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the text is taken, had asked his disciples, saying,
66 Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” " And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am ? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” A confession of faith which, whether we consider the period at which it was made, or the great peculiarity and fulness of it, is the most remarkable, which the pages of inspiration have presented to us. It is, indeed, impossible to convey in our own language, without tautology, all the accurate precision of the original, which might have been thus literally rendered : “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the God, the living God;" marking most emphatically, that Peter not only believed, as eren a heathen centurion
could confess, that Jesus Christ was the “Son of God,” but that he was the only Son, of the only God of heaven and earth.
It was in reply to this confession, that " Jesus answered and said unto Peter, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Man may be powerful in imparting the knowledge of this world, which comes to ņought; man may impart the knowledge even of spiritual truth, but in imparting faith he is utterly powerless. This is the prerogative of the Divinity himself: " Flesh and blood” never shall and never can convey it: “ All thy children are taught of Thee,” says the prophet, and never can the seed of saving faith be sown in the heart, but by the power of God the Holy Ghost. Our Lord having therefore pronounced him blessed, who had received this precious gift, thus continued, “And I say also
, unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
It will be unnecessary for me to inform the generality of my hearers, that this is the remarkable declaration of our Lord, upon which the arrogant pretensions of the Church of Rome to supremacy, and infallibility, have been founded. It is here, according to her exposition of the passage in question, that our Lord appointed Peter his vicegerent upon earth, the acknowledged head of his church, and with ample power to bequeath, and to perpetuate this astonishing authority to his successors, throughout all ages, even unto the end of time. If our Lord had really, by these words, conferred any such remarkable authority or power upon Peter, it would still remain for the Romanist to demonstrate that this authority had descended
to the bishops of Rome, of whom, as an old writer has well remarked, " whether they are Peter's successors in place or no, is a question ; but that they are not his successors in the truths of Christianity, is past all question.” We, however, do not believe that the words of the text, were intended to convey any such supremacy even to Peter, but that when our Lord said, “ Upon this rock I will build my church,” he spoke not of Peter, but of the confession of faith, or rather the object of his confession, which Peter had just made. To this opinion one of the most eminent of the ancient fathers, St. Chrysostom, has added the full weight of his valuable testimony; for he expressly says,
Upon this rock, that is, upon the faith of his profession.” But not to enter too deeply into this inquiry, which would occupy, as it has indeed already done, volumes of controversy,
I would merely offer two of the many arguments by which this unjusti
fiable assumption of the church of Rome has been controverted. First, I would remind those of my hearers who consult the original language of the Scriptures of truth, that when our Lord says, “ Thou art Peter, or thou art a stone, he makes use of a masculine substantive, and one usually applied by the classical writers to a fragment of a rock, or such a stone as a man can lift. When he continues the sentence, “ and upon this rock,” he changes the word into a feminine noun, which is always employed by the classical writers to express the solid rock itself; and he continues to refer to this feminine noun throughout the sentence. A change of expression which, to say the least, would be extremely improbable, if our Lord were speaking of the same person, or the same thing throughout.
To those of my hearers with whom this argument cannot be expected to avail, I would address one, the weight