Albert Barnes, an American theologian, born at Rome, N. Y., Dec. 1, 1798, died in Philadelphia, Dec. 24, 1870. He graduated at Hamilton college in 1820, intending to become a lawyer; but considering it his duty to enter the ministry, he studied at the Princeton theological seminary, and in 1823 was licensed to preach. He officiated in various churches till 1830, when, being pastor of the Presbyterian church of Morristown, N. J., he was called to the first Presbyterian church of Philadelphia, in which charge he remained till 1867, when he resigned it in consequence of failing health and the almost total loss of his eyesight. Mr. Barnes was distinguished as an eloquent preacher and faithful pastor, and was the author of many books. He is best known by his " Notes " on various parts of the Scriptures, originally prepared as lectures to his own congregation. The book of Psalms was always a favorite study, and his notes upon this are highly esteemed (new ed., 3 vols. 12mo, New York, 1868-'9). He also published notes on Job, Isaiah, and Daniel. But his reputation as a commentator rests mainly upon his notes on the New Testament, comprising the Gospels, the Acts, and all the Epistles. They are especially adapted for the use of Sunday schools and Bible classes, and have been widely adopted in the United States and in Great Britain. No other works of this class have ever had so wide a circulation.
Several editions have been published, with slight emendations; and at his death he had completed a new revision, with additions, embodying the results of the latest researches. The publication of this edition was completed in 1872 (6 vols. 12mo, New York). During the discussions which led to the temporary disruption of the Presbyterian church, Mr. Barnes was arraigned on a charge of heresy, based mainly upon some passages in his "Notes on the Epistle to the Romans." He was acquitted, but was recommended to change a few expressions which were thought liable to misconstruction; this was done, but the alteration involved no substantial variations of opinion from his earlier form of expression. When the Presbyterian church was divided, he remained with the New School branch. The degree of D. D. was repeatedly conferred upon him, but was declined. Besides his work as pastor and commentator, Mr. Barnes took a firm though moderate part in the movement against slavery in America. He also wrote largely for periodicals, and published, besides the works mentioned, an excellent introductory essay to "Butler's Analogy," "Scriptural Views of Slavery," "The Way of Salvation," "The Atonement," "Claims of Episcopacy," "Church Manual," "Lectures on the Evidences of Christianity in the Nineteenth Century," "Prayersfor Family Worship," his "Defence" when on trial upon charge of heresy, several volumes of sermons, and a series of Sunday school question books.