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ing tables,” and making a prudent and faithful distribution of the stock of the society, Acts vi. 2.
And these several officers were to be examples of all virtue to the rest of the christian societies, in which they presided and ministered : as these societies themselves were to be examples to the world around them.
These apostles of Christ, (of whom we have particularly spoken,) together with their companions and fellow-labourers, evangelists, and others, had such success in the work of preaching the gospel, that before they left the world, they had erected societies, or churches of christians, in most parts of the Roman empire; in the countries of Judea, Cyprus, Crete, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, Greece, and Italy, in the cities of Jerusalem, Cæsarea, Antioch, Ephesus, Athens, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Rome, and in other cities and countries : consisting, it is likely, for the most part, of persons of mean condition. But there were likewise among them men of learning, wealth, and power.
By these means, and upon this foundation, was raised the church of Christ, which still subsists, and against which, according to his express assurance, no adverse power shall ever prevail, Matt. xvi. 16.
This is the substance of the history of the New Testament, which being well known, needs not, I presume, to be drawn out here into a greater length. Of these several things I propose to collect the evidence, which there may be in ancient writers; whether christians or others.
I begin with testimonies of christian writers, which will be placed in the following order.
I. Their testimonies concerning the antiquity, genuineness, and authority of the books of the New Testament, in which is contained this history.
II. Their testimonies concerning the facts, properly so called; the birth, miracles, death, resurrection of Jesus Christ; the mission of the apostles, their miracles, and suc
III. The doctrine and principles of belief and practice, delivered and taught by Christ and his apostles.
• Some however are of opinion, that the seven men of the church of Jerusalem, who were appointed by the apostles for serving tables,' were quite different from the deacons, concerning whom Paul speaks in his epistles to Timothy and the Philippians, and who were known by the name of deacons in the primitive christian churches. They think, that the seven in the Acts were extraordinary ministers or assistants, chosen for a particular occasion, the like to which were not continued in the church. This opinion has been learnedly asserted by Vitringa de Synagog. Vet. l. 3. p. 2. cap. v. p. 920-934.
IV. The worship appointed by Christ and his apostles.
Which two last are to be considered as facts; that is, that those principles were delivered, and that worship here spoken of was appointed by Christ, and his apostles.
All which testimonies to these several matters of fact may be confirmed, I believe, by some considerations, which will add weight to them, and very much increase their credibility.
And if it should be needful, some objections to the validity of this evidence may be stated and considered.
I now proceed to exhibit in the first place the testimonies of christian writers concerning the books of the New Testament.
The Reigns of the Roman Emperors during the first Two
Centuries of the Christian Æra.
A. D. Augustus having reigned from the death of Julius
Cæsar 57 years and some months, and from the August 19. 14.
defeat of Mark Antony at Actium, 44 years, died Tiberias began his reign
August 19. Caius Caligula
March 16. 37. Claudius
January 24. 41. Nero
October 13. 54. Nero died
June 9. 68. Galba
June 9. 68.
| Jan. 15.
Apr. 16. Vitellius
Jan. 2. 69.
Dec. 21. Vespasian began his reign
July 1. 69. Titus
June 24. 79. Domitian
September 13. 81. Nerva
September 18. 96. Trajan
January 27. 98. Adrian
August 10. 117. Antoninus Pius
July 10. 138. M. Antoninus the Philosopher
March 7. 161. Commodus
March 17. 180. Helvius Pertinax
December 31. 192. Didius Julianus
March 28. 193. Septimius Severus
April 13. 193. and reigned to
February 4. 211.
PART II. CHAP. I.
ST. BARNABAS. HIS HISTORY,
BARNABAS was a Levite, of the country of Cyprus, and one of those christians, who, soon after the resurrection of Jesus, sold their goods and lands, and brought the money, and “ laid it at the apostles' feet," Acts iv. 36, 37. He afterwards preached the gospel in divers parts, together with the apostle Paul, Acts xv. 36. But upon a dissension about the
person that should accompany them in a journey they were undertaking, they separated from each other : though, it is likely, in friendship or at least they were afterwards reconciled, as may be concluded from the honourable and affectionate mention which St. Paul makes of Barnabas, and Mark, the person about whom the dispute was, in some of his epistles. And Barnabas has this testimony given him by St. Luke, that he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith.”. There is little known of him,
' besides what is said in the New Testament; except that some of the ancients have supposed him to be one of Christ's seventy disciples, whom he employed in preaching in the land of Judea, in his own lifetime on earth.
There is still extant an epistle, ascribed to St. Barnabas. It consists of two parts. The first is an exhortation and argument to constancy in the belief and profession of the christian doctrine; particularly, the simplicity of it without a 1 Cor. ix. 6.
b Col. iv, 10. 2 Tim. iv, 11. Philem. 24.
c Acts xi. 24. VOL. II.
the rites of the Jewish law. The second part contains moral instructions.
In order to judge of the antiquity and authority of this piece, and the value of the testimonies to be taken from it; I shall give some account of it from the most ancient christian writers. The same method will be observed with regard to other writings, which I now take with this epistle, the first piece quoted by me.
St. Clement of Alexandria has often quoted him, and sometimes calls him apostle. •Rightlyd therefore says the apostle Barnabas. I neede only allege the apostolical
Barnabas, one of the seventy, and fellow-worker with • Paul.' These quotations are from the first part of this epistle. He has also quoted a passage found in the last chapter of this epistle, which assures us, that the second part, containing the moral instructions, was supposed to be his, as well as the former.
Origen, in his answer toCelsus, quotes it with the title of · The Catholic Epistle of Barnabas.' In another work h he has quoted from him a passage now found in the second part of this epistle, as the former was from the first part of it.
Eusebiusi says, “ That Clement [of Alexandria] in his • Institutions [a book now lost] has written short commen* taries upon the books of scripture, not omitting those that
are contradicted : I mean the epistle of Jude, and the other · Catholic epistles, and that of Barnabas, and the Revelation • of Peter.' . In another place Eusebius reckons this epistle among those books that are spurious, meaning, it is likely, contradicted.
St. Jerom, in his catalogue of illustrious' men, says; · Barnabas of Cyprus, called Joseph, a Levite, ordained an
apostle of the Gentiles with Paul, wrote an epistle for the • edification of the church, which is read among the apocryphal scriptures.'
These testimonies, without adding any more, let us see the opinions of the ancients concerning this epistle; the passages cited by them being still found in that epistle, which we now have under the name of Barnabas,
The judgments of them moderns are various. Pearson,
d Strom. I. 2. p. 373. Paris, 1629. e Ibid. p. 410. Lib. I. p. 49. Cantab. 1677.
h De Princip. I. 3. c. 2. i Hist. Ec. 1. 6. c. 14. vid. et c. 13.
k Ibid. 1. 3. c. 25. I Cap. 6.
m The sentiments of many moderns concerning this epistle are collected by Mr. J. Jones: New and full method of settling the canonical authority of the New Testament, vol. 2. c. 38.
Cave, Du Pin, Wake, and many other learned men, suppose it to be a genuine epistle of Barnabas, the companion of Paul. Some are more doubtful, as" Cotelerius: who is rather inclined to think, it was not written by Barnabas. Others think, there are many things in it unworthy of him. The objections against the genuineness of it are strongly urged byo Basnage. And the late Mr. Jeremiah Jones P has offered in our own language many objections to the same purpose.
But the real difficulties may be reduced to a small number.
The epistle has no inscription, not being directed to the christians of any particular place: for which reason it has been sometimes called a Catholic epistle. Many learned men have supposed, as! Wake does, that it was addressed to the Jews, - to draw them off from the letter of the law to • a spiritual understanding of it.'
It appears to me most probable, that this epistle was written by Barnabas, and not to Jews, but to Gentiles: or perlaps rather to christians in general, of whatever nation or people they were. The design of the epistle I think likewise to be the same with that, which is the main design of St. Paul in the epistle to the Galatians, and in part
in other epistles; to abate in christians the respect for the peculiar rites and institutions of the Jewish laws, and to show, that they were not binding upon christians: which design may be also observed in the first epistle of St. Peter,
It seems evident from a passage of the epistle itself, that the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed at the time of writing it. • For,' says' he, ó through their waging war it has been
destroyed by their enemies.' In another place the author writes : * Considers yet this also; that (or since] ye have
seen so great signs and prodigies in the people of the Jews, • and thus God forsakes them. From both which
From both which passages I conclude, that the temple was but just destroyed; and that the signs and prodigies preceding and attending the destruction of Jerusalem had happened in the time of the
" Eo magis inclino, ut censeam non esse apostoli. Coteler. Judicium de Epist. S. Barnab. • Ann. Pol. Eccles. A. D. 50. n. 52. et seq.
P As above, c. 39. 9 See his Discourse prefixed to the Genuine Epistles of the Apostolical Fathers. Chap. vii. sect. 14. and 35.
Υ Δια γαρ το πολεμειν αυτες, καθηρεθε υπο των εχθρων. c. 16.
$ Adhuc et illud intelligite, cum videritis tanta signa et monstra in populo Judæorum, et sic illos derelinquit Dominus, cap. iv. The late archbishop of Canterbury translates it thus : Consider this also : although you have seen so
great signs and wonders done among the people of the Jews, yet this not• withstanding the Lord has forsaken them. But I humbly apprehend, that his lordship has misinterpreted this passage, the verb derelinquit being in the present tense.