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charged them to use every effort for the conversion of the people of England to the faith of the Romish communion. It is for this reason that you ought to be well instructed as to what are the errors of Popery, and why they are errors. We will therefore see how many answers we can give to the question, Why ought we not to join the church of Rome ?
I. BECAUSE, AS TO ITS FOUNDATION, IT IS AN
The Papists teach that Peter was honoured by our Lord above the rest of the apostles, by being made a foundation on which His church should rest ; that he afterwards became bishop of Rome; and that he has left to his successors, the popes, supreme power over the universal church. On these two last assertions we need not dwell. It is doubtful whether Peter ever was at Rome ; it is more doubtful still whether he was ever bishop of the Christians at Rome; and it is most doubtful of all whether his suc. cessors would necessarily inherit all the powers and privileges which he possessed. But we may pass over all these, in order to examine into the truth of what is affirmed concerning Peter himself; for if we can disprove that statement, we thereby disprove the others that result from it None can inherit from him what he himself never possessed.
The passage which the Romanists adduce to support their doctrine occurs in Matt. xvi. 18, 19; “ Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” etc. The question then arises, who or what is meant by the rock on which the church was to be built ?
1. Is it likely to have been Peter ? Here was the Divine Son, the Wisdom of the Father, choosing as a Master builder a foundation for his church. That church he knew was to be sorely tried ; and therefore, like the wise man he had bimself described, Matt. vii., 24, 25, he was careful to found it on a rock, that it might not fall. Now, if he had fixed on Peter, could you easily be persuaded that the selection was wisely made? Do you think Peter's firmness was such that the church founded on him was sure to withstand all the assaults of temptation ? Ah, no; the next words that are recorded as having passed his
lips contained a mistake so grievous that Jesus had to respond with the sharp reproof, “ Get thee behind me, Satan.” And ere many months had elapsed, we find it needed not “the gates of hell,” but only the passing question of a servant maid, so far to “prevail against ” him that he denied his Lord, and that with oaths and curses. Nor did even this lesson wholly suffice to uproot his fear of man; once again it gained the mastery over him, and having betrayed him into the sin of dissimulation, drew down on him a merited rebuke from the more dauntless, if not more enlightened, apostle Paul, Gal. ii. 11-14. We ask,
2. Did Peter assume, or the other disciples grant to him, any precedence in consequence of this declaration ? By no means ; for we find in the Gospels that they afterwards had more than once a strife as to which was “ the greatest,” Matt. xviii. 1; Luke xxii. 24. Neither does the book of Acts ascribe to this apostle any superiority of rank. When messengers were appointed to go to Samaria, the apostles sent Peter and John, and they were both obedient to the mandate, Acts viii. 14. When Peter had first ventured to preach to Gentiles,
fellow-apostles ceand "held their tisfactory
his fellow-apostles called him to account for what he had done, and “held their peace" only because he was able to give satisfactory reasons for his conduct, Acts xi. 2-18. When a council was called at Jerusalem, Peter did not speak till “ there had been much disputing;” and then it was James whose final sentence brought the matter to a decision, Acts xv. 7-22. Equally clear is the teaching of the Epistles. Paul did not consider himself inferior to any apostle, 2 Cor. xi. 5. In summing up the offices which Christ had instituted for the formation and edification of the church, he assigns no supremacy to Peter, Eph. iv. 11. And, after blaming the Corinthians for their party spirit, as evinced in saying, “I am of Paul ; and I of Apollos ; and I of Cephas ; and I of Christ,” he goes on to give them this exhortation, “ Therefore let no man glory in men: for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas," 1 Cor. i. 12, and iï. 21, 22. Turn likewise to Peter's own Epistle, and you will see that when he is exhorting the elders not to make themselves “ lords over God's heritage,” far from claiming such superiority as his own peculiar right, he styles himself “also an elder," 1 Pet. v. 1-3. But,
3. We may ask further, What is the apostolic teaching as to the foundation on which the church is reared ? Paul tells us, that “other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ," I Cor. iii. 11; a statement that explains what he says in Eph. ii. 20,“ Ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets,” that is, upon the foundation which the apostles and prophets have declared or made known; and to make it yet clearer, he adds, “ Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone,” compare Isa. xxviii. 16. Still stronger will be our argument now that we come to cite the testimony of Peter himself. Hear what he says in presence of the Sanhedrim, with respect to “ Jesus of Nazareth,” 6. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner: neither is there salvation in any other,” Acts iv. 10-12. Read also what he says in his Epistle, “ If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone,-ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house," etc., 1 Pet. ii. 3-8.