From “St. Barnabas – Christian Kindliness and Charity,” Plain Sermons from Contributors to the ‘Tracts for the Times’ (1841)
Such, then, was the eminent saint whom our Church would this day call to our minds, whom Jesus Christ chose, out of the order, as it were, to be, with St. Paul, the apostle of us Gentiles: in one thing conspicuous, of one grace the human exemplar among his brethren, but throughout in harmony, in nothing jarring, or resisting the pervading influence of that Holy Spirit, which filled him wholly, and attuned every thought in its whole compass to the blissful sympathies of heaven.
Firm and self-denying, yet compassionate to the infirm; meek and gentle, yet “delivering over his life unto death,” (as the apostles bore witness,) for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; charitable, so as to command apostolic respect, and bring down the praise of God, at once delivering over all he had, not claiming even the distribution of it, seeking neither power nor influence, but taking contentedly the lower place, and through the long succession of years maintaining himself with an unpretending simplicity; with outward advantages of person and of the learning of the priestly tribe, yet in godly sincerity setting others higher than himself; yea he had, concentrated in himself, all those natural advantages which men boast of, that outward appearance which once deceived even the eye of Samuel, wealth, learning, winning character, high expectations, noble descent, (i.e., descent from that tribe whose privilege of being near the Lord, the great of the world then thought higher than their own,) yet all, descent, popularity, wealth, learning, reputation, outward show, he held as nothing, followed implicitly our Lord’s command, “Whosoever shall be great among you shall be your minister;” consecrated or gave up all to God, and so received all back from God, the praise of God which he sought, and the praise of men which he sought not; and humbling himself he was exalted, and how much more shall he be exalted at the Great Day!
Say I this as if I would herein praise St. Barnabas? Oh no! What have we to do with praising saints and martyrs of apostolic days, who, at our best estate, are so unlike them? What have we to do with praising, as from ourselves, those whose praise God has sealed? Our safest praise is (as our Church this day doth for us) reverently to repeat what Scripture says of them. Our safest praise, said I? No, for ourselves, our safest praise would be to awake, to arouse ourselves, to be following his steps, to praise him by actions conformable to his, to realize his life again on earth, to be in our measure St. Barnabas;’ so shall his praise, and the praise of God in him, be the more multiplied, when many, like him, shall add to their faith manly courage, and to manly courage knowledge, and to knowledge self-restraint, and to self-restraint enduringness, and to enduringness godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity, and so be — what? perfect saints? no — but “neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ;” when many, like him, shall hear their Savior’s voice, “Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, take up thy cross, and follow me.”
Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800-1882) was a priest who served as Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford for more than fifty years. He was among the primary leaders of the Oxford Movement, Anglicanism’s Catholic revival. He wrote several of the Tracts of the Times, and sacramental confession and religious sisterhoods were restored in the Church of England through his influence. His sermon for the Feast of St. Barnabas was part of a volume prepared by the writers of the Tracts to encourage the reverent observance of holy days. He is commemorated on September 18 on the liturgical calendars of several Anglican churches.