ページの画像
PDF
ePub

sense; yet is he so kind as to compliment David with some knowledge this way; for, he adds, though they understood Moses as only speaking of meats, yet, he says, David took the commands in relation to the three forts of animals (viz. fishes, beasts and birds) rightly; for he says, (Pfal. i.) Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, (i. e. as the fishes which are unclean, who go down in darkness to the deep ;) nor hath ftood in the way of finners, (i. e. as persons who seem to fear the Lord, but sin as the low does :) and hath not sat in the seat of scorners, (i. e. as those who sit and watch that they may devour.) Admirable reasoning indeed! Is this likely to proceed from one full of faith and the Holy Ghost, as Barnabas is said to be, Acts xi. 24?

5. Ch. XV. he proves the world shall last just fix thousand years, and no more, because God made the world in fix days, and rested the seventh.

The preceding instances are enough to prove the Epistle of Barnabas, to contain the most trifling and filly things. And can it be imagined, God would ever put his creatures under a necessity of believing things fo contrary to their best improved and informed judgments ? Or can such an author be fit to be a guide to us in matters of everlasting consequence? God forbid !

CHAP

CH A P. XLIII.

I

An Examination of what is said by Bishop Fell and the Arche

bishop of Canterbury, in Vindication of the Allegories of this Epistle : the Jews' Use of such, no Apology for this Author : our Saviour and his Apostles never used any such Allegories. AM not insensible that Bishop Fella and the present Arch

bishop of Canterbury have endeavoured to evade the force of this argument, by telling us," it was the custom of " the Jews at that time, the practice of the Apostles (Bishop « Fell adds, and of our Saviour too), and of the primitive « Christians in the ages next succeeding Barnabas, to interis

pret the Scripture after the same manner; and the last" named writer adds, that if any of Barnabas's seem to be far« fetched, either the very fame, or the traces and footsteps of “ them, are to be found in St. Paul's Epistles.” To which I answer.

1. That supposing all this to be true, the credit and authority of this Epistle must nevertheless sink, because his allegories and interpretations are groundless, false, and proceed from and upon mistakes.

2. That the custom of the Jews can be no apology for Barnabas. Their allegories, it is true, were as filly and trilling as his; but will it at all justify a person in a fault, that others were guilty as well as he? The merits of the cause are to be enquired into, and if it appear that the pretended Barnabas hath often trifled with and mistaken the Scripture (as I have above shewn), it will be nothing at all in his favour to say, the Jews were wont to do so too. The Jews dealt much in cabalism ; Barnabas did so too : is Barnabás therefore at all the better for that? The Jews prove by their Geometria (a species of theoretick cabalism), that Eliezer, the numeral letters of whose name make three hundred and eighteen, was

· Præfat. in Barnab.
+ Dissertation concerning the Epistle of Barnabas, chap. 7. §. 27.

taken

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

taken by Abraham to war, and that he beat his enemies with him alone ; which is directly contrary to the Scripture, which says, he took the three hundred and eighteen servants with him. Barnabas by a like cabalism finds, that Abraham knew of Christ and his cross by the number three hundred and eighteen, whom he circumcised; which is also, as I have proved, absolutely false. Is now the Jewish cabalism any apology for Barnabas's mistake? The same way it were easy to argue in the other instances.

3. It is said by Bishop Fell, that our Saviour himself used this way of reasoning and interpreting Scripture. But that Bishop would have done well to tell us where. Sure no man who has read the Gospels ever imagined there were such things in them, as I have above produced out of Barnabas; if there be, I desire the next patron of this Epistle to produce them for the good of mankind, who are in general ignorant of them. Our Saviour has indeed used parables; but every one must see how different thefe are from the forced, far-fetched interpretations of this author. But on the contrary, our Saviour was so far from any thing of this fort, that, if I mistake not, he has often inveighed against it. In how many places does he speak against their traditions, which were for the most part founded upon such myftical, mistaken applications and interpretations of Scripture ! He tells them, that in vain they worshipped him, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men; i. e. 1300 the explications which the Pharisees, and that body of the Jews who reckoned the traditions as good as Scripture, gave of it, and of which the Cabala was a considerable part.

4. It is farther urged, that the Apostle Paul, in his Canonical Epiples, affords many instances of this which is so much found fault with in Barnabas. Any one may find, says Bishop Fell b; and I might easily make appear from a multitude of pasages out of them, were it needful for me to enlarge myself on a point, which every one, who has read the Scriptures with any care, cannot choose but have observed, faith the Archbishop. I wilh either

a See Matth, xv. and xxiii. and Mar. vii. and Dr. Lightfoot's Hor. Hebr. in Matt, xv. 2.

b Loc. jam. cit.
• In the place last cited.

the

1

the Bishop or his Grace had made this appear by particular proof; as they have not, I shall think it fufficient to say, till the contrary is proved, that I could never discern in Paul's Epistles any thing like what is in Barnabas. There are, it is true, two or three allegories; but then they are natural, juft, and have all the perfections of an allegory in them ; whereas those in Barnabas are unnatural, harsh, strained, and, what is worst of all, have the misfortune to be false, and built upon false foundations.

5. Whereas it is urged, that the Christian writers of the ages fucceeding Barnabas (Origen for instance, and Clemens Alexandrinus) have made use of the very same method of interpreting Scripture; I answer, that it is indeed too true; they have done so, and done it to the great scandal of the Christian religion: their enemies derided and bantered them for it, as they justly might ; and, as Rivet well observes in the place above cited, they hurt the cause of Christianity by this means more than they were aware of. Hence came the clamour in all ages, of pious frauds and religious cheats. What could weaken the Christian religion more, than pretending to support it by such idle reasonings as are in this Epistle under the name of Barnabas ? What could do Christianity more injury, than to pretend to prove the truth of it by such predictions as this book contains, especially when as to many of them they were no where to be found, but were mere pious forgeries to ferve a purpose? Such as these in the writings of the Fathers, leffened the opinion which the men of fense among the Pagans had of our holy religion; as well as they certainly leffen the opinion now of these Fathers, in the minds of many of solid learning and good judgment. The forgery of the Sibylline oracles in favour of Christianity, is a thing owned now almost by every one ; fee Casaubon“, Daillé ", Dr. Cave, Spanheim, and others cited to this purpose in the former volume ®. And who now can vindicate those primitive Christians,

1

Adv. Baron. Annal. Exercit. I. Num. 18.

Right Use of the Fathers, c. 3. p. 18, 19.

c Hift. Liter. in Sibyll. p. 34.

Hist. Christ. Secul. II. g. 11. c. Part II. Ch. XXXIV.

b

who

[ocr errors]

who either forged them, or made use of them to delude their adversaries? Laudo propositum, consilium vehementer improbo, et toto pectore deteftor, says the great Casaubon a ; I approve their design, the method of effecting I dislike and abhor with all my soul. This learned writer thought it no virtue in the primitive Fathers, to make use of such methods as Barnabas to maintain Christianity. And it is well known that Celsus set Origen very hard to it for an answer, when he urges that the Christians had corrupted the books of the Sibyls, by inserting mang things in favour of Christianity into them b. See more to this purpose, Vol. I. Part II. Ch. XXXIV. p. 361. But after all, what apology can it be for Barnabas, that the Fathers fol. lowed him in his errors, and by this example were led into an unreasonable way of expounding Scripture? This, if the Epistle had been really written by Barnabas, would have been so far from extenuating, that it would have aggravated his crime. I conclude therefore, notwithstanding all these apa. logies, that this Epistle is both spurious and Apocryphal.

Arg. VII. The Epistle under the name of Barnabas is Apocryphal, because it is not in the Syriack Version, Prop, XV.

Upon the whole then I have endeavoured to prove, that the Epistle under the name of Barnabas was not written by him, but by some person who was originally a Pagan, who confeffies himself formerly to have been an unbeliever in the true God, and a worshipper of idol-Gods, who making continually a distinction between Jew and Gentile, constantly ranks himself among the latter, and who has none of the Hebraisms of the Hellenistick language; that the Epistle was wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem, and consequently after the true Barnabas was dead ; that it is Apocryphal, because it is not to be found in any of the ancient catalogues of the sacred books of the New Testament, not cited as Scripture in any of the writings of the primitive Fathers, but excluded from the Can

Loc.jam cit.

Orig. cont. Celf. lib. 7. p. 368, 369.

nom

« 前へ次へ »