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claims, therefore, of his pretended successors, the great Bithops of Rome, are absurd and impious. They have no foundation in the scriptures, and produce very mischievous effects. But, waving the consideration of those errors, we should pray that all the preachers of the Gospel may obtain a measure of the fame grace, and manifeit the fame holy principles, by which St. Peter was influenced. So Thall no relpect to their intereft, reputation, or connections in life prevent them from promoting, to the uttermost, the cause of Christ and the enlargenent of his kingdom.
We observe Peter's constant attachment to his Mafter, and readiness to profess that regard. On one occasion, when he saw Jesus walking upon the terpestuous sea in the night, at first he was intimidated, as well as his companions; but afterward, hearing the gracious voice of his Lord, he cried out, “ Lord, if it be thou, bid one come unto thee on the water*. This address, evidently, proceeded from faith and love, and yet betrayed much forwardness and self-confidence. To check these wrong principles, by giving him a. painful proof of his weakness, which he was little aware of, Jesus permitted him to venture upon the deep.
We behold Peter, then, upheld by a divine power, treading on the boisterous waves, as on dry ground. But at length, when he attended to the violence of the wind, not retaining, as he should have done, his de. pendence on the Lord, his courage drooped, and his body began to sink. He expected nothing but immediate destruction, and exclaimed in great anguish, “ Lord, save me.” This occurrence, which was an awful presage of what he afterwards experienced, Thould have taught him more diffidence and meekness of spirit. Jesus immediately afforded him the necessary aslistance, caught him as he was on the point of being
* Matt. xiv. 2233•
overwhelmed, overwhelnied, and conducted him safely to the ship. At the same time he sharply reproved him for his un. belief, through which bis attempt had failed: “O! thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Alas! how often have we been frustrated in our good designs, on the very fame account! For a season, perhaps, we seemed as if we could trust the Lord; but, when we took off our eye from him, and thought of our dangerous situation, our fears prevailed, and, if Jesus had not rescued us, we must have utterly perihed.
On another occasion, when many disciples forfook the Saviour, and the Apostles themselves appeared ready to depart, Peter, with his usual fervour, professed his firm regard and unihaken resolution not to defert his Master * " Lord,” said he, "to whom shall we go?
. Thou hast the words of eternal life ; and we believe, and are sure, that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” This was indeed an evidence of the fincerity of his faith, and the warmth of his affection. With such views of the Saviour, we also shall adhere to him, and abhor the proposal of seeking any other refuge. If our souls are eitablished in a full persuafion, that he alone can give us peace and everlasting happiness, then we fhall be willing to persevere through every difficulty and danger in his fervice.
Jesus enquiring of his disciples, what opinions were formed concerning him, St. Peter stood forth, and made that noble confeffion, « Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God +." His Master, in reply, pronounced him truly blessed, as having obtained this clear knowledge and strong confidence, not by any peculiar discernment of his own, or information from others, not by any human abilities or affistance, but by the distinguishing grace of God and illumination of his Spirit. Jesus added, in very
* John vi. 66-69.
+ Matt. xvi, 13-19.
remarkable terms, that Peter, as his fignificant name implied, should be used as a “ Rock," and that on him, as one of its main supports, should be built the glorious edifice of the Church, which, however opposed by Satan and his agents, thould continue to rise, and stand firm and impregnable against the most violent assaults *. He declared further, that he should appoint this favoured Apostle to be a principal officer in the kingdom of grace, and deliver its keys into his hands, as an emblem of authority committed to him for the administration of its affairs. But, with whatever powers Peter was invested, he poffeffd them only in common with his brethren, as they also afterwards received a commission of the fame extent t. On no ground can the tyrannical usurpations of the Popes of Rome be justified, from the grant here given to Peter ; since they cannot prove their succession from him, or their right, in consequence of that boasted fucceflion, to absolve and to condemn, as they presume to do.
But, waving that unprofitable controversy, let us rejoice in the security of the Church under the care of Jesus. It will be opposed by strong and malicious adversaries : but He has engaged for its protection and continuance. Do we, as living stones, constitute a part of this spiritual building ? Then we shall firmly
* Some suppose, that Jesus intended to point out himself as the Rock; and it is allowed, that He is the only sure foundation, on which his Church can relt, i Cor. iii. II. Others understand, that the confefion of faith, which St. Peter here made, is the Rock referred to, since the prosperity and even the existence of the Church depend on the doctrines, included in that confeilion.
But the connection of the passage does not seem to be well preserved by either of those senses ; and the Author conceives, that there is no more impropriety in considering Peter as a support of the Church, than in repre. senting the Apostles and Prophets as the foundation, on which it is built, Eph. ii. 20. Rev. xxi. 14. Such an interpretation derogates not from the honour of Chrift; nor can it favour the popith notion of Peter's supremacy. +John XX. 23•
refift * Matt. xvi. 21.-23.
refift every attack. Can we adopt Peter's confeffion, with a full conviction of its truth? And is that conviction produced, in consequence of divine light communicated to the mind ? O how great the privilege and blessedness, thus to be acquainted with the character and salvation of Jesus !
Soon afterwards the Apostle received a sharp repre. hension. Perhaps, elated by these fingular declarations in his favour, and still entertaining ideas of a temporal kingdom, he could not bear to hear his Malter foretel the passion then approaching, and even dared to censure him on that account: he said, “ Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall not be unto thee *.” The address was in every respeći unsuitable: it expressed great ignorance and presumption ; and therefore he was rebuked for it with an unusual severity. Jesus perceived by what wrong affections his servant was actuated, and, it thould feem, he felt the fuggestion as a temptation to himself: he replied, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou favoureft not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Alas! how eafily may fuch, as are most exalted in grace, be turned aside by a depraved nature, and both speak and act under the influence of carnal principles, by which, in effect, they promote the purposes of Satan! Let us enquire, Do not we, like Peter, object to the cross, and, as if we had lost our spiritual taste, lay our plans for worldly advancement, through covetousness or ambition? Do we not shew, on some occasions at least, that we do not perfectly understand or comply with the humbling and self-denying scheme of the Gospel ? Ah! what are we then doing, but taking part with the Devil, and opposing the designs of Jesus?
St. Peter was not only a companion of Christ, together with the other Apostles, but numbered among his most intimate friends, and intrusted with the most unreserved communications of his mind and counsel. He was one of the favoured three, who saw the Saviour transfigured on the mount; when he, in particular, expressed a rapturous delight in the vision and the society there afsembled. He cried out in his ecftasy, “Lord, it is good for us to be here : if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles, one for thee, and one for Mores, and one for Elias*.” This honour he never forgot: many years afterward, and not long before his death, he attested the fact, and insisted on it as a convincing proof, that he had not followed cunningly devised fables +." We do not look for such revelations of Christ: but his people still enjoy his fpiritual presence, and by faith behold his glory. At those distinguished seasons, when taken up with him to the mount, they feel a pleasure, which is unutterable, and wish to have no more to do with terrestrial concerns. Their language then is, “Lord, it is good for us to be here !"
When certain collectors applied for the accustomed. tribute, Peter readily agreed to pay their demand, and, by his Lord's directions, caught the fish, which furnished the money for that purpose I. In one place, he proposed the question, how often he should forgive an offending brother §. In another, after receiving a solemn admonition concerning the danger of riches, he declared, that he had forsaken all from an attachment to his Master, and expressed a hope of obtaining a recompense ll. His professions of regard were fincere, yet we discover in them some degree of self-confidence and carnal expectations.
We omit various circumstances of a less interesting nature, in which his name is introduced; observing only, that, throughout the whole history, he stands
* Matt, xvii. I-8. + 2 Pet. i. 16-18.
* Matt. xvii. 24–27. § Matt. xviii. 21. |xix. 27 L 6