EPISTLE OF ST. BARNABAS
[Extracted from his The Genuine Epistles, (1846 ed.), pp. 148-81.]
Why the pieces that follow are put in a Second Part,
separate from the foregoingThe story of St.
Barnabas, chiefly from the Acts of the Apostles Of
his name, education, and travels with St. PaulHow
he came to be separated from that apostleWhat
he did afterwardsOf his death, and the
invention of his relics; and of the Cyprian privileges established on that
accountOf the present epistle; that it was
truly written by St. BarnabasThe principal
objections against it answeredAn apology
for its allegorical interpretations of scripturesThe
latter part of it originally belonging to this epistleThat
it was written alter the destruction of JerusalemThe
design and usefulness of it.
1. When I first entered upon the design of publishing the present collection, I intended to have here put an end to it: the following pieces, under the names of Barnabas and Hermas, together with the second epistle of St. Clement, (however undoubtedly very ancient, and confess by all to come but little, if any thing, short of the apostolical times,) having yet neither been so highly esteemed among the ancients, nor so generally received by many of the present times, as those I have already mentioned. But when I considered the deference which among the primitive fathers have paid to them, and the value which is still put upon them by many not inferior either in learning or to those who speak against them, I thought I could not better satisfy all, than by adding them in a second part to the foregoing epistles; that so both they who have a just esteem for them might not complain of being defrauded of any part of what remains o( the apostolical writings; and those who are otherwise minded might look upon this as standing in a second rank, and not taking place (which they otherwise must have done) of those undoubtedly genuine and admirable discourses that make up the former part of this work.
2. And here the first piece that occurs is the Catholic Epistle of St. Barnabas, the companion of St. Paul, and disciple of our Saviour Christ; being generally esteemed to have been one of the seventy that were chosen by him: however, our country man Bede calls the verdict of antiquity in question as to this matter, upon this account, bee St. Luke (Acts iv.) seemeth to intimate that he first came to the apostles after the ascension of our Lord, and then embraced the Chris faith. To this it may be added that he is there called a Levite of Cyprus, not one of the seventy disciples, which would have been much more for his honour to have been mentioned. The mistake of Clemens Alexandrinus, &c, if it were one, seems to have arisen from hence, that Joseph Barnabas, or as other MSS. have it, Joses Barnabas, the competitor of St. Matthias, Acts i., (as on the contrary some MSS. Acts iv. have Joseph Barsabas,) who probably was of the seventy, as well as Matthias, was confounded by them with our Barnabas; of whom, whatever becomes as to his discipleship, this we are sure, that the Holy Ghost, by St. Luke, has left us this advantageous character of him, Acts xi. 24, "That he was a good man, full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost."
3. It is not my design to enter on any long account of the life of a person so largely spoken of in the Holy Scriptures, and of whom little certain can be written, besides what is there recorded. His country was Cyprus, a famous island in the Mediterranean sea; where there inhabited in those days so great a number of Jews, that in the time of Trajan, they conspired against the Gentiles, and slew of them b two hundred and forty thousand men. Upon which being cast out of the isle, they were never suffered upon any account to set foot again in it, upon pain of death.
4. His name was at first Joses, but by the apostles changed into Barnabas; which being interpreted, says St. Luke, is the Son of Consolation; and, as we may conjecture from the place where it was first mentioned, was given him by the apostles, as an honourable acknowledgment of his charity in selling his whole estate for the relief of the poor Christians, and upon the account of that consolation which they received thereby.
5. His first education, Metaphrastes tells us, was at the feet of Gamaliel, by whom he was instructed, together with St. Paul; which perhaps moved that great apostle, upon his conversion, to apply himself to him, as the properest person to introduce him into the acquaintance of the other apostles; and afterwards to embrace him as his chief friend and fellow-labourer in the work of the gospel. For they are both mentioned (Acts xi. 26) "to have taught much people at Antioch;" and that for a whole year together; and in the thirteenth chapter are numbered among the prophets and teachers of the Christian church there, verse 2, where we read that they did [Greek], which some in a special manner interpret of the celebration of the holy eucharist. Here, then, we find them both, by teaching and administering that blessed sacrament, discharging the work of a priest, or presbyter, as we now understand that word. But they still wanted the apostolical, or episcopal character; by virtue of which they might do that ordinarily which, as prophets, they I only do in extraordinary cases, and by an experience of the Holy Spirit; namely, found churches, and ordain elders or bishops in every place. This dignity, therefore, we are told they now received, by the laying on of the hands of the other three prophets here mentioned; namely, Simeon Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, Acts iii. 3. And from thenceforth, not only their title was changed, (they being afterwards called spot xiv. 4, and 14), but they exercised another sort of power, "Ordained elders in every church," verse 23. This was Barnabas, together with St. Paul, first a teacher and a prophet; then consecrated to be a bishop, or an apostle: according to the order which our Lord himself had appointed, that there should be in his church, first, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers, 1 Cor. xii. 29; which those, therefore, would do well to consider, who thrust themselves at once into the highest station and full power of the church, not allowing distinct degrees of the same, nor, by consequence, successive ordinations, or consecrations to it. Whereas St. Paul, though he was called to be an apostle, "not by man, but by Jesus Christ" himself, (Galat i.) was crated to be an apostle by the ordinary form of imposition of hands, after he had preached in the church for some time before.
6. How these two apostles travelled together, and what they did in the discharge of their ministry, is at large set down, both by St. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, and by St. Paul, himself in his epistle to the Galatians: in which we have the history of men truly concerned for the propagation of the gospel, and despising not only their ease but their very lives themselves in comparison of it. Many a weary journey did they take, and danger did they run: they preached in the day; and, when they had so done, they wrought with their own hands in the night for their subsistence; that so they might not be burdensome to any, nor seem to seek their own advantage, but the profit of those to whom they tendered the gospel.
7. Among other countries to which they went, we are told that one of the first was Cyprus, the native island of St. Barnabas: and that not of their own motion, but by the express order and appointment of the Holy Ghost. How they prevailed there, and by what miracles they the conversion of it, first at Salamis, then at Paphos we are at large informed by St. Luke, Acts iii. From thence they fetched a pretty large compass through the Lesser Asia; and having, with various success, preached to several cities of it, after about three years travel they again returned to Antioch in Syria, the place from which they first set out.
8. Here they tarried a considerable space, in a sedulous
discharge of their ministry; till some controversies arising between the Jewish
and the Gentile converts, they were obliged, for the better composing of them,
to go up to Jerusalem; where a final end was put to them, by a a synodical
decree of the apostles and elders assembled together for that purpose.
9. With joy they returned to their disciples at Antioch, and brought the determination of that divine synod unto them. But it was not long ere St. Peter coming down after them, a little abated their satisfaction: whilst, to please the Jewish converts, he dissembled his Christian liberty, and, as St. Paul complains, led Barnabas also into the same dissimulation with him.
10. And here St. Paul had occasion, first of all, to reprove St. Barnabas, which he did with great freedom, for his unseasonable compliance. But it was not very long before he had another occasion offered for a yet worse contention with him: for the next year, these two holy men having agreed to take a new progress together, and to visit the churches which they had planted in Asia some years before, Barnabas was for taking his cousin Mark again with them, but St. Paul would not consent to it; because that, in their former travels, he had too much consulted his own ease and safety, and left them at Pamphylia in the midst of their journey.
11. Being both resolute in their opinions, the one to take Mark, his kinsman, with him, the other not to yield to it, they not only came to some sharp words with one another about it, but went their several ways, Barnabas with Mark to Cyprus, and Paul with Silas into Syria and Cilicia. Thus, after a joint labour in their ministry for almost fourteen years, where these two excellent men, by a small punctilio, separated from one another: the Holy Spirit of God intending hereby to show us that the best Christians are still subject to the same infirmities with other men; and therefore ought not to be either too much exalted in the conceit of their own piety, or to despise others whom they suppose to be less perfect than themselves.
12. Nor was it a small benefit which from hence accrued, not only to the church, which thereby enjoyed the benefit of these two great men much more in their separate labours than if they had continued still together, but particularly to St. Mark, who being, by the severity of St. Paul, brought to a deep sense of his former indifference in the work of the gospel, and yet not left by St. Barnabas to give way to any desperate resolutions thereupon, became afterwards a most useful minister of Christ, and deserved not only to be made again the companion' of St. Paul, but to receive a very high testimony of his zeal from him. So well does the wisdom of God know how to turn the infirmities of men to his own glory, and to the good of those who serve him with an honest and upright heart!
13. What became of St. Barnabas after this, and whither he went, is uncertain. Some tell us, that from Cyprus he went on to Rome, and preached the gospel there, even before St Peter came thither. Bat though Baronius can by no means allow of this, yet is he content that Barnabas should be thought to have come thither after him. At least this he pretends to be without dispute, that St. Barnabas came into Italy, and preached the gospel in Liguria; where he founded the famous church of Milan, "as from many ancient monuments and writers," says he, "might be made appear;" though at the same time be produces not one testimony in proof it. I shall therefore conclude, till I am better informed, that St. Barnabas spent the remains of his life in converting his own countrymen, the Jews; of which, as I have before observed, there were such vast numbers in that island, and for whom we cannot but think he must have had a very tender regard. Or, if we shall suppose him to have gone any farther, I presume it was only into the neighbouring parts of the Lesser Asia and Judea, where he had before preached; or at farthest into Egypt, where some tell us, he went, and consecrated his nephew, St. Mark, the first bishop of the Christian church at Alexandria.
14. An I in this opinion I am the rather confirmed from the consideration of his epistle, which I have here subjoined; which seems manifestly to have been designed for the benefit of the Jews: and to show how all the parts of their law had a farther spiritual meaning than what at first Bight appeared, and were designed to lead them to the faith and piety of the gospel.
15. In this exercise, therefore, he most likely spent his
life; and, if we may credit the relation of the monk in Surius, who writes the
acts of this holy evangelist, at last suffered martyrdom in the prosecution of
it; being at the instigation of certain Jews that came from Syria to Salamis
shut up in a synagogue where he was disputing with them, and at night stoned by
them. What truth there is in this story I cannot tell; but this I must observe,
which Baronius himself is forced to acknowledge, that there is nothing of this
kind to be met with in any ancient author; nor does either Eusebius or St.
Jerome, where they treat expressly of this holy man, so much as once give the
title of martyr to him.
18. But whatever were the manners of St. Barnabas's death, yet famous is the story of the invention of his relics, delivered by the same monk; who, as Baronius tells us, lived at the same time under Zeno the emperor; and confirmed by the concurrent testimonies of Theodorus, Nicephorus, Cedrenus, Sigebert, Marianus Scotus, and others. With what ceremony this was performed, and how this blessed saint appeared twice to Anthemius, then bishop of Salamis, in order to the discovery of his own relics; and how the emperor commanded a stately church to be built over the place of his burial, I shall leave it to those who are fond of such stories, to read at large in Baronius,' and the monk, whom I have before mentioned. It will be of more concern to take notice, that Nilus Doxapater tells us that this very thing was the ground of the Cyprian privileges: where, speaking of certain provinces that depended not upon any of the greater patriarchates, he instances first of all in Cyprus; "which," says he, "continues free, and is subject to none of the patriarchs, because of the apostle Barnabas being found in it." And the same is the account which Nicephorus also gives us of it; and which was assigned before in the Notitia, ascribed to Leo, as I find it quoted by Monsieur Le Moyne, in his preface to his late collection of several ancient pieces relating to ecclesiastical antiquity.
17. Together with his body was found, says Alexander, the gospel of St. Matthew, written in the Hebrew tongue, lying upon his breast; but Nilus says that of his kinsman St. Mark. Which of the two it was, or whether any thing of all this was more than a mere story, contrived by Anthemius to get the better of Peter, patriarch of Antioch, I shall not undertake to determine. It is enough that we are assured that by this means he not only preserved his privileges against Peter, but got his see confirmed by the emperor as an independent see: which was also afterwards again done by Justinian, at the instigation of the empress Theodora, who was herself a Cyprian.
18. But to return to that which is more properly the business
of these reflections; it does not appear that St. Barnabas left any more in
writing than the epistle I have here subjoined. Some indeed there were
heretofore who thought that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written by him.
Tertullian confidently quotes it as his: nor does St. Hierome censure him for
it, but leaves it as a doubt whether it should be ascribed to him, or to St.
Luke, St. Clement, or St. Paul: though he seems rather to incline to St. Paul.
But that this is a mistake, and that St. Paul was indeed the author of the
Epistle to the Hebrews, has been largely and learnedly proved by Mr. Mills, in
his Prolegomena to the New Testament, so as to put that matter beyond all doubt.
As for the present epistle, it is certain that several of the ancient fathers
took it to be undoubtedly of St Barnabas's writing. Clemens Alexandrinns quotes
it as such, both in his Stromata, yet extant, and in his lost books of
Hypotyposes, as is remarked by Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical. Origen calls it
the Catholic epistle without the least intimation of any doubt about it, as he
uses to give when he qnoteth other apocryphal books; as those of Hermas, of
which more hereafter. Others indeed of the fathers seem, if not to have denied
that this epistle was written by Barnabas the apostle, yet at least to have
doubted of it. Eusebius' reckons it among the scriptures of the New Testament
which were received by some, and contradicted by others. St. Jerome' reckons it
among the apocryphal books, which not put into the canon of the Holy Scriptures,
upon the account of the uncertainty of their authors, and consequently of their
19. Which being so, I cannot but wonder at some in our own times, who without any better grounds peremptorily pronounce it to be none of St. Barnabas's: whereas of the ancient ecclesiastical writers who lived much nearer the age of our author, some positively affirmed it; and though some others doubted of it, yet none plainly denied it; at least, it does not appear that any did so. And of this Cotelerius seems to have been sensible; who though he did not care to ascribe it to the Barnabas of whom we are now discoursing, yet was forced to suppose that some other Barnabas wrote it; without which he saw there could be no way of answering the concurrent verdict of all antiquity, which has universally agreed in Barnabas as the author of it. But now who this other Barnabas was, or that in those times there was any such as he pretends not to tell us; and they who ascribe it to Barnabas, expressly speak of him as the same of whom I have been hitherto discoursing.
20. But of all others, most unaccountable is the fancy of Monsieur Le Moyne concerning the author of this epistle. He had observed that in several Greek manuscripts it was immediately continued on with that of St. Polycarp; and from this he concludes the two epistles to have been written by St. Polycarp; whereas in truth, by chance in the copy from which the rest were transcribed, a few I lost, containing the end of St. Polycarp's and the beginning of St. Barnabas's epistles; by which means the Greek of both is imperfect. But all the Latin copies ascribing this letter to Barnabas, and the ancient fathers all agreeing to the same, utterly destroy this opinion; in which as he had none to go before him, so I believe he will scarcely meet with any to follow him.
21. Nor are the arguments which they bring against the authority of it of such moment as to overthrow the constant testimonies of the ancients on its behalf. They tell us, first, that it is evident, from the sixteenth chapter of this epistle, that it was written after the destruction of Jerusalem. But why may not Barnabas have been then living, as well as we are sure St. John, and several others of the companies of the apostles were? And if he may have been living after it, why shall not we suppose that he was, as well as they that he was not? seeing it does not appear from the testimony of any ancient writers when he died.
22. But, secondly, they argue yet farther against it. For if this, say they, be the genuine Epistle of St. Barnabas, how comes it to pass that it is not received as canonical? Certainly, had the primitive Christians believed it to have been written by such a man, they would without controversy have placed it among the sacred writings, and not have censured it as of doubtful authority. This is, indeed, a very specious pretence; but which, being a little examined, will be found to have no strength in it: it being certain that the primitive fathers did own this for St. Barnabas's epistle, and yet not receive it into their canon; and, therefore, it does not follow, that had they believed it to have been his they must have esteemed it canonical.
23. What rules they had, or by what measure they proceeded, in those first times, in judging of the canonical scriptures of the New Testament, it is not necessary for me here to inquire. It is enough that we know what books the church did at last agree in as coming under that character. And for the restas we cannot doubt that there was a due care taken in examining into a matter of such importance, and that those primitive fathers did not, without very good reason, distinguish those that were written by Divine inspiration from those that were not; so we are very sure that all was not admitted by them into the rank of canonical scripture that was written by any apostolical man; and therefore it can be no good argument that Barnabas was not the author of this epistle because it is not placed among the sacred writings of the New Testament.
24. But there is yet one objection more, and that much
insisted upon by those who are enemies to this epistle. They tell us it is full
of a strange sort of allegorical interpretation of Holy Scripture; and therefore
unworthy to be fathered upon so evangelical an author. And yet, notwithstanding
this, we find Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen, Eusebius and St. Jerome, (some of
the greatest and most learned critcs of those ages that were the nearest to the
time in which it was written,) not doubting to ascribe it to St. Barnabas, and
to think it worthy too of such an author.
25. I need not say how general a way this was of interpreting Scripture, in the time that St. Barnabas lived; to omit Origen, who has been noted as excessive in it, and for whom yet a learned man has very lately made a reasonable apology, who has ever shown a more diffusive knowledge than Clemens Alexandrinus has done in all his composures? And yet in his works we find the very same method taken of interpreting the Holy Scriptures; and that without any reproach either to his learning or to his judgment. What author has there been more generally applauded for his admirable piety than the other Clement? whose epistle to the Corinthians I have here inserted; and yet even in that plain piece we meet with more than one instance of the same kind of interpretation, which was nevertheless admired by the best and most primitive Christians.
26. Even St. Paul himself, in his epistles received by us as canonical, affords not a few instances of this, which is so much found fault with in St. Barnabas; as I might easily make appear, from a multitude of passages out of them, were it needful for myself on a point which every one who has read the Scriptures with any care cannot choose but have observed.
27. Now that which makes it the less to be wondered at in St. Barnabas is, that the Jews, of which number he himself was originally one, and to whom he wrote, had a long time been wholly addicted to this way of interpreting the law; and taught men to search out a spiritual meaning for almost all the ritual commands and ceremonies of it. This is plain from the account which Alisteas has left us of the rules which Kleazar the high-priest, to whom Ptolemy sent for a copy of the him for the understanding of it. Whenit being objected to him, "That their legislator seemed to have been too curious in little matters; such as the prohibition of meats and drinks, and the like, for which there appeared no just reasonhe showed him at large "That there was a tardier hidden design in it than what at first sight appeared, and that these outward ordinances were out as so many cautions to them against such vices as were principally meant to be forbidden by them." And then goes on to explain this part of the law, after the same manner that Barnabas has done, in the following epistle.
28. But this is not all: Eusebius gives us yet another instance, to confirm this to us; viz. of Aristobulus, who lived at the same time, and delivered the like spiritual meaning of the law, that Eleazar had done before. And that this was still continued among the Hellenistical Jews, is evident from the account that is left us by one of them, who was contemporary with St. Barnabas, and than whom none has been more famous for this way of writing; I mean Philo, in his description of the Therapeutaewhether the same whom in the beginning of his book he calls by the name of Essenes, as Scaliger supposes; or a particular sect of Jews, as Valesius will have it; or lastly, as a kind of monkish converts from Judaism to Christianity, as Eusebius, heretofore described them, and as some other learned men seem rather to conjecture. But, whatever becomes of this, herein they all agree that they were originally Jews; and therefore we may be sure that they followed the same method of interpreting the Scripture that the Alexandrian Jews were wont to do.
29. Now the account which Eusebius, from Philo, gives us of
them, is this. "Their leaders," says he, "left them many ancient writings of
their notions, clothed in allegories." And again: "They interpret the Holy
Scriptures, viz. of the Old Testament, allegorically. For you must know,"
continues he, "that they liken the law to an animal; the words of which make up
the body, but the hidden sense which lies under them, and is not seen, that they
think to be the soul of it." And this was that which a late learned author
supposes rendered their conversion to Christianity more easy. For, being wont to
seek out the spiritual meaning of the law, they more readily embraced the gospel
than those who looked no farther than the outward letter, and were therefore the
harder to be persuaded to come over to so spiritual an institution.
30. It was from hence, I suppose, that the most early heretics were so wedded to their mystical interpretations of scripture, and so much valued themselves upon the account of them: against whose false and impure doctrines our late great critic, Dr. Hammond, supposes St. Barnabas to have principally designed his epistle; and therefore, that, being to deal with men who valued nothing but make kind of expositions, he was forced to confute them In their own way; both as most suitable to their manners, and most proper either to convince them of their errors, or at least to prevent others, especially the Jewish converts, from falling into them.
31. But whether this were so or not, thus much is evident from what baa been said: that the Hellenistical Jews, to whom it is most probable St. Barnabas addressed his epistle, were altogether used to this way of interpreting the Holy Scriptures; and therefore, that howsoever it may appear to us, who are so utterly unaccustomed to it, yet we ought not to wonder that St. Barnabas, who was himself a Jew, should at such time, and upon such an occasion as this, make use of it, or suppose it at all unworthy of him so to do.
Nor indeed were they the Jews only that led the holy men in those days into these mystical expositions of the Sacred Scriptures. Even the Gentile philosophers conduced towards it: whilst the better to cover over the fabulous stories of their gods, which they saw were too ridiculous to be maintained, they explained the whole system of their idolatry by allegorical analogies, and showed all the poetical accounts of them to be only the outside shadows of a sort of natural theology included under those fictions. Thus Heraclides of Pontus a whole book of the allegories of Homer; and Metrodorus of Lampsacus is fallen foul upon by Tatian, his Oration against the Greeks, for pretending that neither Juno, nor Minerva, nor Jupiter, were what those imagined who built temples and altars to them, [Greek]. Nay, so far went this last author in his allegories, as to turn all the Trojan and Grecian heroes into mere fictions; and to make Hector, and Achilles, and Agamemnon, and even Helena herself, nothing less than what one would think they were, and what the common people ignorantly imagined them to be.
33. And for the influence which this had upon the ancient fat] who from philosophers became Christians, the writings both of Justin Martyr, and Clemens Alexandrinus, sufficiently show. And if we may believe Porphyry, an enemy, in the case of Origen, he tells as, in the same place in which he complains of him, "for turning those things that were clearly delivered by Moses, into mystical significations," not only that but did this in imitation of the Grecians, but that it was from his frequent conversation with Numenius and Cronius, Moderatus, Nichomachus, and others among the Pythagoreans, with Chaeremon and Cornutus among the Stoics, that he had learnt his allegorical way of expounding the Holy Scriptures; and applied that to his religion which they were wont to do to their superstition.
34. From all which it appears, that this way of writing, in matters of religion, was in those days generally used, not only among the Jews, but among the wiser and more philosophical of the Gentiles too ; and from both came to be almost universally practised among the primitive Christians ; which being so, we ought to be far from censuring of St. Barnabas for his mystical application of what God prescribed to the Jews in the Old Testament, to the spiritual accomplishment of it in the New. Much less should we ever the more call in question either the truth or credit of his epistle upon this account.
35. Having said thus much either in vindication of the allegorical expositions of this epistle, or at least by way of apology for them, I shall add but little more concerning the epistle itself. I have before observed, as to the time of its writing, that it was somewhat after the destruction of Jerusalem; and as we may conjecture from the subject of it, (for title at present it has none, nor does it appear that it ever had any,) was addressed to the Jews, to draw them off from the letter of the law, to a spiritual understanding of it; and by that means dispose them to embrace the gospel. "Whether he had, besides this, a farther design in it, as Dr. Hammond supposes, to confute the errors of the Gnostic heretics, and to prevent the Jewish converts from falling into them, it is not certain, but may, from the chief points insisted upon by him, be probably enough supposed. If any one shall think it strange that, disputing against the Jews for the truth of the gospel, he should not have urged any of those passages relating to the Messiah, which seem to us the most apposite to such a purpose,such as the oracle of Jacob concerning the time that Shiloh was to come; the seventy weeks of Daniel; the prophecies of Haggai and Malachi; of his coming while the second temple stood, and which was now destroyed when he wrote this epistle; and the like: Monsieur Le Moyne will give him a ready answer, viz. that these passages relate chiefly to the time of Christ's appearing, and that this was no controversy in these days: the Jew was not only confessing it, but being ready at every turn, through this persuasion, to set up some one or other for their Messiah, to their shame and confusion; it was, therefore, then, but little necessary to use those arguments against them, which now appear to be the most proper and convincing. Since the state of the question has been altered, and the Jews deny either that their Messiah is come, or that it was necessary for him to have come about the time that our Saviour Christ appeared in the flesh.
36. But though the chief design of this epistle was to
convince the Jews of the truth of our religion, yet are there not wanting in the
latter part of it many excellent rules, to render it still very useful to the
pious reader. Indeed some have doubted whether this did originally belong to
this epistle, or whether it bas not since been added to it. But seeing we find
this part quoted by the fathers as belonging to St Barnabas, no leas than the
other,and that the measure assigned to it,
in the ancient Stichometries, can hardly be well accounted for without it,I
do not see but that we ought to conclude, that our author did divide his epistle
into the two parts in which we now have it; and that this latter, as well as the
former, was written by him.
37. As for the translation which I have here given of it, I have n it up out of what remains of the original Greek, and of the old Version; and of each of which, though a part be lost, yet it is fallen out, that between them we not only have the whole epistle, but that too, free of those interpolations which Yossius tells us some bad endeavoured to make in this, as well as in Ignatius's epistles. The passages of Holy Scripture which are here quoted according to the Septuagint, I have chose rather to set down as they are in our Bible, than to amuse the common reader with a new translation of them. Upon the whole, I have endeavoured to attain to the sense my author, and to make him as plain and easy as we able. If in any thing I shall have chanced to mistake him, I have only this to say for myself, that he must be better acquainted with the road than I pretend to be, who will undertake to travel so long a journey in the dark, and never to miss his way.
CATHOLIC EPISTLE OF ST. BARNABAS
All happiness to you, my sons and daughters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ y who loved us, in peace.
I. Having perceived abundance of knowledge of the great and excellent a laws of God to be in you, I exceedingly rejoice in your blessed and admirable souls, because ye have so worthily received the grace which was grafted in you. For which cause, I am full of joy, hoping the rather to be saved; inasmuch as I truly see a spirit infused into you, from the pure, fountain of God. Having this persuasion, and being fully convinced thereof, because that since I have begun to speak unto you, I have had a more than ordinary good success in the way of the laws of the Lord, which is in Christ. For which cause, brethren, I also think, verily, that I love you above my own soul; because that therein dwelleth the greatness of faith and charity, as also the hope of that life which is to come. Wherefore considering this, that if I shall take care to communicate to you a part of what I have received, it shall turn to my reward that I have served such good souls, I gave diligence to write in a few words unto you, that together with your faith, your knowledge also may be perfect. There are, therefore, three things ordained by the Lordthe hope of life, the beginning, and the completion of it. For the Lord hath both declared unto us, by the prophets, those things that are past, and opened to us the beginnings of those that are to come. Wherefore, it will behove us, as he has spoken, to come more holily? and nearer to his altar. I therefore, not as a teacher, but as one of you, will endeavour to lay before you a few things by which you may, on many accounts/ become the more joyful.
II. Seeing, then, the days art exceeding evil, and the adversary has got the power of this present world, we ought to give the more diligence to inquire into the righteous judgments of the Lord. Now the assistants of our faith are, fear and patience; our fellow-combatants, long-suffering and continence. Whilst these remain pure in what relates unto the Lord, wisdom, and understanding, and science, and knowledge, rejoiced together with them. For God has manifested to us, by all the prophets, that he has no occasion for our sacrifices, or burnt-offerings, or oblations; saying thus: "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt-offerings of rains, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of he-goats. When you come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hands? Ye shall no more tread my courts. Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me: your new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts, my soul hateth." These things, therefore, hath God abolished, that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is without the yoke of any such necessity, might have the spiritual offering of men themselves. For so the Lord saith to those heretofore, "Did I at all command your fathers, when he came out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices: but this I commanded them, saying, Let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour, and love no false oath." Forasmuch then as we are not without understanding, we ought to apprehend the design of our merciful Father. For he speaks to us, being willing that we, who have been in the same error about the sacrifices, should seek and find how to approach unto him. And therefore he thus bespeaks us: "The sacrifice of God [is a broken spirit,] a broken and contrite heart God will not despise." Wherefore, brethren, we ought the more diligently to inquire after those things that belong to our salvation, that the adversary may not have any entrance into us, and deprive us of our spiritual life.
III. Wherefore he again speaketh to them concerning these
things; "Ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on
high. Is it such a fast that that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his
soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, and sackcloth and ashes under
him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord? But to us he
saith on this wise: 'Is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bands
of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free: and
that ye break every yoke? is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that
thou bring the poor that are cast out of thy house? When thou seest the naked
that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? Then
shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall spring forth
speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of the Lord
shall be thy rearward. Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou
shalt cry, and shall say. Here I am. If thou put away from the midst of thee the
yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity: and if thou draw out
thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul." In this, therefore,
brethren, God has manifested his foreknowledge and mercy to us; because the
people which he has purchased to his beloved Son were to believe in sincerity;
and therefore he has shown these things to all of us, that we shall not run as
proselytes to the Jewish law.
IV. Wherefore is it necessary that, searching diligently into those things which are near to come to pass, we should write to you what may serve to keep you whole. To which end, let us flee from every evil work, and hate the errors of the present time, that we may be happy in that which is to come. Let us not give ourselves the liberty of disputing with the wicked and sinners, lest we should chance in time to become like unto them. "For the consummation of sin is come," as it is written, as the prophet Daniel says. And for this end the Lord hath shortened the times and the days, that his beloved might hasten his coming to his inheritance. For so the prophet speaks, "There shall ten kings reign in the earth; and there shall rise, last of all, another little one, and he shall humble three kings." And again, Daniel speaks in like manner concerning the kingdoms, "And I saw the fourth beast dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had ten horns. I considered the horns; and behold there came up among them another little horn, before which were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots." We ought, therefore, to understand this also: and I beseech you, as one of your own brethren, loving you all beyond my own life, that you look well to yourselves, and be not like those who add sin to sin, and say, "that their covenant is ours also." Nay, but it is ours only; for they have for ever lost that which Moses received. For thus saith the Scripture: "And Moses continued fasting forty days and forty nights in the mount; and he received the covenant from the Lord, even two tables of stone written by the hand of God." But having turned themselves to idols, they lost it; as the Lord also said unto Moses, "Moses, go down quickly, for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt, have corrupted themselves, and turned aside from the way which I commanded them. And Moses cast the two tables out of his bands,"and their covenant was broken, that the love of Jesus might be healed in your hearts, unto the hope of his faith. Wherefore let us give heed unto the last times. For all the time past of our life and our faith will profit us nothing, unless we continue to hate what is evil, and to withstand the future temptations. So the Son of God tells us, "Let us resist all iniquity and hate it." Wherefore consider the works of the evil way. Do not withdraw yourselves from others, as if you were already justified; but coming altogether into one place, inquire what is agreeable to, and profitable for the beloved of God. For the Scripture saith, "Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight." Let us become spiritual, a perfect temple to God. As much as in us lies, let us meditate upon the fear of God; and strive, to the utmost of our power, to keep his commandments, that we may rejoice in his righteous judgments. For God will judge the world without respect of persons; and every one shall receive according to his works. If a man shall be good, his righteousness shall go before him; if wicked, the reward of his wickedness shall follow him. Take heed, therefore, lest sitting still, now that we are called, we tail asleep in our sins the wicked one, getting the dominion over us, stir us up, and shut us out of the kingdom of the Lord. Consider this also: although you have seen so great signs and wonders done among the people of the Jews, yet (this notwithstanding) the Lord hath forsaken them. Beware therefore, lest it happen to us as it is written, "There be many called, but few chosen."
V. For this cause did our Lord vouchsafe to give up his body to destruction, that through the forgiveness of our sins we might he sanctified; that is, by the sprinkling of his blood. Now for what concerns the things that are written about himsome belong to the people of the Jews, and some to us. For thus saith the Scripture, "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; and by his blood we are healed. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before his shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." Wherefore we ought the more to give thanks unto God, forth it he hath both declared unto us what is passed, and not suffered us to be without understanding of those things that are to come. But to them he saith, "The nets are not unjustly spread for the birds." This he spake, because a man will justly perish, if having the knowledge of the way of truth, he shall nevertheless not refrain himself from the way of darkness. And for this cause the Lord was content to suffer for our souls, although he be the Lord of the whole earth; to whom God said before the beginning of the world, "Let us make man after our own image and likeness." Now, how he suffered for us, seeing it was by men that he underwent it, I will show you. The prophets, having received from him the gift of prophecy, spake before concerning him; but he, that he might abolish death, and make known the resurrection from the dead, was content, as it was necessary to appear in the flesh, that he might make good the promise before given to our fathers; and preparing himself a new people, might demonstrate to them, whilst he was upon earth, that after the resurrection he would judge the world. And finally, teaching the people of Israel, and doing many wonders and signs among them, he preached to them, and showed the exceeding great love which he bare towards them. And when he chose his apostles, which were afterwards to publish his gospel, he took men who had been very great sinners; that thereby he might plainly show, "That he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Then he clearly manifested himself to be the Son of God. For had he not come in the flesh, how could men have been able to look upon him that they might be saved? seeing if they behold only the sun, which was the work of his hands, and shall hereafter cease to be, they are not able to endure steadfastly to look against the rays of it. Wherefore the Son of God came in the flesh from this cause, that he might fill up the measure of their iniquity who have persecuted his prophets unto death. And for the same reason also he suffered; for God hath said, "of the stripes of his flesh, that they were from them." And, "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered." Thus he would suffer, because it behoved him to suffer upon the cross. For thus one saith, prophesying concerning him, "Spare my soul from the sword." And again, "Pierce my flesh from thy fear." And again, "The congregation of wicked doers rose up against me [they have pierced my hands and my feet]." And again, he saith, "I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to be buffeted, and my face I set as an hard rock."
VI. And when he had fulfilled the commandment of God, what says he? "Who will contend with me? Let him stand against me: or who is he that will implead me? Let him draw near to the servant of the Lord. Wo be to you! Because ye shall all wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat you up." And again the prophet adds, "He is put for a stone of stumbling. Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation, a precious stone, a choice corner-stone, an honourable-stone." And what follows "And be that hopeth in him shall live for ever." What men? Is our hope built upon a stone? God forbid. But because the Lord bath hardened his flesh against sufferings, he saith "I have put me as a firm rock." And again the he adds, "The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner." And again be saith, "This is the great and wonderful day which the Lord hath made."' [I write then plainly to you that ye may understand.] For, indeed I could be content even to die for your sakes. But what saith the prophet again, "The counsel of the wicked encompassed me about. They came about me, about the honeycomb;" and, "upon my vesture they cast lots." Forasmuch then as our Saviour was to appear in the flesh, and suffer, his passion was hereby fore told. For thus saith the prophet against Israel, "Wo be to their soul. they have taken wicked counsel against themselves, saying, "Let us lay snares for the righteous, because he is unprofitable to us." Moses also in like manner speaketh to them; "Behold, thus saith the Lord God, enter ye into the good land of which the Lord hath sworn to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, that he would give it you, and possess it: a land flowing with milk and honey." Now what the spiritual meaning of this is, learn. It is as if it had been said, put your trust in Jesus, who shall be manifested to you in the flesh. For man is the earth which suffers, forasmuch as out of the substance of the earth Adam was formed. What, therefore, does he mean when he says, "Into a good land flowing with milk and honey?" Blessed be our Lord, who has given us wisdom, and a heart to understand his secrets! For so says the prophet, "Who shall understand the sayings of the Lord but he that is wise, and intelligent, and that loves his Lord." Seeing, therefore, he has renewed us by the remission of our sins, he has put us into another frame, that we should have souls like those of our children, forming us again himself by the Spirit. For thus the scripture saith concerning us, where it introduceth the Father speaking to his Son; "Let us make man after our likeness and similitude; and let them have dominion over the beasts of the earth, and over the fowls of the air, and over the fish of the sea." And when the Lord saw the man which he bad formed, that behold he was very good, he said, "Increase, and multiply, and replenish the earth." And this he spake to his Son. I will now show you how he made us a new creature in the latter days. The Lord saith, "Behold, I will make the last as the first." Wherefore the prophet thus spake, "Enter into the land flowing with milk and honey, and have dominion over it." Wherefore ye see how we are again formed anew; as also he speaks by another prophet, "Behold, saith the Lord, I will take from them (that is, from those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw) their hearts of stone, and I will put into them hearts of flesh;" because he was about to be made manifest in the flesh, and to dwell in us. For, my brethren, the habitation of our heart is a holy temple unto the Lord. For the Lord saith again, "In what place shall I appear before the Lord my God, and be glorified?" He answers, "I will confess unto thee in the congregation in the midst of my brethren; and will sing unto thee in the church of the saints." Wherefore we are they whom he has brought into that good land. But what signifies the milk and honey? Because as the child is nourished first with milk, and then with honey, so we, being kept alive by the belief of his promises and his word, shall live and have dominion over the land. For he foretold above, saying, "Increase, and multiply, and have dominion over the fishes," &c. But who is there that is now able to have this dominion over the wild beasts, or fishes, or fowls of the air? For you know that to rule is to have powerthat a man should be set over what he rules. But forasmuch as this we have not now, he tells us when we shall have it; namely, when we shall become perfect, that we may be made inheritors of the covenant of the Lord.
VII. Understand then, my beloved children, that the good God hath before manifested all things unto us, that we might know to whom we ought always to give thanks and praise. If, therefore, the Son of God, who is the Lord of all, and shall come to judge both the quick and the dead, hath suffered, that by his stripes we might live, let us believe that the Son of God could not have suffered but for us. But, being crucified, they gave him vinegar and gall to drink. Hear, therefore, how the priests of the temple did foreshow this also: The Lord, by his command which was written, declared, that whosoever did not fast the appointed fast he should die the death: because he also was himself one day to offer up his body for our sins; that so the type of what was done in Isaac 1 might be fulfilled, who was offered upon the altar. What, therefore, is it that he says by the prophet? "And let them eat of the goat which is offered in the day of the fast for ill their sins." Hearken diligently, [my brethren.] "And all the priests, and they only, shall eat the inwards, not washed with niegar. Why so? Because I know that when I shall hereafter offer my flesh for the sins of a new people, ye will give me vinegar to drink, mixed with gall; therefore do ye eat, the people fasting the while, and lamenting in sackcloth and ashes. And that he might foreshow that he was to suffer for them, hear then how be appointed it: "Take," says he, "two goats, fair and alike, and offer them; and let the high-priest take one of them for a burnt-offering." And what most be done with the other? "Let it," says be, "be accursed." Consider how exactly this appears to have been a type of Jesus. "And let all the congregation spit upon it, and prick it: and put the scarlet wool about its head: and thus let it be carried forth into the wilderness." And this being done, he that was appointed to convey the goat, led it into the wilderness, and took away the scarlet wool, and put it upon a thorn bush, whose young sprouts, when we find them in the field, we are wont to eat: so the fruit of that thorn only is sweet. And to what end was this ceremony? Considerone was offered upon the altar, the other was accursed. And why was that which was accursed, crowned? Because they shall see Christ in that day, having a scarlet garment about his body and shall say, Is not this he whom we crucified, having despised him, pierced him, mocked him? Certainly this is he who then said that he was the Son of God. As, therefore, he shall be then like to what he was on earth, so were the Jews heretofore commanded to take two goats, fair and equal. That when they shall see [our Saviour] hereafter coming [in the clouds of heaven,] they may be amazed at the likeness of the goats. Wherefore ye here again see a type of Jesus who was to suffer for us. But what then signifies this, That the wool was to be put into the midst of the thorns? 'This also is a figure of Jesus, set out to the church. For he who would take away the scarlet wool must undergo many difficulties, because that thorn was sharp, and with difficulty get it: so they, says Christ, that will see me, and come to my kingdom, must through many afflictions and troubles attain unto me.
VIII. But what type do ye suppose it to have been,
where it is commanded to the people of Israel, that grown persons, in whom sins are come
to perfection, should offer a heifer, and after they had killed it, should bum
the same: but then young men should take up the ashes and put them in vessels,
and tie a piece of scarlet wool and hyssop upon a stick, and so the young men
should sprinkle every one of the people, and they should be clear from their
sins? Consider how all these are delivered in a figure to us. This heifer is
Jesus Christ; the wicked men that were to offer it, are those sinners who
brought him to death; who afterwards have no more to do with it: the sinners
have no more the honour of handling of it; but the young men who performed the
sprinkling, signified those who preach to us the forgiveness of sins, and the
purification of the heart; to whom the Lord gave authority to preach his gospel: being at the beginning twelve, to signify the tribes, because there were
twelve tribes of Israel. But why were there three young men appointed to
sprinkle? To denote Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, because they were great
before God. And why was the wool put upon a stick? Because the kingdom of Jesus
was founded upon the cross; and therefore they that put their trust in him shall
live for ever. But why was the wool and hyssop put together? To signify that in
the kingdom of Christ there shall be evil and filthy days, in which, however, we
shall be saved; and
because he that has any disease in the flesh by some filthy humours, is cured
by hyssop. Wherefore these things being thus done, are to us indeed evident; but
to the Jews they are obscure, because they hearkened not unto the voice of the
IX. And therefore the Scripture again speaks concerning our ears, that God has circumcised them, together with our hearts. For thus saith the Lord by the holy prophet: "By the hearing of the ear they obeyed me." And again, "They who are afar off, shall hear and understand what things I have done." And again, "Circumcise your hearts, saith the Lord." And again he saith, "Hear, Israel! For thus saith the Lord thy God." And again the Spirit of God prophesieth, saying, "Who is there that would live for ever, let him hear the voice of my song." And again, "Hear, heaven, and give ear, earth! Because the Lord has spoken m these things for a witness." And again he saith, "Hear the word of the Lord, ye princes of the people." And again, "Hear, children! the voice of one crying in the wilderness." Wherefore he has circumcised our ears, that we should hear his word, and believe. But as for that circumcision in which the Jews trust, it is abolished. For the circumcision of which God spake was not of the flesh: but they have transgressed his commands, because the evil one hath deceived them. For thus God bespeaks them: "Thus saith the Lord your God, [Here I find the new law,] Sow not among thorns; but circumcise yourselves to the Lord your God." And what doth be mean by this saying? Hearken unto the Lord. And again he saith, "Circumcise the hardness of your hearts and harden not your neck." And again, "Behold, saith the Lord, all the nations are circumcised, [they have not lost their foreskin;] but this people is uncircumcised in heart." But you will say the Jews were circumcised for a sign, And so are all the Syrians, and Arabians, and all the idolatrous priests, but are they, therefore, of the covenant of Israel? And even the Egyptians themselves are circumcised. Understand, therefore, children, things more fully, that Abraham, who was the first that brought in circumcision, looking forward in the Spirit to Jesus, circumcised, having received the mystery of three letters. For the Scripture says that Abraham circumcised three hundred and eighteen men of his house. But what, therefore, was the mystery that was made known unto him? Mark, first, the eighteen, and next the three hundred. For the numeral letters of ten and eight are I H. And these denote Jesus. And because the cross was that by which we were to find grace, therefore he adds three hundred, the note of which is T [the figure of his cross.] Wherefore, by two letters, he signified Jesus; and by the third, his cross, he who has put the engrafted sign of his doctrine within us, knows that I never taught to any one a more certain truth: but I trust that ye are worthy of it.
X. But why did Moses say, "Ye shall not eat of the swine; neither
the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the crow; nor any fish that has not a scale upon him?"
I answer, that in the spiritual sense, he comprehended three doctrines that
were to be gathered from hence. Besides which he says. to them in the book
of Deuteronomy, "And I will give my statutes unto this people." Wherefore it
is not the command of God that they should not eat these things; but
Moses in the Spirit spake to them. Now the sow he forbad them to eat, meaning
thus much: Thou shalt not join thyself to such persons as are like unto swine;
who whilst they live in pleasure, forget their God, but when any want
pinches them, then they know the Lord; as the sow when she is full, knows her
when she is hungry, she kames a noise, and being again fed, is silent. "Neither," says he, shalt
thou eat the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the kite, nor the crow;" that is, Thou shalt not keep company with such kind of men as
know not how, by their labour and sweat, to get themselves food: but
injuriously ravish away the things of others, and watch how to lay snares for
them; when at the same time they appear to live in perfect innocence. [So
these birds alone seek no food for themselves, but] sitting idle, seek how they
may eat of the flesh which others have provided; being destructive through
their wickedness. "Neither," says he, "shalt thou eat the lamprey, nor the
polypus, nor the cuttle-fish;" that is, thou shalt not be like such men, by
using to converse with them, who are altogether wicked and adjudged to death.
For so those fishes are alone accursed, and wallow in the mire, nor swim as
other fishes, but tumble in the dirt, at the bottom of the deep. But he adds,
"Neither shalt thou eat of the hare." To what end? To signify this to us: Thou
shalt not be an adulterer;" nor liken thyself to such persons. For the hare
every year multiplies the places of its conception; and as many years as it
lives, so many it has. "Neither shalt thou eat of the hyaena;" that is,
again, be not an adulterer, nor a corrupter of others; neither be like to such.
And wherefore so? Because that creature every year changes its kind, and is
sometimes male and sometimes female. For which cause also he justly hated the
weasel; to the end that they should not be like such persons who with their
mouths commit wickedness, by reason of their uncleanness; nor join themselves
with those impure women, who with their mouths commit wickedness. Because
that animal conceives with its mouth." Moses, therefore, speaking as concerning
meats, delivered, indeed, three great precepts to them, in the spiritual
signification of those commands; but they, according to the desires of the
flesh, understood him as if he had only meant it of meats. And therefore David
took aright the knowledge of his threefold command, saying, in like manner, "Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly;" as the
fishes before mentioned, in the bottom of the deep, in darkness; nor stood in
the way of sinners, as they who seem to fear the Lord, but yet sin, as the sow.
And hath not sat in the seat of the scorners, as those birds who sit and watch
that they may devour. Here you have the law concerning meat perfectly set forth,
and according to the true knowledge of it. But says Moses, "Ye shall eat all
that divideth the hoof, and cheweth the cud;" signifying thereby such an one
as having taken his food, knows him that nourishesh him; and resting upon him,
rejoiceth in him. And in this he spake well, having respect to the commandment.
What therefore is it that he says, That we should hold fast to them that fear the Lordwith those who meditate on the command of the word which
they have received in
their heartwith those that declare the righteous judgments of the Lord, and
keep his commandments; in short, with those who know that to meditate is a work
of pleasure and therefore exercise themselves in the word of the Lord. But why might
they eat those that clave the hoof? Because the righteous liveth in this present world; but
his expectation is fixed upon the other. See, brethren, how admirably Moses commanded these things: how should we thus know all tins, and understand it; We, therefore,
understanding aright the command speak as the Lord would have us. Wherefore he has
circumcised our ears and our hearts, that we might know these things.
XI. Let us now inquire whether the Lord took care to manifest any thing beforehand concerning water and the cross? Now for the former of these, it is written to the people of Israel, how they shall not receive that baptism which belongs to forgiveness of sins; but shall institute another to themselves that cannot. For thus saith the prophet: "Be astonished, heaven! and let the earth tremble at it, because this people have done two great and wicked things: they left me, the fountain of living water, and have digged for themselves broken cisterns, that can hold no water. Is my holy mountain, Zion, a desolate wilderness? For ye shall be as a young bird when its nest is taken away." And again the prophet saith, "I will go before thee, and will make plain the mountains, and will break the gates of brass, and will snap in sunder the bars of iron; and will give thee dark, and hidden, and invisible treasures, that they may know that I am the Lord God." And again, "He shall dwell in the high den of the strong." And then what follows in the same prophet? "His water is faithful: ye shall see the King with glory, and your soul shall learn the fear of the Lord." And again he saith, in another prophet, he that does these things shall be like a tree planted by the currents of water, which shall give its fruit in its season. Its leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doth it shall prosper. As for the wicked it is not so with them; but they are as the dust which the wind scattered! from the the earth. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, neither the sinners in the conned of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, and the way of the ungodly shall perish." Consider how he has joined both the cross and the water together, for this he saith, Blessed are they who, putting their trust in the cross. descend into the water: for they shall have their reward in due time; then, saith he, will I give it to them. But as concerning the present time, he saith, their leaves shall not fall; meaning thereby that every word that shall go out of your mouth, shall, through faith and charity, be to the conversion and hope of many. In like manner does another prophet speak: "And the land of Jacob was the praise of all the earth;" a magnifying thereby the vessel of his spirit. And what follows? "And there was a river running on the right hand, and beautiful trees grew up by it; and he that shall eat of them shall live for ever." The signification of which is thisThat we go down into the water full of sins and pollutions, but come up again, bringing forth fruit; having in our hearts the fear and hope which is in Jesus, by the Spirit. "And whosoever shall eat of them shall live for ever;" that is, whosoever shall hearken to those who call them, and shall believe, shall live for ever.
XII. In like manner he determines concerning the cross of another prophet, saying, "And when shall these things be fulfilled?" The Lord answers, "When the tree that is fallen shall rise, and when blood shall drop down from the tree." Here you have again mention made, both of the cross, and of him that was to be crucified upon it. And yet, farther, he saith by Moses (when Israel was fighting with, and beaten by, a strange people; to the end that God might put them in mind how that for their sins they were delivered unto death;) yea the Holy Spirit put it into the heart of Moses, to represent both the sign of the cross, and of him that was to suffer; that so they might know that if they did not believe in him, they should be overcome for ever. Moses, therefore, piled up armour upon armour in the middle of a rising ground, and standing up high above all of them, stretched forth his arms; and so Israel again conquered. But no sooner did he let down his hands, but they were again slain. And why so? To the end they might know, that except they trust in Him they cannot be saved. And in another prophet he saith, "I have stretched out my hands all the day long to a people disobedient, and speaking against my righteous way." And again Moses makes a type of Jesus to show that- he was to die; and then that he, whom they thought to be dead, was to give life to others; in the type of those that fell in Israel. For God caused all sorts of serpents to bite them, and they died; forasmuch as by a serpent transgression began in Eve; that so he might convince them, that for their transgressions they shall be delivered into the pain of death. Moses then himself, who had commanded them, saying, "Ye shall not make to yourself any graven or molten image, to be your god," yet now did so himself, that he might represent to them the figure of the Lord. For he made a brazen serpent, and set it up on high, and called the people together by a proclamation; where, being come, they entreated Moses that he would make an atonement for them, and pray that they might be healed. Then Moses spake unto them, saying, when any one among you shall be bitten, "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;" and so the 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." Again, what says Moses to Jesus the son of Nun, when he gave that name unto him, as being a prophet, that all the people might hear him alone, because the Father did manifest all things concerning his Son Jesus, in Jesus, the son of Nun; and gave him that name when he sent him to spy out the land of Canaan; he said, "Take a book in thine hands and write what the Lord saith: forasmuch as Jesus, the son of God, shall in the last days cut off by the roots all the house of Amalech."' See here again Jesus, not the son of man, but the Son of God, made manifest in a type and in the flesh. But because it might hereafter be said that Christ was the Son of David; therefore David, fearing and well knowing the errors of the wicked, saith, "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool." And again Isaiah speaketh on this wise, "The Lord said unto Christ my Lord, I have laid hold (in his right hand, that the nations should obey before him, and I will break the strength of kings." Behold how both David and Isaiah call him Lord, and the Son of God.
Kill. But let us go yet farther, and inquire whether his people be the heir, or the former; and whether the covenant be with us, or with them. And first, as concerning the people, hear now what the Scripture saith. Isaac prayed for his wife Rebekah, because she was barren; and she conceived. Afterwards Rebekah went forth to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said unto her, "There are two nations in thy womb, and two people shall come from thy body; and the one shall have power over the other, and the greater shall serve the lesser. Understand here, who was Isaac, who Rebekah, and of whom it was foretold that this people should be greater than that. And in a prophecy, Jacob speaketh more clearly to his son Joseph, saying, Behold, the Lord hath not deprived me of seeing thy face; bring me thy sons that I may bless them." And he brought unto his father Manasseh and Ephraim, desiring that he should bless Manasseh, because he was the elder. Therefore Joseph brought him to the right hand of his father Jacob. But Jacob, by the Spirit, foresaw the figure of the people that was to come. And what saith the Scripture? "And Jacob crossed his hands, and put his right hand upon Ephraim, his second and the younger son, and blessed him." And Joseph said unto Jacob, "Put thy right hand upon the head of Manasseh, for he is my first-born son." And Jacob said unto Joseph, "I know it, my son, I know it; but the greater shall serve the lesser, though he also shall be blessed." Ye see of whom he appointed it, that they should be the first people, and heirs of the covenant. If therefore, God shall have yet farther taken notice of this by Abraham too, our understanding of it will then be perfectly established. What then saith the Scripture to Abraham, when he "believed; and it was imputed unto him for righteousness? Behold, I have made thee a father of the nations, which without circumcision believe in the Lord."
XIV. Let us, therefore, now inquire whether God has fulfilled the covenant, which he sware to our fathers that he would give the people? Yes, verily, He gave it: but they were not worthy to receive it, by reason of their sins. For thus saith the prophet: "And Moses continued fasting in Mount Sinai, to receive the covenant of the Lord with the people, forty days and forty nights." And he received of the Lord two tables, written with the finger of the Lord's hand in the Spirit. And Moses, when he had received them, brought them down, that he might deliver them to the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, "Moses, Moses, get thee down quickly, for the people which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt have done wickedly." And Moses understood that they had again set up a molten image; and he cast the two tables out of his hands; and the tables of the covenant of the Lord were broken. Moses, therefore, received them, but they were not worthy. Now, then, learn how we have received them: Moses, being a servant, took them; but the Lord himself has given them unto us, that we might be the people of his inheritance, having suffered for us. He was, therefore, made manifest, that they should fill up the measure of their sins, and that we, being made heirs by him, should receive the covenant of the Lord Jesus. And again the prophet saith, "Behold I have set thee for a light unto the Gentiles, to be the Saviour of all the ends of the earth, saith the Lord, the God who hath redeemed thee."' Who for that very end was prepared, that by his own appearing, be might redeem our hearts, already devoured by death, and delivered over to the irregularity of error, from darkness; and establish a covenant with us by this. For so it is written, that the Father commanded him, by delivering us from darkness, to prepare unto himself a holy people. Wherefore the prophet saith, "I the Lord thy God have called thee in righteousness, and I will take thee by thy Land, and will strengthen thee; and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles: to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house." Consider, therefore, from whence we have been redeemed. And again the prophet saith, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me: he bath sent me to preach glad tidings to the lowly; to heal the broken in heart; to preach remission to the captives, and sight unto the blind; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of restitution; to comfort all that mourn."
XV. Furthermore it is written concerning the sabbath, in the ten commandments which God spake in the Mount Sinai to Moses, face to face; "Sanctify the sabbath of the Lord with pure hands and a clean heart." And elsewhere he saith, "If thy children shall keep my sabbaths, then will I put my mercy upon them." And even in the beginning of the creation, he makes mention of the sabbath: "and God made in six days the works of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested the seventh day, and sanctified it." Consider, my children, what that signifies,he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this, 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 he himself testifieth, saying, "Behold this day shall be as a thousand years." Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is that he saith, "And he rested the seventh day?" He 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 he shall gloriously rest on that seventh day. He adds, lastly, "Thou shalt sanctity it with clean hands and a pure heart." Wherefore we are greatly deceived if we imagine that any one can now sanctify that day which God has made holy, without having a heart pure in all things. Behold, then fore, He will then truly it with blessed rest, when we (having received the righteous promise, when iniquity shall be no more, all things being renewed by the Lord), shall be able to sanctify it, being ourselves first made holy. 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 unto 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, he ascended into heaven.
XVI. It remains yet that I speak to you concerning the temple; how those miserable men being deceived, have put their trust in the house, and not in the God himself who made them; as if it were the habitation of God. For much after the same manner as the Gentiles, they consecrated him in the temple. But learn, therefore, how the Lord speaketh, rendering the temple vain: "Who has measured the heaven with a span, and the earth with his hand? Is it not I?" Thus saith the Lord, "Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What is the house that ye will build me? Or what is the place of my rest?" Know, therefore, that all their hope is vain. And again, he speaketh after this manner: "Behold, they that destroy this temple, even they shall again build it up." And so it came to pass; for through their wars it is now destroyed by their enemies; and the servants of their enemies build it up. Furthermore it has been made manifest, how both the city and the temple, and the people of Israel should be given up. For the Scripture saith, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Lord will deliver up the sheep of his pasture, and their fold, and their tower unto destruction." And it has come to pass as the Lord hath spoken. Let us inquire, therefore, whether there be any temple of God? Yes, there is; and that there, where himself declares that he would both make and perfect it. For it is written, "And it shall be, that as soon as the week shall be completed, the temple of the Lord shall be gloriously built in the name of the Lord." I find, therefore, that there is a temple. But how shall it be built in the name of the Lord? I will show you. Before that we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corruptible and feeble, as a temple truly built with hands. For it was a house full of idolatry, a house of devils: inasmuch as there was done in it whatsoever was contrary unto God. But it shall be built in the name of the Lord. Consider, how that the 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. But how does he dwell in us? The word of his faith, the calling of his promise, the wisdom of his righteous judgments, the commands of his doctrine. He himself prophesies within us: He himself dwelleth in us, and openeth to us, who were in bondage of death, the gate of our temple;' that is. the mouth of wisdom ; haying given repentance unto us; and, by this means, he has brought us to be an incorruptible temple. He therefore that desires to be saved looketh not unto the man, but unto him that dwelleth in him, and speaketfa by him; I struck with wonder, forasmuch as he never either heard him speaking such words out of his mouth, nor ever desired to hear them. This is that spiritual temple that is built unto the Lord.
XVII. And thus, I trust, I have declared to you as much, and
with as great simplicity as I could, those things which make for your salvation,
so as not to have omitted any thing that might be requisite thereunto. For
should I speak farther of the things that now are, and of those that are to
come, you would not yet understand them, seeing they lie in parables. This,
therefore, shall suffice as to these things.
XVIII. Let us now go on to the other kind of knowledge and doctrine. There are two ways of doctrine and power; the one of light, the other of darkness. But there is a great deal of difference between these two ways; for over one are appointed the angelsof God, the leaders of the way of light; over the other, the angels of Satan. And the one is the Lord from everlasting to everlasting; the other is the prince of the time of unrighteousness.
XIX. Now the way of light is this, if any one desires to attain to the place that is appointed for him, and will hasten thither by his works. And the knowledge that has been given to us for walking in it, is to this effect: Thou shalt love him that made thee. Thou shalt glorify him that hath redeemed thee from death. Thou shalt he simple in heart, and rich in the Spirit. Thou shalt not cleave to those that walk in the way of death. Thou shalt hate to do any thing that is not pleasing unto God. Thou shalt abhor all dissimulation. Thou shalt not neglect any of the Commands of the Lord. Thou shalt not exalt thyself, but shalt he humble. 'Thou shalt not take honour to thyself. Thou shall not enter into any wicked counsel against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not be over-confident in thy heart. Thou shalt not commit fornication nor adultery. Neither shalt thou corrupt thyself with mankind. Thou shalt not make use of the word of God to any impurity. "Thou shalt not accept any man's person, when thou reprovest any one's faults. Thou shalt he gentle. Thou shalt be quiet. Thou shalt tremble at the words which thou hast heard. Thou shalt not keep any hatred in thy heart against thy brother. Thou shalt not entertain any doubt whether it shall be or not. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain. Thou shalt love thy neighbour above thy own soul. Thou shalt not destroy thy conceptions before they are brought forth; nor kill them after they are born. Thou shalt not withdraw thy hand from thy son, or from thy daughter; but shalt teach them from their youth the fear of the Lord. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods; neither shalt thou be an extortioner. Neither shall thy heart be joined to proud men; but thou shalt be numbered among the righteous and the lowly. Whatever events shall happen unto thee, thou shall receive them as good. Thou shalt not be double-minded or double-tongued; for a double tongue is the snare of death. Thou shalt be subject unto the Lord, and to inferior masters as to the representatives of God, in fear and reverence. Thou shalt not be bitter in thy commands towards any of thy servants that trust in God; lest thou chance not to fear him who is over both; because he came not to call any with respect of persons; but whomsoever the Spirit had prepared. Thou shalt communicate to thy neighbour of all thou hast; thou shalt not call any thing thine own: for if ye partake in such things as are incorruptible, how much more should ye do it in those that are corruptible? Thou shalt not be forward to speak, for the mouth is the snare of death. Strive for thy soul with all thy might. Reach not out thine hand to receive, and withhold it not when thou shouldest give. Thou shalt love, as the apple of thine eye, every one that speaketh unto thee the word of the Lord. Call to thy remembrance, day and night, the future judgment. Thou shalt seek out every day the persons of the righteous; and both consider, and go about to exhort others by the word, and meditate how thou mayest save a soul. Thou shalt also labour with thy hands to give to the poor, that thy sins may be forgiven thee. Thou shalt not deliberate whether thou shouldest give; nor having given, murmur at it. Give to every one that asks; so shalt thou know who is the good warder of thy gifts. Keep what thou hast received; thou shalt neither add to it, nor take from it. Let the wicked be always thy aversion. Thou shalt judge righteous judgment. Thou shalt never cause divisions: but shalt make peace between those that are at variance, and bring them together. Thou shall confess thy sins; and not come to thy prayer with an evil conscience. This is the way of light.
XX. But the way of darkness is crooked, and full of cursing.
For it is the way of eternal death, with punishment, in which they that walk
meet those things that destroy their own souls. Such areidolatry,
confidence, pride of power, hypocrisy, double-mindedness, adultery, murder,
rapine, pride, transgression, deceit, malice, arrogance, witchcraft, covetousness, and the
want of the fear of God. In this walk those who are the persecutors of them that
are goodhaters of truth, lovers of lies; who know not the reward of
righteousness, nor cleave to any thing that is good; who administer not righteous
judgment to the widow and orphan; who watch for wickedness, and not for the
fear of the Lord: from whom gentleness and patience far off; who love vanity, and
follow after rewards; having no compassion upon the poor; nor take any pains
for such as are heavy laden and oppressed: ready to evil-speaking, not knowing
him that made them; murderers of children, corrupters of the creature of God,
that turn away from the needy, oppress the afflicted; are the advocates of the
rich, but unjust judges of the poor; being altogether sinners.
XXI. It is, therefore, fitting, that, learning the just commands of the Lord, which we have before mentioned, we should walk in them. For he who does such things shall be glorified in the kingdom of God. But he that chooses the other part shall be destroyed together with his works. For this cause, there shall be both a resurrection, and a retribution. I beseech those that are in high estate among you (if so be you will take the counsel which with a good intention I offer to you) you have those with you towards whom you may do good; do not for them. For the day is at hand in which all things shall be destroyed, together with the wicked one. The Lord is near, and his reward is with him. I beseech you, therefore, again and again, he as good lawgivers to one another: continue faithful counsellors to each other: remove from among you all hypocrisy. And may God, the Lord of all the world, give you wisdom, knowledge, counsel, and understanding of his judgments in patience! Be ye taught of God; seeking what it is the Lord requires of you, and doing it; that ye may be saved in the day of judgment. And if there be among you any remembrance of what is good, think of me; meditating upon these things, that both my desire and my watching for you may turn good account. I beseech you, I ask it as a favour of you, are in this beautiful tabernacle of the body, be wanting in none of these things; but without ceasing seek them, and fulfil every command: for these things are fitting and worthy to be done. Wherefore I have given the more diligence to write unto you, according to my ability, that you might rejoice. Farewell, children of love and peace. The Lord of glory, and of all grace, be with your spirit. Amen.
The end of the epistle of Barnabas, the apostle and fellow-traveller of St. Paul the apostle.