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of which may be appreciated by all. If our Lord had really thus conspicuously pointed out Peter, to the notice of the other disciples, as the acknowledged head of his church, should we not have beheld him on every future occasion recognized as their chief, by his companions ? Instead of this, we do not find that in any single instance, he ever assumed such supremacy, or that it was ever offered him. Nay, so wholly unconscious do the disciples appear to have been of any such distinction, that we find them, to the very end of our Lord's residence among them, disputing “which of them should be greatest. upon which there could have been no . possible ground for dispute, if the sentence before us, as the Romanists explain it, had long before, and on the authority of Christ himself, for ever decided the question. I would only add upon this subject, a paraphrase of the

2 Luke ix. 46.

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verse under consideration, which may put it in a clear light to the English reader: 'I say unto thee, that I have rightly given unto thee, the name of Peter, which signifies a stone, for thou hast, by this confession, proved thyself a living stone in that foundation of my prophets and apostles, whereof I myself am the chief corner-stone, and the solid rock upon which my church shall be so surely built, that the powers of hell shall not prevail against it.'

Is it then true, my brethren, that there is a church of which not the apostle Peter, but the Lord Jesus Christ himself, is the everlasting foundation ; and has it pleased a merciful God, that your

lot should be cast in a land, where a living branch of that true church is planted ? Bless the Lord for this above all

your other mercies. Rejoice not that you are rich, or healthy, or powerful, but in this rejoice, that God has brought you within the blessed sounds of the

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gospel of life, and within the pale of that church, which his own right hand has planted. But while you thus rejoice, rejoice with trembling: great are your mercies, countless are your privileges, but be assured that fully in proportion also, is your responsibility. No church

. however pure, no outward ordinances however perfect, no services however scriptural, can of themselves ensure salvation. You will not be saved as a congregation, but as individuals. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, because it is built upon the rock of Christ, but they may, and unquestionably will be found, on the last day, to prevail against many

nominal members who have swelled the ranks, and filled the temples, of the purest church. The inquiry, then, for each is this : “ Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ;"3 has this foundation been deeply laid, by the Spirit of God, in


3 1 Cor. iii. 11.

my own soul ? have I been thus turned from death unto life? and am I now, walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit? If these things be so, then indeed may we affirm that you are a true member, of the true Church of the Redeemer; then we may say to you individually, what Christ has here declared of his church at large—“The gates of hell shall not prevail against” you : for it is to you that he speaks, when he says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”? 4

Our Lord having uttered his remarkable prophecy of the perpetuity of his church, thus continues to address himself to Peter—“ I will give unto thee soever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. “ To bind and to loose" were terms in common usage among the Jews, meaning simply to prohibit and to permit.” The authority therefore thus bestowed upon Peter, and the other apostles, alluded not to persons, but to doctrines ; it was the power to bind, or to prohibit, such things as might be detrimental to the interests of the infant church; and we find them afterwards using this power, for example, by binding or forbidding circumcision to the believers, and the eating of things offered to idols, of things strangled, and of blood : and the power to loose, was the power to allow their followers to continue the observance of these nonessentials, the prohibition of which might have wounded the tender consciences of the new converts : and we find an example of the apostles' use of this authority, by their allowing purification, although a remnant of the ceremonial

" the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and what

4 John x, 27, 28.

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