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his supremacy !! After the Holy Spirit had been received, he first proclaims the gospel, does the first miracle, first begins to preach to the Gentiles! And for Peter prayer was made without intermission by the church : and why? Because Peter was in prison. . If any other apostle had been there, they would have wrestled with the Lord in his behalf just as they prayed for Peter's deliverance. This beloved apostle was naturally ardent and impetuous; Christ had loved him much and forgiven him much, and this was enough to make him bolder than his brethren, who had never denied the Lord as he had done. But now, if these reasons constilute an argument for Peter's supremacy, we may adduce others which will make John a riyal candidate.
1. John was the only disciple who leaned on Jesus' breast at the last
3. “ Peter beckoned to him that he should ask who it should be” that should betray the Lord.
4. John alone, of all the apostles, is said to have died a natural death, and he survived all his apostolic brethren. Thus, too, we might prove the supremacy of Paul and James by facts peculiar to their history: but we have neither time nor space to imitate the trifling of Romish Theologians.
The text upon which Papists place their main dependence is that which is so elaborately discussed in the preceding sections : “ Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” They appear to lay almost as much stress upon these words as upon the declaration of Christ at the institution of the Lord's Supper_" This is my body.” If the words, “ Thou art Peter,” &c., are to be understood at all figuratively, they tell us that the metaphor of which Christ makes use is realized in the person of Peter. He, personally, is the rock. We may, therefore, adopting the very principles of interpretation by which they seek to vindicate the strange doctrine of transubstantiation, require them to prove that Peter was literally and truly a bona fide rock, and that the Church of Christ was built upon the body and blood, bones and sinews of the good apostle. “ Thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my church ;" most unquestiona. bly, this interpretation will find readier belief than that Christ gave his own body and blood, soul and divinity to the faithful to be eaten to the end of time. The explanation to which Peter Dens alludes, and which he professes to refute, is briefly this. In the preceding verses, Christ asks his disciples, “Whom say ye that I am ?” Peter replies, “ Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God.” This good confession Christ calls the rock upon which his Church should be built, alluding at the same time to the signification of Peter's name. He could not have intended that Peter should be literally and truly the foundation of his Church, because we are expressly told, “ Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus." If Christ is the foundation of his Church, and Peter is the foundation also, then there are two foundations to the same building; but this cannot be. As to the distinction which Peter Dens makes in noticing this objection, between the primary and secondary foundation, when we find it in the Scriptures we will cheerfully endorse it. It is remarkable that not a single passage is adduced from any one of the primitive fathers to sustain the Romish interpretation of the passage in question ; Augustine declares in so many words, when commenting on this text, “For it was not said to him, thou art a rock, but thou art Peter : but the rock was Christ.”
The apology which is offered for Augustine is creditable neither to the Saint nor to the person who offers it. According to Peter Dens, Augustine equivocated somewhat, in or. der to prevent the Donatists from retorting unpleasantly! The testimony of the fathers, however, must always be considered of secondary importance; the best means of ascertaining the sense of Scripture is to collate one passage with another, after examining the scope of the writer.
But, “the keys were given to Peter.” So they were, and Peter used them by opening the door of the gospel on the great day of Pentecost, when the first fruits of the Spirit were manifested in the conversion of three thousand souls. When the pope becomes a preacher of the gospel of Christ, and employs himself in laying the foundations of churches by his personal ministry, we will acknowledge his claim to be Peter's successor as more valid than it is at present. II. The second point, which Papists must prove, is that Peter was bishop of Rome.
1. If Peter really held this office by the tenure and for the purpose,
for which the church of Rome contends, then it certainly ought to be considered as an article of faith, and as such it would have been distinctly taught and enjoined in the word of God. But the Scriptures are entirely silent on this subject.
2. The utmost that can be said in favour of Peter's hay. ing resided at Rome, is that it is probable, and even this can scarcely be admitted as proved. But in a case of this kind the utmost certainty is requisite. Peter dates his Epistle from Babylon. Some suppose that this was the Babylon in Assyria ; others understand it as a figurative name of Rome; and whatever reason there may be for supposing the latter interpretation to be correct, we may rest assured that Romish writers would, of all persons, be farthest from pleading that Babylon is used figuratively for Rome, were it not that they are sorely pressed for evidence to sustain a darling hy. pothesis ; for by this admission, the Babylon of the Apocalypse must likewise be understood as designating Rome. Luke, who wrote the travels of the apostles Paul and Peter, takes no notice of Peter's going there. And when the former apostle writes to the Romans, and sends greeting to about forty by name, he says nothing of Peter, whom he would scarcely have forgotten, if he had been the Pope's prototype; so too when Paul writes from Rome, he says not a word of Peter. He even complains when writing from that city to the Philippians, (ii. 20.,) that “all sought their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's ;” and when addressing the Colossians, (iv. 11.), he names a few, who “ were his only fellow helpers there.” Writing to Timothy from the same city, 2 Tim. iv. 16., he declares that “at bis first answer all men forsook him.” Now Peter would surely have proved himself a true yoke-fellow, had he then been bishop of Rome. Indeed, the very nature of Peter's apostolic office constrained him to go from place to place, to preach the gospel, and it will hardly be asserted even by Papists that the pretended chief of the apostles would act contrary to his commission, and take upon him the charge of a church in any particular city, which would necessarily require such a residence there as was inconsistent with his duties as an apostle. Besides, how could he, who was the apostle of the Jews, take upon him the charge of a Gentile Church? And supposing that he was bishop of a church of Jewish converts, Peter must have been strangely negligent of his charge to have been absent from them for so many years, and never write to the Romans as Paul did to establish their faith, and not even mention them in his Epistles.
Such is the silence of Scripture relative to Peter's residence at Rome, and such the obscurity of primitive antiquity about it, that whilst we will not affirm that he never was in that city, it is highly improbable that he lived there so soon after the death of Christ, and for so long a period as Papists would have us believe. There is not a particle of positive proof extant to show that Peter was ever bishop of Rome, whilst there is abundant evidence of the contrary. The third point, whether the Popes are Peter's successors, we reserve until the close of the following sections.
Concerning the successor of Peter in the Primacy. (92.) “Did any one succeed Peter in the primacy of the church?
“ The affirmative is a matter of faith, and is proved in this way: Christ the Lord instituted the church, so that it should endure to the end of time; therefore, he must have instituted in it a perpetual form of government; and thus at the death of Peter another must, by divine appointment, succeed, who should be the visible head of the church, and Christ's Vicar.
“Besides, Peter was appointed the foundation of a church that was to endure perpetually: therefore, the foundation should be perpetual ; the keys also and the government must continue, whilst the kingdom endures; a pastor and ruler are necessary for the sheep; therefore the primacy of Peter must continue whilst the church continues.
“Nor is it any objection that S. Gregory the Great, Bk.5. Epist. 20—alias 32, condemns the name of universal bishop, saying that it is a blasphemous name. For St. Gregory means that it is blasphemous in this sense, as though one man were bishop of the whole church, and the rest were not true bishops of their own churches; and hence, Bk. 7. Epist. 79, he speaks thus : If one man is universal (bishop), it remains that you cannot be bishops.' Otherwise, if by the universal bishop, you understand the Supreme Head, even of Bishops, you will properly call the successor of Peter, universal Bishop
“It is to be observed, however, that St. Gregory lays great stress upon the novelty of this name, principally because the Constantinopolitan bishop arrogantly usurped to himself the name of universal bishop, to whom it certainly by no means pertained.
" Who is this successor of Peter?
“ It is a matter of faith that he is the Roman Pontiff. It is proved from the unwavering decree of general councils and of the church, and from the doctrine of the Holy Fathers;