was the knowledge [yvworç] given to him? Mark, first the eighteen, and next the three hundred; for the numeral letters of ten and eight, are iota and eta, I H—and here you have the name of IHOYΣ, Jesus; but because the cross (that cross which was to have grace) is in the figure of the letter Tau, T, which letter is a numeral of 300, he therefore adds three hundred, wherefore he sets forth Jesus in two letters, and the cross by another. He who has placed the engrafted word of his doctrine in us knows this,— learned a more exact truth than this from me: but I know that ye are worthy to receive it."
-no one has ever
As some excuse for the absurdity of this passage, those writers who feel concerned to sustain the character of the Apostolical Fathers, take care to remind us that many of the Fathers of a later age have sought for a mystery in the numbers 318 or 300; and thus they triumphantly quote the authorities of Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Hilary, Chrysostom, Prudentius, Paulinus, and Augustin-they might also have added, that Ambrose, contrary to the testimony of Eusebius, asserts that there were 318 Bishops at the Council of Nice, for the purpose of finding this mystical number in the 318 domestics of Abraham, and in the cyphers of the name of Jesus and the cross-but the array of these venerable names can serve no other purpose than to afford an additional proof of the vanity of tradition, and to exhibit the weakness of the Fathers as guides and instructors of the Church.
The explanations offered concerning the unclean beasts of the Mosaic law, are for the most part too scandalous to quote. As a specimen of that which can be quoted, take the following, "Moses said, Ye shall eat all that divideth the hoof and cheweth the cud; signifying thereby such a one as having taken his food, knows him that nourisheth him, and resting on him rejoiceth in him—thus he teaches us to associate with those who meditate on the command of the word which they have received in their heart-but why might they eat those that cleave the hoof? Because the righteous liveth in the present world, but his expectation is fixed upon the other: see, brethren, how admirably Moses commanded these things!"*
Compare a kindred commentary of a Quaker mystic, "The unspeakable consolation which I found on my first uttering a few words, and that after a considerable time of rather
The hyæna, he informs us, is an animal that changes its sex, and is sometimes male and sometimes female-the lamprey, the polypus, and the cuttle fish were forbidden, because they wallow in the mud, and do not swim as other fishes, and therefore resemble men adjudged to death-of the hare he makes the following assertion and application, τον δασυποδα ου φαγη φησιν, προς τι ; ου, μη γενη παιδοφθορος, ουδε ὁμοιωθησῃ τοις τοιουτοις, ὅτι ὁ λαγωος κατ, ενιαυτον πλεονεκτει την αφοδευσιν, οσα γαρ έτη ζη, τοιαυτας εχει τρυπας—of the weasel, his commentary is too bad to produce even in a learned language; and the whole of this disgusting exegesis he concludes with professing that he has received divine instruction, which enabled him to unfold these mysteries, "We, therefore, understanding the commandments aright, speak as the Lord has wished; for he has circumcised our ears and our hearts that we might comprehend these things."
On the subject of baptism, he informs us that the Jews were not to receive a baptism which would bring forgiveness of sins, but should institute another for themselves, inefficacious for that purpose; the prediction of this fact he finds in the words of the Prophet, which he thus gives, " Be astonished, O Heaven; and let the earth tremble at this, because this people hath done two great and wicked things: they have forsaken me, the living fountain, and hewn out for themselves broken fountains. Is my holy mountain Sinai become a desert rock? for ye shall become like young birds which fly away, when their nests have been pulled to pieces,"- -a strange jumble and perversion of Scripture, taken apparently from Jer. ii. 12, and Is. xvi. 1—2. "And then," says he, "what follows in the Prophet? His water is faithful: ye shall see the King with glory, and your soul shall learn the fear of the Lord," meant to be a quotation from Isaiah, xxxiii. 16-17.
Baptism, together with the cross, he discovers in the first psalm, nearly the whole of which he transcribes. "The blessing" pronounced in this psalm, he says, is for those who put their trust in the cross, [ni eπɩ σtavρov eλπioavтes] and descend into the water, "their leaves shall not fail, that is,' every word which proceeds out of their mouths shall be to the conversion and hope of many-and then what follows-there was a river running on the right hand, and beautiful trees grew by it; and, he that shall eat of them shall live for ever,'-the signification of which is this, that we go down*KaTaßaιvoμev-into the water full of sins and pollutions, but come up again— avaßaivoμev-bringing forth fruit- and whosoever shall eat of them shall live for ever'—that is, whosoever shall hearken to those who call them, shall believe, and live for ever." He seems here to refer to Ezek. xl.
The cross, he assures us, was represented by Moses when he stretched forth his arms during the battle against Amalek-and by Isaiah, when he said, “I have stretched out my hands all the day long to a disobedient people,”—and in like manner he determines concerning the cross in another Prophet, saying " and when shall these things be performed? And the Lord replies, when the wood shall have fallen, and shall have risen again, and when blood shall have dropped from the wood.' This is quoted, though incorrectly, from 2 Esdras v. 5. "But if the Most High grant thee to live, thou shalt see, after the third trumpet, that the sun shall suddenly shine again in the night, and the moon thrice in the day, and blood shall drop out of the wood, and the stone shall give his voice, and the people shall be troubled, and even he shall rule whom they look not for, that dwell on the earth.”
His views of the kingdom of Christ are thus unfolded, "consider what that signifies, he finished all things in six days.' The meaning of it is that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with Him one day is a thousand years; as himself testifieth, saying, Behold this day shall be as a thousand years.' Therefore in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is it that he saith, he rested the seventh day.' He
holding back! Man, hastily proceeding, had fully confirmed me that there is greater safety in turning the fleece and well proving it, both wet and dry, than in rushing forward on the first operations or openings. The beasts allowed in sacrifice were to chew the cud and divide the hoof. Chewing the cud is a deliberate act, they chew and swallow, chew and swallow again. The division of the hoof being on the stepping member, shews the danger of taking a single step in divine service without a clear division of things, and the way cast up in the mind."-Job Scott, 1780.
* These expressions shew clearly the mode of baptism practised by christians, when this Epistle was written.
meaneth this, that when his Son shall come and abolish the season of the wicked one, and judge the ungodly, and shall change the sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall he gloriously rest in that seventh day.” "Lastly he saith unto them, 'Your new moons and your sabbaths, I cannot bear them'-consider what he means by it'The sabbaths,' says he, which ye now keep, are not acceptable to me, but those which I have made when resting from all things, I shall begin the eighth day,' that is, the beginning of the other world, for which cause we observe the eighth day with gladness, in which Jesus rose from the dead-and, having manifested himself to his disciples, ascended into Heaven."
In this passage the writer means, perhaps, that six thousand years had elapsed, and that they were therefore entering into the rest of the seventh day, in the kingdom of the Lord the rest of the eighth day he seems to espect in the beginning of the other world. Irenæus taught that the world would last as many thousand years as there were days of the creation, that is, six thousand. Menardus suggests, in his notes on Barnabas, that in Hebrews iv. "the entering into rest" refers to this doctrine, but adds, that "as this may seem a new interpretation, he is not anxious to defend it pertinaciously." Many of the Fathers have entertained a similar opinion about the six thousand years.* Cyprian thought the consummation of all things would be at the end of seven thousand years; and of the same opinion were Methodius (apud Phot. Cod. 237); and Hilary (in Ps. cxviii. 18).
Enough perhaps has been adduced to place the claims of the author of this epistle, as a teacher of the Church, in a proper light-we would, therefore, only by two other examples, shew the liberty he allowed himself in explaining the Scriptures. He puts these imaginary words in the mouth of Moses. "Let him come unto the serpent that is set upon the pole; and let him assuredly trust in him, that though he be dead, yet he is able to give life, and presently he shall be saved"-on which he makes the following injudicious comment : " and so they did; see, therefore, how here also you have in this the glory of Jesus, and that in him, and to him are all things." "The Father did manifest all things concerning his son Jesus, in Jesus the Son of man, and gave him that name when he sent him to spy out the land of Canaan: he said, 'Take a book in thy hands and write what the Lord saith, forasmuch as the Son of God shall in the last days cut off by the roots all the house of Amalek.'" This is a travestie of Exod. xvii. 14; but all these instances of invention, or misapplication of texts, leave no favourable opinion of that writer, who, in the licence of his imagination, could thus venture to pervert the Scriptures.
In other respects, this epistle is interesting and instructive: we find in it allusions to the events of the age in which it is written, some points in exact accordance with the state of the churches then existing, and some expressions in harmony with certain doctrines of the New Testament which shortly afterwards were forgotten or contradicted. The most interesting of these allusions is to one of the sayings of our Lord not reported in the New Testament, "as the Son of God says, 'Let us resist all iniquity, and hate it,' a saying, which it is quite possible might be in common report amongst those who had heard the Lord. It reminds us of those other unrecorded words of the Saviour which Paul quoted to the Elders of Ephesus, "It is more blessed to give than receive" (Acts xx. 35).
There is in this Epistle a sentence which has been much† noticed, “ and when he chose his own Apostles who were afterwards to preach the Gospel, he selected men who were beyond all measure sinful υπερ πασαν ανομιαν ανομωτέρους, to manifest that he had come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. Then he
* So Jerome. "I think, from this passage, and from the Epistle, which is inscribed by the name of Peter the Apostle, that a thousand years are placed for one day, for this reason, that as the world was made in six days, so it should be believed that it should only last six thousand years, and that then will come the seventh and the eighth number, in which the true Sabbath is kept, and the purity of circumcision is restored."-See Cotelerius in locum.
Origen and Gregory Nazianzen have conjectured that Celsus, in his great work against the Christian Religion, founded his assertion of the wickedness of the Apostles on this passage of Barnabas.-Gregory Nazianzen remarks that Peter confessed to the Lord that h was a sinful man," Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man" (Luke v. 6). Menardus has an excellent note here." Christus omnibus peccatoribus veniam pollicitus, nequissimis omnium peccata dimisit, eosque in Apostolicæ dignitatis fastigio collocavit, ut nemo posthac de peccatorum suorum remissione dubitaret, si pœnitentiam agere vellet."
clearly manifested himself to be the son of God." There is in these words a very strong proof of the apostolical antiquity of the Epistle; for thus to speak of the Apostles or of any of the primitive saints, was that which no writer of a subsequent age would have ventured. Reverence, approaching to worship, in naming the Apostles, was rather the language to be expected of a writer not a contemporary with those venerated friends and servants of the Lord. Now of the fact of the "exceeding sinfulness" of the Apostles, we are not particularly informed in the Gospels. Matthew was a publican; and "a publican " was, with the Jews, a name synonymous with a sinner (Luke xix. 7; Matt. ix. 10);-but probably Matthew was not worse than the rest, in the judgment of charity, before he and his Brother Apostles joined themselves to the Lord. Of this, however, we may be certain, that every one of the Apostles would, without hesitation, have assented to this description of themselves "that they were exceeding sinful," before they were brought to the knowledge of salvation by grace through faith; and that the whole college would have joined in the confession of Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief:"-to believe on him that justifieth the ungodly is the essence of such faith as bringeth salvation; this is what the Holy Ghost has taught the Church of God, and we know of no faith in the economy of grace but that which whilst it rejects the righteousness of man antecedent to faith (Rom. iv. 5), accepts "the free gift" superseding" many offences unto justification (Rom. v. 16). It is not, therefore, to be supposed that the author of this Epistle had in his eye Judas Iscariot alone when he made use of this expression; for his words will bear no such construction: and it is quite possible that the sinful lives of some of the Apostles might have been known to him, as well as to many others of his generation. The eye that cannot bear to contemplate sin reigning in the Apostles before their conversion, must be weakened by an ophthalmia generated in a popish atmosphere.
The position of believers as Priests in the sanctuary of grace seems to be taken for granted, both by omission of all notice of a clerical body in the whole of the Epistle, and by incidental expressions which ascribe the sacerdotal privilege to all those persons to whom the Epistle is addressed: "wherefore, as he has spoken,* it behoves us to approach more holily and nearly to his altar-but I, not as a teacher, but as one of you, will point out to you a few things, &c." What he says here of his brother Christians and of himself is equally remarkable. It is, moreover, impossible to suggest, as some of the Popish school have done relating to similar expressions of the other apostolical fathers, that Christians really had an altar, and made their sacrifices and offerings thereon in the eucharistic liturgy or mass; for shortly afterwards he adds, "God has manifested to us by all the Prophets, that he has no occasion for our sacrifices, or burnt offerings, or oblations," nevertheless they had an altar, it was the altar of the priesthood of Christ, round which all believers were congregated" in the holiest of all," by union with the one High Priest of the Church who lives an eternal life of sacerdotal glory for the benefit of the elect, and this altar is mentioned in Scripture (Heb. xiii. 10).
Another passage is well worthy our attention, the fairest in the whole Epistle. "I find therefore that there is a temple, but how shall it be built in the name of the Lord? Learn how this is: before that we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corruptible and without strength, as a temple built indeed with hands. For it was a house full of idolatry, a house of devils, inasmuch as there was done in it whatsoever was contrary to God. But it shall be built in the name of the Lord; consider how that temple of the Lord should be very gloriously built, and by what means that shall be, learn. Having received remission of our sins, and trusting in the name of the Lord, we are become renewed, being again created, as it were from the beginning. Wherefore God truly dwells in our house, that is, in us. The word of his faith, the calling of his promise, the wisdom of his righteousness, the commands of his doctrine: he himself prophesieth within us; he himself dwelleth in us; and he himself openeth to us, who were in the bondage of death the door of our temple-that is, he openeth our mouth,† having given repentance unto us; and so he has introduced
*# "Sicut ergo locutus est, honestius et altius accedere ad aram illius."
The reader will observe, in this passage, that Barnabas falls far short of the inspired writers in the management of his metaphors.