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“ which I stir up your pure minds by way
of remembrance.” The authenticity of the first Epistle is also settled beyond all dispute by another circumstance. pears that at a very early era of Christianity a question sprung up to whom in particular it was addressed, no doubt being entertained by those who were then competent to ascertain the fact but that the Apostle St. Peter was the writer.
The following is the address which was the matter of inquiry : “ Peter, an apostle “ of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered
throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia,
Asia, and Bithynia :." It was then agreed that by the word strangers was meant all the Jews scattered throughout those regions who had become converts to Christianity k Nor has this decision been disturbed till more recent times, when it has been contended that Gentile converts, or that both the Jewish and Gentile converts, were comprised in the address.
i 1 Pet. i. 1. * Euseb. Ecclesiastical History, lib. iii. c. 4.
From briefly prosecuting this inquiry at present you will perceive how admirably the epistolary parts of the New Testament fill up, elucidate, and confirm the historical books, in the same manner as the whole body of the New Testament consummates and perfects the Old; and the more we examine these extraordinary writings, the more we shall be convinced that we possess in them a system of religion at once exact in its details and comprehensive in its plan, firm, coherent, and consistent. It
appears, then, to have been accordant with the prejudices of St. Peter, as well as within the prescribed line of his apostleship, to address first the Jewish converts.
he that wrought effectually in Peter to “ the apostleship of the circumcision, the
same was mighty in me,” says St. Paul,
toward the Gentiles!” St. Peter also appeals to those documents with which Jews only were conversant-prophecy and tradition. “Receiving,” says he, “the end of your
faith, even the salvation of your souls; of
I Gal. ij. 8.
“ which salvation the prophets have in
quired, and searched diligently, who pro
phesied of the grace that should come “ unto you"."
Had the man who wrote this, or had he not, I ask, associated with the divine Person, who in the Gospel of St. Matthew is reported to have thus expressed himself: "For
verily I say unto you, that many prophets " and righteous men have desired to see “ those things which ye see, and have not
seen them, and to hear those things which
ye hear, and have not heard them "?" Again, in the historical works of the New Testament we find our Saviour thus speaking on the subject of Jewish traditions: “ In vain do they worship me,
teaching for doctrines the commandments “ of men : for, laying aside the command
ment of God, ye hold the tradition of “ meno.” And in this Epistle of St. Peter we read the following passage : “Forasmuch
as ye know that ye were not redeemed
m 1 Pet. i. 9, 10.
n St. Matt. xiii. 17. • St. Mark vii. 7, 8.
" with corruptible things, as silver and gold,
from your vain conversation received by “ tradition from your fathers, but with the
precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb “ without blemish and without spot .” I think it clear, therefore, that the Jewish converts were the persons particularly addressed, but addressed in terms which equally interest the Christians of every age and nation, as the ten commandments, which were first given to the Jews, are equally binding on all Christian people.
I touch but one point more contained in this Epistle: “ The Church that is at Babylon, “ elected together with you, saluteth you”. " It is contended by the adherents of papal supremacy, that as ancient Babylon was then a ruin, some other great and idolatrous city, which the writer dared not name, must have been meant; Rome, for example: therefore we have Scripture authority at least for Peter's presence at Rome. No, we answer; the whole is invention and supposition, without reason or probability. Is it credible that the writer would have introduced so unimportant a circumstance as a mere Christian salutation, and have shrouded it in fiction, danger being consequent on the declaration of the open truth ? St. Paul has no such fear. He, when writing from Rome to the Philippians, says: " the saints salute you, chiefly they that are “ of Cæsar's household.” Nor was either the Asiatic Babylon so desolate at the time of the Apostles as to be without inhabitants, and more particularly Jewish converts, or the Asiatic Babylon the only town of that name from whence St. Peter might have written his Epistle.
p 1 Pet. i. 18, 19.
4 1 Pet. v. 13.
r Phil. iv. 22.
For the Egyptian Babylon, see Ptol. Lib. iv. and Strabo, Lib. xvii. Pliny, and Stephanus Byzantinus. The Asiatic Babylon might have possessed a considerable population according to the account of Strabo. It declined after the building of Seleucia, and the latter became the chief city; so that to the ancient Babylon might be applied the words of a comic poet, spoken of Megalopolis in Arcadia :
'Ερημία μεγάλη εστίν η Μεγάλη πόλις *. But Josephus speaks of the Asiatic Babylon as containing
* Strabo, Lib. xvi. p. 738. sub fin.