« PreviousContinue »
20 Let him know, that
20 Γίνωσκετω, ὅτι ὁ επι
sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
he which converteth the ςρεψὰς ἁμαρτωλον ἐκ πλα νης ὁδου αυτου, σώσει ψυ χην εκ θανατου, και καλυψει πληθος ἁμαρτιων.
Ver. 20.1. Will save a soul from death. What greater motive can there be to excite the virtuous earnestly to exert themselves, in accomplishing the reformation of their erring brethren ?
2. And will cover a multitude of sins. The covering of sin is a phrase which often occurs in the Old Testament, and always signifies the pardoning of sin. Nor has it any other meaning here. For surely it cannot be the apostle's intention to tell us that the turning of a sinner from the error of his way, will conceal from the eye of God's justice, a multitude of sins committed by the person who does this charitable office, if he continueth in them. Such a person needs himself to be turned from the error of his way, in order that
20 Let him know that he who turneth a sinner back from the error of his way, will save a soul from death,1 and will cover a multitude of sins.2
20 Let such an one know, that he who turneth a sinner back from false doctrine and bad practice, will save a soul from the spiritual death, and will procure him the pardon of all his sins ; and for that good office will himself shine as the stars for ever and ever, Dan. xii. 3.
his own soul may be saved from death. St. Peter hath a similar expression: 1 Pet. iv. 8. Love covers a multitude of sins, not, however, in the person who is possessed of love, but in the person who is the object of his love. It disposes him to forgive his sins, see Prov. x. 12.-Atterbury however, (Serm. vol. 1. p. 46.) and Scott (Christ. Life, vol. 1. p. 368.) contend that the covering a multitude of sins includes also, that the pious action of which the apostle speaks, engages God to look with greater indulgence on the character of the person who performs it, and to be less severe in marking what he hath done amiss.
OF THE FIRST
EPISTLE OF THE APOSTLE PETER.
The History of Simon, whom our Lord surnamed Peter. SIMON was a natiye of Bethsaida, a town situated on the western shore of the lake of Gennesareth. He was by trade a fisherman, and had a brother named Andrew; but whether he was elder or younger than Simon, is not known. Their father was named Jonah or John; and probably was of the same occupation with his sons. Andrew was a disciple of John Baptist, John i. 35. 41. and heard him point out Jesus as the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. This good news Andrew communicated to his brother Simon and brought him to Jesus, who foreseeing the fortitude he would exercise in preaching the gospel, honoured him with the name of Cephas or Peter, which is by interpretation a stone, or rock. John i. 42.
Andrew and Peter, now become the disciples of Jesus, often attended him. Yet they still followed their trade of fishing occasionally, till he called them to a more constant attendance, promising to make them fishers of men, Matth. iv. 19. Afterwards, when he chose twelve of his disciples to be with him always and to be his Apostles, Peter and Andrew were of the number. About that time Peter had left Bethsaida, and had gone to Capernaum with his wife, who is thought to have been of that town. From Andrew's accompanying his brother thither, and living with him in the same house, it may be conjectured that their father was dead. With them Jesus also abode,
after he took up his ordinary residence in Capernaum: for he seems to have been pleased with the disposition and manners of all the members of the family. This house is sometimes called Peter's house, Mat. viii. 14. and sometimes the house of Simon and Andrew, Mark. i. 29.—Thus, as Lardner observes, it appears that before Peter became an apostle, he had a wife, was the head of a family, had a boat and nets, and a furnished house, and maintained himself by an honest occupation. To these things Peter alluded when he told his master, Behold we have left all and followed thee! What shall we have therefore, Mat. xix. 27.-The apostle Paul seems to insinuate, that Peter's wife attended him in his travels, after our Lord's ascension, 1 Cor. ix. 5.
Peter, now made an apostle, shewed on every occasion the strongest faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and the most extraordinary zeal in his service; of which the following are examples. -The night after the miracle of the loaves, when Jesus came to his disciples walking on the sea, they were affrighted, supposing that they saw a spirit. But Peter taking courage, said, Lord if it be thou, bid me come to thee on the water. And he said to him come, Matt. xiv. 28.-The next day, when many of our Lord's disciples, offended at his discourse in the synagogue of Capernaum, left him, Jesus said to the twelve, will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord to whom should we go, for thou hast the words of eternal life? and we know and are sure, that thou art the Christ, the son of the living God. In returning this answer, Peter was more forward than the rest, because his faith was strengthened, by the late miracle of his walking on the water. The same answer Peter gave, when Jesus in private asked his disciples, First, what opinion the people entertained of him? Next what was their own opinion? Matth. xvi. 16. Simon Peter answered and said, thou art the Christ, the son of the living God. Having received this answer, Jesus declared Peter blessed on account of his faith; and in allusion to the signification of his name, added, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church :—and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, &c. Many think these things were spoken to Peter alone, for the purpose of conferring on him privileges and powers, not granted to the rest of the apostles. But others, with more reason, suppose, that though Jesus directed his discourse to Peter, it was intended for them
all; and that the honours and powers granted to Peter by name, were conferred on them all equally. For no one will say, that Christ's church was built upon Peter singly. It was built on the foundation of all the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. As little can any one say that the power of binding and loosing was confined to Peter; seeing it was declared afterwards to belong to all the apostles, Matth. xviii. 18. John xx. 23. See Pref. to 1 Timothy, Sect. 5. Art. 1, 2. To these things add this, that as Peter made both his confessions in answer to questions which Jesus put to the whole apostles, these confessions were certainly made in the name of the whole. And therefore what Jesus said to him in reply was designed for the whole without distinction; excepting this which was peculiar to him, that he was to be the first, who after the descent of the Holy Ghost, should preach the gospel to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles an honour which was conferred on Peter in the expression, I will give thee the keys, &c.
Peter was one of the three apostles whom Jesus admitted to witness the resurrection of Jairus's daughter, and before whom he was transfigured, and with whom he retired to pray in the garden the night before he suffered. He was the person, who in the fervor of his zeal for his master, cut off the ear of the highpriest's slave, when the armed band came to apprehend him. Yet this same Peter, a few hours after that, denied his master three different times in the high-priest's palace, and with oaths. After the third denial, being stung with deep remorse, he went out and wept bitterly. This offence therefore Jesus pardoned. And, to testify his acceptance of his lapsed but penitent apostle, he ordered the women to carry the news of his resurrection to Peter by name; and appeared to him before he shewed himself to any other of his apostles. And, at another appearance, he confirmed him in the apostolical office, by giving him a special commission to feed his sheep.-From that time forth, Peter never faultered in his faith: but uniformly shewed the greatest zeal and courage in his master's cause.
Soon after our Lord's ascension, in a numerous assembly of the apostles and brethren, Peter gave it as his opinion, that one should be chosen to be an apostle, in the room of Judas. To this they all agreed, and by lot chose Matthias, whom on that occasion, they numbered with the eleven apostles. See Prelim. Essay I. Art. 1.-On the day of Pentecost following, when the Holy Ghost fell on the apostles and disciples, Peter standing up with the