Barnes, Albert Dd
Barnes, Albert D.D., one of the most prominent theologians of the Presbyterian Church, was born at Rome, N. Y., Dec. 1, 1798. He studied at Hamilton College with a view of becoming a lawyer, but the Christian experiences he had had there induced him to give up his fondly cherished plan for the work of the ministry; and upon graduating in 1820 he pursued a four years' course of theological study at Princeton, N. J. He was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Elizabethtown, April 23, 1823. His first pastorate was at Morristown, N. J., and in 1830 he accepted a call to the charge of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia, with which Church he retained official connection to the day of his death, Dec. 24, 1870.
Dr. Barnes was not only the friend of the rich, but also of the oppressed, especially of the slave, whose early, open, and faithful friend he was. "That native modesty which was so peculiarly a trait of his whole life never seemed to be in antagonism with the highest moral intrepidity. He thought, he spoke, he acted, from the sense of right which was so strong an element in his nature. Often in peril, and sometimes in actual experience, of implicating important personal relations, his sympathy with the oppressed never wavered or slumbered. His faith in the emancipation of the slave and the elevation of the colored people of the country, though often confessed to be dark respecting the process, was firm respecting the final event. As to his theological position, widely as men may have differed as to the soundness of some of his doctrinal statements and positions, they did not differ as to the purity of his motives and the guilelessness of his spirit. As he approached the close of his life, his own testimony was that "the objects of eternity became overpoweringly bright and grand." Yet he did not lose his interest in this world as the scene of the development of the great plans of God. He cherished to the last the cheerfullest views of the world, of the certain progress of the race, of the destiny of man.
At Philadelphia, Dr. Barnes prepared those works which made his name a household word wherever the English tongue is spoken. The first of these was his Notes Explanatory and Practical on the Gospels (Phila. 1832), designed for Sunday-school teachers and Bibleclasses, which soon attained a larger circulation, both in Europe and America, than any similar work. This was followed, in rapid succession, by Notes on the New Testament (11 vols.), on Job (2 vols.), on Isaiah (2 vols.), on Daniel, and on the Book of Psalms (N. Y. 1870, 3 vols.). By excessive literary labors, carried on chiefly by lamplight in the early morning, he nearly lost his sight. He also published, The Atonement in its Relations to Law and Moral Government (Phila. 1859): — Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity in the Nineteenth Century (N. Y. 1868): — Practical Sermons Designed for Vacant Congregations and Families (Phila. 1860): — The Way of Salvation (ibid. 1863), illustrated by a series of discourses: — Miscellaneous Essays and Reviews (N.Y. 1855, 2 vols.): — Prayers for the Use of Families (ibid. 1870), etc. See Lives of the Leaders of Our Church Universal (ibid.), p. 767 sq. (B. P.)