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Mat. xvi.18. And I
say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and Cæsarea upon this rock I will build my Church : and the gates of Philippi. hell shall not prevail against it.
Peter generally proved himself the chief speaker, and he con-
tinued to do so after our Lord's ascension, without, however,
assuming the least degree of authority over the rest of the
apostles. The occasion of our Lord's addressing Peter was the
confession the Apostle had just made; and He may be consi.
dered as speaking prophetically, when he said, pointing to or
resting bis hapd upon the Apostle, thou art Peter, and on thee,
as the first preacher to the Gentiles, and on this confession,
which thou shalt preach to them, I will establish my Church. -
Beza, Lightfoot, Bishop Burgess, in his treatise inserted in a
collection of tracts lately published, and many others, among
wbom may be reckoned some of the popes themselves, have
espoused this conclusion. Bishop Marsh, however, in his work
on the Comparison between the Churches of England and
Rome ; Grotius, Michaelis, Whitby, with Pere Simon, and
the Romanists in general, have adopted the latter opinion.
Among other of the Protestant writers who have strenuously
advocated the opinion that Christ and not St. Peter was the
founder of the Christian Church, we meet with the venerable
name of the late Granville Sharp. The assumption of supremacy
over all the Churches of Christ by the Church of Rome, filled
him with astonishment. He was induced, in consequence, to pay
particular attention to the passage upon which this arrogant
claim was supported, and the result of his examination is here
annexed. The Greek word metpos, he observes, does not mean a
rock, though it has indeed a relative meaning to the word merpa,
a rock ; for it signifies only a little piece of a rock, or a stone,
that has been dug out of a rock; whereby the diguity of the real
foundation intended by our Lord, which he expressed by the pro-
phetical figure of Petra (a rock,) must necessarily be understood
to bear a proportionable superiority of dignity and importance
above the other preceding word petros; as petra, a real rock,
is comparatively superior to a mere stone, or particle from the
because a rock is the regular figurative expression in Holy Scripture for a Divine Protector ; bo min, Jehovah (is my rock,) 2 Sam. xxii. 2. and Psa. xviii. 2. Again, 1778 obx, my God (is) my rock, (2 Sam. xxii. 2. and Psa. xviii. 2.) and again, 1977x myban 778831 and who (is) a rock, except our God? 2 Sam. xxii. 32.
That our Lord really referred to this declaration of Peter, relating to his own divine dignity, as being the true rock, on which he would build bis Church, is established beyond contradiction by our Lord himself, in the clear distinction which he maintained between the stone (Tetpos, petros,) and the rock, (Trespa, petra,) by the accurate grammatical terms in which both these words are expressly recorded. For whatsoever may have been the language in whicb they were really spoken, perhaps in Chaldee or Syriac, yet in this point the Greek record is our only authoritative instructor. The first word, fretpos, being a masculine noun, signifies merely a stone ; and the second word, Tetpa, though it is a feminine noun, cannot signify any thing of less magnitude and importance than a rock, or strong mountain of defence.
With respect to the first. The word terpoc, petros, 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, that is, one out of the great multitude of true be
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of Cæsarea
lievers in Christ, who, as figurative stones, form altogether the
glorious spiritual building of Christ's Church, and not the
foundation on which that Čburch is built ; because that figura.
tive character cannot, consistently with truth, be applied to
any other person than to God, or to Christ alone. And though
even Christ himself is sometimes, in holy Scripture, called a
stone, (100s, but not retpos,) yet whenever this figurative ex-
pression is applied to him, it is always with such a clear dis-
tinction of superiority over all other figurative stones, as will
not admit the least idea of any vicarial stone to be substituted
in bis place; as, for instance, he is called, “ the head stone of
the corner,” (Psa. cxviii. 22.)" in Zion a precious corner-
stone,” (Isa. xxviii. 16.) by whom alone the other living stones
of the spiritual house are rendered " acceptable to God;" as St.
Peter himself (previous to his citation of that text of Isaiah)
has clearly declared, in his address to the Churches dispersed
throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithy-
nia, wherein be manifestly explains that very text of Isaiah, as
follows:-"Ye also," says the Apostle, “ as living stones, are
built up a spiritual house, a holy priestbond, to offer up spiri-
tual sacrifices acceptable to God, by (or through) Jesus Christ,"
(! Pet. ii. 5.). Thus plainly acknowledging the true founda-
tion, on which the other living stones of the primitive Catholic
Church were built, in order to render them “ acceptable to
God,” as a holy priesthood."
From this whole argument of St. Peter, it is manifest that
there cannot be any other true head of the Church than Christ
himself; so that the pretence for setting up a vicarial head on
earth, is not only contrary to St. Peter's instruction to the
eastern Churches, long after Christ's ascent into heaven ; but
also (with respect to the inexpediency and impropriety of ac-
knowledging such a vicar on earth as the Roman pretender, is
equally contrary to our Lord's own instruction to his disciples,
(and, of course, also contrary to the faith of the true primitive
Catholic Church throughout the whole world) when he promised
them that, “ Where two or three are gathered together in my
name, (said our Lord Jesus, the true rock of the Church,)
there am I in the midst of them,” Mat. xviii. 20.
So that the appointment of any vicar on earth, to represent that rock, or eternal head of the Church, whose continual presence, even with the smallest congregations on earth, is so expressly promised, would be not only superfluous and vain, but must also be deemed a most ungrateful affront to the benevolent Promiser of his continual presence ; such as must have been suggested by our spiritual enemies, to promote an apostacy from the only sure foundation, on which the faith, hope, and confidence of the true Catholic Church could be built and supported.
A due consideration also of the second noun, Terpa, a rock, will demonstrate that the supreme title of the rock, which, in other texts of Holy Scripture, is applied to Jehovah, or God, alone, most certainly was not intended by our Lord to be understood as applicable to his disciple Peter; but only to that true testimony which St. Peter had just before declared, concerning the divine dignity of the Messiah-" Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
I have already remarked, that herpa (a rock) is a feminine noun; and a clear distinction is maintained between Terpos, tho masculine noun in this text, and the said feminine noun terpa,
Mat. xvi. 19. heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall Cæsarea
the rock, by the grammatical terms in which the latter, in its re-
latives and articles, is expressed, .which are all regularly femi-
nine throughout the whole sentence, and thereby they demon-
strate that our Lord did not intend that the new appellation, or
nominal distinction, which he had just before given to Simon,
(viz. Tetpos, the masculine noun, in the beginning of the sen-
tence) should be constructed as the character of which he spoke
in the next part of the sentence; for, if he had really intended
that construction, the same masculine noun, 7TETpos, must neces-
sarily have been repeated in the next part of the sentence with
a masculine pronoun, yiz. ene TOUTY TU TET24, instead of Enl
Tauty TO Terpa, the present text; wherein, on the contrary, not
only the gender is changed from the masculine to the feminine,
but also the figurative character itself, which is as much superior
in dignity to the apostle Simon, and also to his new appellative
Tetpos, as a rock is superior to a mere stone. For the word
Tempos cannot signify any thing more than a stone ; so that the
Popish application to Peter (or nepoc) as the foundation of
Christ's Church, is not only inconsistent with the real meaning
of the appellative, which Christ at that very time conferred
upon bim, and with the necessary grammatical construction of
it, but also with the figurative importance of the other word,
πετρος, the rock ; επι ταυτη τη πετρα, upon this rock” he de-
clared the foundation of the Church, a title of dignity, which, as
I have already shewn by several texts of Scripture, is applicable
only to God or to Christ.
And observe farther, that the application of this supreme title
(the rock) to Peter, is inconsistent, above all, with the plain re-
ference to the preceding context, made by our Lord in the be-
ginning of this very verse—“And I also say unto thee," which
manifestly points out, both by the copulative “ and," and the
connective adrerb “ also," the inseparable connection of this
verse with the previous declaration of Peter, concerning our
Lord's divine dignity in the preceding sentence, “ Thou
art the Christ the Son of the living God;" and thereby demon-
strates that our Lord's immediate reply, (" And I also say unto
thee," &c. did necessarily include this declaration of Peter, as
· being the principal object of the sentence the true foundation
or rock, on wbich alone 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, or rock,
of our salvation.
And Christ was also the rock, even of the primitive Church
of Israel ; for St. Paul testifies, that “they (i. e. the hosts of
Israel) did all drink of that spiritual drink, for they drank of
that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was
Christ," 1 Cor. x. 4. And the apostle, in a preceding chapter
(1 Cor. ii. 11.) says, “ other foundation canno man lay than
that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
It would exceed all due limits to attempt to discuss at full length, the controversies which bave divided Christians, when the peculiar passages of Scripture upon which each controversy principally depends, passes under consideration. The observations of Granville Sharp, which I have now extracted, appear to be deserving attention The various points which separate the Catholic and Protestant Church, will soon perhaps compel the more serious attention of the Protestant world, by the general revival and increase of Popery, and the re-action in its favour in a neighbouring country. 'And it may be considered
Mat, xvi.19. be bound in heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose on Cæsarea earth, shall be loosed in heaven".
the bounden duty of every theological student to make himself
acquainted with the controversy existing between the Churches
of England and Rome (b).
The political discussions respecting the extent of the privi-
leges which the state may conveniently assign to the members
of the Church of Rome, bave of late ycars so entirely absorbed
public attention, that they have almost superseded the religious
argument, which is by far the most important part of the
controversy; insomuch as mistaken religious principle is the root of that system of action, which originally excited the vigilance of the legislature, and still requires a watchful superintendance.
(a) Vide Elsley in loc. who quotes Chrys. in Matt. xvi. 18. and Tom. 5. or, 163. (6) Šee on this subject the tracts of the Bishop of St. David's
the tracts against Popery. The ninth volume of Bishop Hall's works. Bishop Bull's reply to the Bishop of Meaux. Barrow's Pope's Supremacy, and many others.
19 Lightfoot has given us abundant proofs of the manner in which this expression was understood among the Jews, and the manner in which it consequently ought to be understood among Christians. The phrase inabo TIONS “ to bind and to loose,” in the common language of the Jews, signified to probibit, and to permit, or to teach what is prohibited or permitted, what is lawsul or unlawful. Lightfoot then produces many instances, and goes on to observe-by this sense of the phrase the intention of Christ is easily ascertained, namely, he first confers on the apostles the ministerial power to teach what is to be done, and the contrary; he confers this power on them as ministers, and on all their successors to the end of the world. Their power was more extensive than that of others, because they received authority to prohibit or to allow those things that were ordained in the law of Moses (a).
In his Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations on St. Mat. thew (b), Lightfoot produces many more instances where the words to loose and to bind are applied in this sense; and he shews that these words were first used in doctrine and in judgments; concerning things allowed or not allowed, in the law. Secondly, that to bind is the same with to forbid, or to declare forbidden. To think that Christ, (be continues) when be used the common phrase, was not understood by his hearers, in the common and vulgar sense, shall I call it a matter of laughter, or of madness?
To this, therefore, do these words amount: when the time was come wherein the Mosaic law, as to some part of it, was to be continued and to last for ever, he granted Peter here, and to the rest of the apostles. chap. xviii. 18. a power to abolish or confirm what they thought good; being taught this, and led by the Holy Spirit, as if he shonld say-whatsoever ye shall bind in the law of Moses that is forbid, it shall be forbidden, the divine authority confirming it; and whatsoever ye shall loose, that is, permit, or shall teach that it is permitted and lawful, shall be lawful and permitted. Hence tbey bound, that is forbad, circumcision to the believers ; eating of things offered to idols, of things strangled, and of blood for a time, to the Gentiles; and that which they bound on earth was confirmed in heaven. They loosed, that is, allowed purification to Paul, and to four other brethren, for the sbunning of scandal, Acts xxi, 24. and, in a word, by these words of Christ it was com.
Mat. xvi. 20. Then charged he
Luke ix. 21. he straitly charged
mitted to them ; the Holy Spirit directing, that they should
make decrees concerning religion, as to the use and rejection
of Mosaic rites and judgments, and that either for a time, or for
Let the words he applied, by way of parapbrase, to the
matter that was transacted at present with Peter. “I am
about to build a Gentile Church,” saith Christ, “and to thce,
O Peter, do I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, that
thou mayest first open the door of faith to them: but if thou
askest hy what rule that Church is to be governed when the
Mosaic rule may seem so improper for it, thou shalt be so guided
by the Holy Spirit, that whatsoever of the law of Moses thou
shalt forbid them, shall be forbidden; whatsover thou grantest
them, shall be granted, and that under a sanction made in
heaven, Hence in that instant, when he should use his keys,
that is, when he was now ready to open the gate of the Gospel
to the Gentiles, Acts x. he was taught from heaven that the
consorting of the Jew with the Gentile, which before had been
bound, was now loosed ; and the eating of any creature conve.
nient for food, was now loosed, which beforo had been bound;
and he in like manner looses both these.
Those words of our Saviour, John xx. 23. Whose sins ye
remit, they are remitted to them, for the most part are forced
to the same sense with these before us, when they carry quite
another sense. Here the business is of doctrine only, not of
persons; there of persons, not of doctrine. Here of things
lawful or unlawful in religion, to be determined by the apos-
tles; there of persons obstinate, or not obstinate, to be pu-
nished by them, or not to be punished.
As to doctrine, the apostles were doubly instructed. 1. So
long sitting at the feet of their Master, they had imbibed the
· 2. The Holy Spirit directing them, they were to determine
concerning the legal doctrine and practice, being completely
instructed and enabled in both, by the Holy Spirit descending
upon them. As to the persons, they were endowed with a pe.
culiar gift, so that the same Spirit directing them if they would
retain, and punish the sins of any, a power was delivered into
their hands of delivering to Satan, of punishing with diseases,
plagues, yea, death itself, which Peter did to Ananias and Sap-
pbira ; Paul to Elymas, Hymeneus, and Philetus, &c.
Schoetgen (c) adds many instances to those collected by
Lightfoot, that to loose and to bind signified to pronounce what
was lawful and unlawful ; cloan and unclean ; condemned or
permitted in the Mosaical dispensation. From all which he
infers, that among the Jews this power of binding and loosing
was given to Rabbis, or Teachers, who were skilled in the law,
and appointed to instruct the people, and that our Lord not
only claimed to himself the same power whicb had hitherto been
possessed by the Jewish teachers, but bestowed it upon his own
disciples, and invested them in his new dispensation with the
same authority as that which had been hitherto exerted only by
the Jewish teachers.
The power of binding or loosing, of declaring what is lawful and what is unlawful, is evidently the highest power of governing; and of imposing laws for the guidance and direction of the spiritual society of the Church. It was the belief of the primitive Cburch, that this power was confided to the apostles ;