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“For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of faith;
and much people was added to the Lord.” Acts xi, 24. This is an inspired testimonial to the character of one of the most efficient members of the early Christian church. There must have been something remarkable in the piety of Barnabas to have called it forth. The Scriptures do not deal in the language of eulogy. They faithfully record the failings of good men as well as their virtues. What modern biographer would transmit to posterity such an impartial history of the subject of his memoir, (when that subject was a personal friend, and of kindred views and feelings,) as that which the sacred historians give us of David and Peter?-telling the unvarnished story of their crimes, and simply adding that they repented, and leaving the reader to form his own estimate of their character. This fidelity of Scriptural biography warrants the belief, that whatever is commended in the character of its subjects was truly worthy of commendation ; that its praise is as just as its censure. When therefore we are told that Barnabas was a good man, we feel that he must have been eminent for goodness to have received such a testimonial. For observe how naturally it is introduced ! Luke is not writing a biography of Barnabas. He is not professedly holding up his character for imitation. He is simply recording his visit to Antioch, when he was commissioned by the church at Jerusalem to go to that city and labor in the mighty work of grace which the Lord had there begun. He tells us of the joy which Barnabas felt at witnessing the outpouring of the spirit at Antioch—of the zeal with which he engaged in the work, and of the great success which crowned his labors. It is in this connection, that he alludes in a word, to the character of Barnabas. “Who, when he came and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave to the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith ; and much people was added to the Lord.”
* The funeral of Mr. Dwight took place on Saturday, June 15th, at 4, P. M., and drew together a large concourse of the most respectable citizens of New Haven. Four clergymen were present, who at different times had sustained toward him the pastoral relation; two of whom participated in the funeral ser. vices. On the next day, the following discourse was preached to a crowded assembly, in the house where the deceased had been accustomed to worship. It is now given to the public, at the request of the Chapel Street Church. There is an occasional repetition in the Sermon, of something already said in the Me. moir ; but this seemed unavoidable, as the expression of the
This simple tribute to the memory of a faithful servant of Christ, (for the narrative was probably written after his decease,) is far more valuable than the high-toned eulogies so often chronicled on marble in letters of gold. Who would not rather have it said of him, if such were the testimony which God approved, that he was “a good man,” that he was “ full of the Holy Ghost and of faith," and that through his instrumentality many were turned to the Lord, than that he reached the pinnacle of human greatness, made the proudest discoveries in science, or wrought the mightiest achievements of conquerors or kings?
What then was it in Barnabas which elicited this commendation? What is it to be a good man? I shall not here enter into an analysis of holiness. Instead of attempting to show that it consists in entire devotedness of heart to God, in distinction from an outward conformity to his will,-in .a predominant state of benevolence toward God and man,-I shall endeavor to exhibit it in action, to show you what it was in Barnabas, as a living operative principle. Though the details of his life are scanty, enough remain to furnish us with the leading characteristics of a good man.
The first mention which is made of Barnabas is in Acts iv: 36, 37. He is there introduced to us as one of the early converts to Christianity. Though a Jew by birth, and of the tribe of Levi, he was a native of the island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean, near Cilicia, the birth-place of Paul. He had come up to Jerusalem to attend the feast of Pentecost; and had probably been converted on the occasion of the remarkable outpouring of the Spirit at the commencement of that festival, or during that extensive work of grace which followed it. We are told that his name was Joses or Joseph, and that the Apostles gave him the surname Barnabas to be significant of his character. Most Scriptural names have some such significance. Thus Simon was called Peter or Cephas, which means a rock; James and John were surnamed Boanerges, the sons of thunder. The name Barnabas, which is here interpreted" the son of consolation,” means more properly the son of prophecy, exhortation or entreaty; implying that he early distinguished himself by his zeal in exhorting others to embrace Christianity-a distinction which he ever afterwards maintained. The occasion of his being mentioned is itself an index of his character. The historian is recording the liberality of those Christians who had property, in disposing of it for the common benefit. He tells us, that “ the multitude of them that believed were of one heart, and of one'soul ; neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. Neither was there any among them that lacked ; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the Apostles'
feet; and distribution was made to every man according to his need." Amid this general liberality, however, that of Barnabas was conspicuous. Luke thought it deserving of special notice, either on account of the largeness of the gift, or of the spirit which it exhibited in one who was afterwards a prominent preacher of the Gospel. “ Joses, who by the Apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, the son of consolation) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the Apostles' feet."
Here then we have one characteristic of this good man. He was a liberal man; forward to do good with his property ; and especially mindful of his poorer brethren. He was benevolent on a large scale ; eager to do all the good in his power. He sold his land, and put the avails of it at the complete disposal of the Apostles, for the benefit of those who were in
No less conspicuous in this incident, was his entire consecration to Christ. He made this sacrifice of property, not for the sake of ostentation ; not to gain a reputation for benevolence, but from sincere love to the Redeemer and his cause. This is apparent from the fact, that his offering is put in contrast with that of Ananias and Sapphira. They wished to have the appearance of benevolence without the reality; and to gratify their pride without much expense to their covetousness. Hence they attempted to impose upon