« ZurückWeiter »
The unity of the Church, according to Popish theologians, rests on the primacy of St. Peter, and this primacy on the disputed passage, “ Eù ło Πέτρος, και επί ταύτη τη πέτρα οικοδομήσω με την Ezrausią.' Whether our Lord argues from the name to the meaning of the name, or to the confession of the apostle, we discern nothing to favour the hypothesis of the Church of Rome. The words convey no primacy of jurisdiction. The inspired evangelist employs language, which cannot be misunderstood, except by those who will not be taught by Scripture, but twist Scripture into tortuous mazes of their own hypothesis. Had the passage been “ÉTÈ TÍTW TW TÉTOW,” there might have been an ambiguity, whether Peter was meant, or that faith in Christ, as the Son of the living God, which had procured for St. Peter, the illustrious title of “Témpos"
The word “ Tetpos,” in its highest figurative sense of a stone, when applied to Peter, can represent only one true believer, or faithful member of Christ's Church ; one out of the true multitudes of believers in Christ; who, as figurative stones, form altogether the glorious spiritual building of Christ's Church, and not the foundation on which that Church is built, because the figurative cannot, consistently with truth, be applied to any other person than to God, or to Christ alone.
The application of this supreme rock to Peter, is inconsistent with the plain reference to the preceding context, made by our Lord in the beginning of this very verse, “ And I The splendid virtues of the apostle entitled him to deference and consideration among his coequals ; but even these were not always yielded : when he proved himself in an error, and was to be blamed, Paul withstood him to his face. And the same apostle, magnifying his own office to the equality of that of his brethren, could say with boldness and truth, “ that he was not a whit behind the very chiefest of them.”— The primacy of Peter is a fond conceit of those whose object it is to establish a monarchy in the Church. The whole tenour of Scripture must convince an unbiassed reader, that the Church is built, not on Peter, but on the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone. Christ, without any intervention of his favourite apostle, is the “episcopatus unus,” from whom the Bishops of all the Churches descend in regu
also say unto thee,” which manifestly points out both by the copulative “and," and the connective adverb “ also,” the inseparable connexion of this verse with the previous declaration of Peter, in the preceding sentence, “ Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God;" and thereby demonstrates that our Lord's immediate reply, “ And I also say unto thee, &c." did necessarily include the declaration of Peter, as being the principal object of the sentence. The true foundation, or rock, on which the Catholic Church can be properly built: because our faith in Christ, that he is truly the Son of the living God, is unquestionably the only security of our salvation.
lar succession, as so many radii from the centre of a circle, or as so many rays constantly emanating from the solar orb.
If there be, then, as we maintain, no primacy conferred on Peter, the ground on which some would rest the unity of the Church is not tenable. For if there be no foundation, there can be no superstructure.
An appeal is made from the authority of Scripture to the opinion of the Fathers from divine inspiration to the glosses and conceits of fallible men. The authority of Cyprian is pressed into the service, in order to give sanction to this assumed primacy.-But compare Cyprian with Cyprian,' and we shall find, that he perfectly accords with the sentiments of other venerable Fathers of the Church—That the unity of the Church, under its own Head, Christ, was the only unity they ever contemplated. The essential unity of the universal Church consists, in
* “ The supposition of those who claim for St. Peter a primacy over the Apostles. St. Cyprian hath a reason for it somewhat more subtle and mystical, (supposing our Lord did confer on him a preference of this kind to his brethren, who otherwise in power and authority were equal to him)That he might intimate and recommend unity to us. And the other African doctors, Optatus and St. Austin, do commonly harp on the same notion. I can discern little solidity in this conceit, and as littte harm.”—Dr. Isaac Barrow.
holding the head, from whom the whole body joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body, unto the edifying itself in love. As the human body is formed by the union of all members to each other, under the head,-so is the Church formed by the union of its members, under Christ, « The Head.” The essential unity of each several Church consists in unity of doctrine, in unity of discipline, bound closely by the bond of union to its “episcopatus.”
The Catholic church denotes not one particular church; for there were, and are, many true particular churches, as far as they go by right doctrine, which antiquity always taught, in all churches, with one consent: and of which church, Christ is the head. The reformed churches may have a difference of opinion concerning modes and forms; but this does not affect the practice and essential faith of Christianity ; nor destroy the unity of the Catholic church. A diversity of opinions existed in the days of the apostles, and yet the churches under their superintendance were the true churches of Christ.
Far be it from the preacher to advocate a sectarian spirit of schism and division. For these evils, whether intra vel extra pomærium, tend to accelerate the downfall of the Church of
England, and the revival of Popery.—But we maintain that harmony in all points of view, in the imperfect state of the Militant Church, is not to be expected more than “absolute perfection in moral excellence.”p I dismiss this branch of my subject, with a question worthy of the notice of those, who, in the abstract, are laying an undue stress on “ the unity of the Church.” Is a plea of unity a sufficient arguinent to induce a person to join a' church, that has corrupted the pure word and worship of God ? If so, the pen of history must record a verdict of guilt against the Church of England, for separating from that of Rome ; and denounce the whole body of our Martyrs, as dying the death of deluded, or of factious men. 9
The next point in which we detect the fallacy of the Romanist, is, that of tradition. With consumate artifice he puts a question to the unwary disputant.—“ What authority have you for asserting that the sacred volumes are the genuine composition of the holy persons whose names they bear, except tradition, and the voice of the Church?” There is a species of tradition, which proves the genuineness of the Scriptures ; this is -tradition of testimony. But this is no way
P See Appendix, E.