« PreviousContinue »
But that the persons now contemplated, did not carry their designs to an extent inconsistent with the principles here maintained, appears in the unequivocal fact, that in preparing a liturgy for the Church of Scotland, for “ Priest” they put “ Pres. byter;" which accordingly is still found in the said liturgy. The above fact is stated by the learned Selden, in his treatise "De Synod, Vet. Ebræorum."* Be it, as Selden intimates, that this was done to reconcile the Scotch to an unpopular measure. Still, the agents were not so indiscreet, as to forfeit all pretensions to consistency in their religious system. If there should be alleged the cotemporary zeal manifested, to change the position of the Communion Tables; the reason assigned, was to prevent an irreverent use of them: and the point pressed was, not to make altars, but to place the tables where the altars formerly stood. The object of these remarks is to show, that however exceptionable some measures of that day may be considered, and are here thought to have been; there was no such extravagant scheme proposed, or even contemplated, as what would have been in contrariety to the principles maintained in this section.
The author would lament an approach to the opposite theory, among the clergy and other members of this Church; as having a threatening aspect on her peace.
* Vol. iii. lib. i. p. 408.
OF THE SPIRITUAL JURISDICTION CLAIMED BY
THE BISHOP OF ROME.*
Question of the Supremacy of St. Peter.-Passages of Scripture.-Succession to the Supremacy.--St. Peter not Bishop of Rome.--His Supremacy, if it existed, did not descend. -Councils.--Remarks on the Claim.--The temporal Authority affirmed by some.
On this subject, there are two distinctions which ought in reason to be taken; although they are often lost sight of in the argument on the other side. The first, is between any priority of order possessed by St. Peter, and there being attached to it a supereminence of spiritual authority, above that of his fellow apostles. The other, is between such an authority, had it existed, and the transmission of it along the line of the bishops of Rome. These shall be considered in their order.
UPREMACY OF SAINT PETER. Where the twelve disciples are professedly enumerated, it is said—“ The first, Simon called Peter:”+ but it surely requires something beyond this, to constitute a ground of paramount authority.
In the lecture, there were explained the two passages in Matt. xvi. 18, and John, xxi. 15. and fol. lowing. Concerning the former it was shown, that the rock on which the Church was to be built, is the confession made by Peter. To prove, that it was anciently so construed, much evidence might be brought from the fathers. But the testimony of Chrysostome shall suffice. He interpreted the words in question thus-“That is, the faith of his confession;"* adding, that it was with a reference to those who should from thenceforth believe.
* See Lecture VII.
* Matt. X. 2.
In the other passage, the very pointed address to St. Peter may so fairly be accounted for from circumstances on the face of the history; that it requires something more than implication, to be the ground of spe. cial power. Peter had thrice denied all knowledge of his master: which gives peculiar pertinency to the demand thrice made on him. He had boasted—“Although all shall be offended, yet will not 1."+ Ando" If I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” On this account, there is inexpressible tenderness in the
question—“Lovest thou me more than these?” as if to give opportunity to this apostle, to avoid the errour which he had fallen into before; of intimating himself to be possessed of fortitude, superiour to that of his compaa nions. The trial had its effect. For he thrice made the declaration of his own affection, but without running intò comparison. Had our Lord's speech to St. Peter been an investment with authority over his apostolick brethren; it would have been equally pertinent in regard to them, to have enjoined submission and obe. dience. But the whole transaction seems to have been adjusted to the design of securing the future stability of St. Peter, by a gentle yet pointed reference to his late vehement promise and apostacy. It would be absurd to suppose, that the sheep to be fed by St. Peter were his fellow apostles. This seems implied in the opposite interpretation of the text; but is inconsistent with the acknowledged fact, that all of them were immediately under the guidance of divine illumination.
* In Matt. Hom, 54.
+ Matt. xxvi. 33.
I Verse 35.
In the lecture, there were urged St. Paul's with. standing of St. Peter, in a manner expressive of equality in the characters; and St. James's presiding in the council of Jerusalem, implying his pre-eminence in the Church of that particular city; which ecclesiastical his. tory confirms. In addition to the above, the following objections occur on the face of Scripture, to the af. firmed personal supremacy of St. Peter.
When James and John manifested indications of af. fecting a supremacy, as recorded in Matt. xx. 25; the answer, as.it stands in the next verse, amounts to a de. claration, that there should be no such superiority among the twelve. It speaks this sense; however extravagant another, to which it is extended by some; as though there were to be no grades of order, among Christian people.
We read in Eph. iv. 11, and i Cor. xii. 28, of va. rious orders of the ministry. In each of the places it is
“ first apostles.” Certainly, had there been a supereminent apostle, to whom the others owed subjection, he would not have been overlooked in either of these places.
To the positive testimonies adduced, there may be added the various instances, in which the authority in question might have been expected to be noticed, but does not appear. St. Peter has written two epistles; in neither of which is there a single expression, suited to the character of a person possessed of supereminent authority. In the institution of the order of deacons, it was the work of the twelve, without any distinction in favour of St. Peter in particular. In the stir made at Antioch concerning the Mosaical rites, and on the bringing of the question before the apostles and the elders in Jerusalem, this apostle gave his opinion, but without any indication of peculiar authority attached to it. On his return from Cornelius in Cæsaria, certain zealots did not hesitate freely to accuse him of errour in that intercourse: and he defended himself, not by any plea of especial privilege, but by the command of heaven. In the visit to Samaria, noticed in Acts viii. 14; he went in the character of a missionary from the body of the apostles; which was very unsuitable to that of their superior: for as we read—“A servant is not greater than his lord, nor he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”* In whatever we read of the conduct of the apostles in planting Churches, there is not a word expressive of their conceiving of themselves, as accountable to St. Peter in particular. And finally, in whatever we read of controversy occurring, relative either to doctrine or to discipline, no appeal is made to this prince of the apostles, as he has been called. If his being the first named of the twelve, entitled him to the supreme authority over them; it might as fairly be urged, that St. Paul, who was not of the number, had supreme authority over all the Gentile Churches gathered afterwards: for he evidently puts himself on a level with St. Peter, in the different departments belonging to them respectively; where he speaks of both as entrusted, the one with the gospel of the circumcision, and the other with that of the un. circumcision. But it is not correct to allege, that St. Peter is always the first named. It stands otherwise where it is said " Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter”]—"The other apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas” ||-" James, Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars,”T and—“Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas.'
On passing from the Scriptures to the fathers, we find a plea grounded on some high sounding expres. sions of theirs; affirming a certain pre-eminence in St. Peter. On this it may be remarked, first, that the sub
* John xiii. 16
| Even when they began to apply this title to St. Peter; it conveyed to the mind a very different idea, from what is annexed to it in modern times. Among the Romans, the title of « Prince of the Senate,” designated priority of order, but without any authority accompanying it. The modern use of the same term, supposes the possession of some degree of power. Gal. ii. 7.
S John i. 44. || I Cor. ix, 5. Gal. ii. 9. ** 1 Cor. iii. 22.