Fundamental Baptist Institute
Dogmas of the Papacyby Rev. J.A. Wylie, LL.D.
Bellarmine, as was to be expected, has entered at great length into this question. He lays it down as an axiom, that Christ has adopted for the government of his Church that particular mode which is the best; and then, having determined, that of the three forms of government,--monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy,--monarchy is the most perfect, he concludes that the government of the Church is a monarchy. This inference he bases not simply on general reasonings, but also on particular passages of Scripture, in which the Church is spoken of as a house, a state, a kingdom. It is not enough that the Church has a head and king in heaven, with a code of laws on earth,--the Bible, to determine all causes and controversies. That king, says Bellarmine, is invisible; the Church must have an earthly and visible head. Having thus paved the way for the erection of the papal despotism, Bellarmine proceeds to show, from the passage quoted above, that Peter was constituted sole head and monarch of the Church under Christ. "Of that passage," remarks Bellarmine, "the sense is plain and obvious. Under two metaphors the primacy of the whole Church is promised to Peter. The first metaphor is that of a foundation and edifice; for what a foundation is in a building, that a head is in a body, a ruler in a state, a king in a kingdom, a father in a family. The latter metaphor is that of the keys; for he to whom the keys of a kingdom are delivered is made king and governor of that state, and has power to admit or exclude men at his pleasure." We merely state at present the interpretation of this fatuous passage given by the learned Jesuit: we shall examine it afterwards.
The two main reasons assigned by Dens why the Roman Church is termed apostolic are, first, That "the doctrine delivered by the apostles is the same which she has always held, and will continue to hold;" and, second, Because that Church "possesses a lawful and uninterrupted succession of bishops, especially in the chair of Peter." "Messiah founded the kingdom of his holy Church in Judea," says Dr. Milner, "and chose his apostles to propagate it throughout the earth, over whom he appointed Simon as the centre of union and head pastor, charging him to feed his whole flock, sheep as well as lambs, giving him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and changing his name into that of PETER or ROCK; adding, 'On this rock I will build my Church.' Thus dignified, St. Peter first established his see at Antioch, the head city of Asia; whence he sent his disciple St. Mark to establish and govern the see of Alexandria, the head city of Africa. He afterwards removed his own see to Rome, the capital of Europe and the world. Here, having with St. Paul sealed the gospel with his blood, he transmitted his prerogative to St. Linus, from whom it descended in succession to St. Cletus and St. Clement." In Dr. Challoner's Grounds of the Catholic Doctrine, as contained in the profession of faith published by Pope Pius IV., it is asserted "that the Church of Christ must be apostolical by a succession of her pastors, and a lawful mission derived from the apostles;" and when it is asked, "how do you prove this?" it is answered; 1st, Because only those who can derive their lineage from the apostles are the heirs of the apostles! and, consequently, they alone can claim a right to the Scriptures, to the administration of the sacraments, or any share in the pastoral ministry: it is their proper inheritance, which they have received from the apostles, and the apostles from Christ." "Her [Catholic Church] pastors, says Keenan, are the only pastors on earth who can trace their mission from priest to bishop, and from bishop to pope, back through every century, until they trace that mission to the apostles." This is a vital point with Rome. The primacy of Peter is her corner-stone; and if that is removed, the whole fabric tumbles into ruin. It is reasonable, then, to ask some proof of that long chain of facts by which she attempts to link the humble fisherman with the more than imperial pontiffs. We are entitled to demand that the Church of Rome produce conclusive and incontrovertible proof of the following points:--That Christ constituted Peter prince of the apostles and head of the whole Church; that Peter went to Rome, and there established his see; that, dying at Rome, he transmitted to his successors in his charge the rights and prerogatives of his sovereignty; and that these have been handed down through an unbroken series of bishops, every one of whom possessed and exercised Peter's powers and prerogatives. If the Church of Rome fail in establishing any one of these points, she fails as regards the whole. The loss of one link in this chain is as fatal as the loss of all. But, doubtless, in a matter of such consequence, where not much simply, but all, is at stake, Rome is ready with her evidences, full, clear, and incontrovertible; with her proofs from Scripture so plain and palpable in their meaning; and with her documents from history all endorsed and countersigned by cotemporary writers and great collateral facts. It is her citadel,--the arx causae pontifiae, as Spanheim terms it, --for which she is to do battle: doubtless she has taken care to make it impregnable, and "esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. Darts are counted as stubble;" she "laugheth at the shaking of a spear." So one would have thought. But alas for Rome! Not one of the positions above stated has she proved to be true, and not a few of them can be shown to be false.
The words of our Lord to Peter, already quoted, are the anchor by which Rome endeavours to fasten the vessel of her Church to the rock of Christianity: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." As it happens that, in the original, the term Peter and the term rock closely resemble each other, the Church of Rome has taken advantage of this, dexterously, and by a kind of sleight of hand, to substitute the one for the other, and thus to read the passage substantially as follows:--Thou art Peter; and upon thee, Peter, will I build my Church. The reader who is just breaking ground in the popish controversy learns with astonishment that this is the sole foundation of the Papacy, and that if the Church of Rome fail to make good that this is the true meaning of the text, her cause is lost. In no other case has so slender a foundation been made to sustain so ponderous a structure; nor would it have sustained it for a single five minutes, had it not been more indebted for its support to credulity and superstition, to fraud and compulsion, than to either reason or Scripture. "If the whole system of the Roman Catholic Church be contained in this passage," remarks the Rev. J. Blanco White, "it is contained like a diamond in a mountain;" and, we may add, this diamond would have remained buried in the mountain till the end of time, had not the Romish alchymists arisen to draw it forth. We look upon such feats of interpretation much as we gaze upon the feats of the juggler. Who but the Roman doctors could have evolved from this plain passage a whole race of popes? But why did they not go farther, and infer that each of these pontiffs would rival the sons of Anak in stature, and Mathuselah in longevity? The passage would have borne this marvel equally well. After proceeding a certain length in interpreting Scripture, it is easy to go all lengths; for that interpretation that proceeds on no fixed principles, and is regulated by no known laws, may reach any conclusion, and establish the possibility of any wonder.
But the Protestant may ask an hundred questions on this point, which it will baffle the ingenuity and sophistry of all the doctors of Rome satisfactorily to answer. Why was so important a fact, so vital a doctrine,--for let it be borne in mind, that they who do not believe in the infallibility of the Pope cannot be saved,--why was so important a fact as the primacy of Peter revealed in so obscure a passage? Why is there no other passage corroborating its sense, and helping out its meaning? Why, even with the aid of papal spectacles, or tradition, which discovers so many wonderful things in Scripture never seen by the man who examines it simply with the eyes of his understanding, do we fail to make out this sense from the passage? For the opinion of the fathers on the words of our Lord to Peter is directly opposed to the interpretation which the Church of Rome has put upon them; and every priest swears at his ordination that he "will not interpret the Scriptures but, according to the unanimous consent of the fathers." Peter but a moment before had made his great confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." And, says Poole, in his examination of the Church's infallibility, "the fathers generally understood this rock to be, not Peter's person, but his confession, or Christ, as confessed by him. Vide St. Cyril, Hilary, Hierom, Ambrose, Basil, and Austin, who are proved by Moulins, in his discourse entitled 'The Novelty of Popery,' to have held this opinion." Of the same sentiments was Chrysostom, Theodoret, Origen, and others. Here, then, we leave the priests of Rome taking a solemn oath at their ordination that they will not interpret Scripture except with the unanimous consent of the fathers, and yet interpreting this passage in a sense directly contrary to the concurrent opinion of the fathers.
What, then, are we to understand by the "rock" on which Christ declared that he would build his Church? Whether are we to understand Peter, who afterwards thrice denied him, or the great truth which Peter had just confessed, even the eternal deity of Christ? The fathers, we have seen, interpreted "this rock" of Christ himself, or of the confession of his deity by Peter; and so will every man, we venture to affirm, who is competent to form an opinion, and has no object to serve but the discovery of truth. Our Lord and his disciples were now on a northward journey to Cesarea Philippi. They were already within its coasts; the snowy peaks of Lebanon gleamed full in their sight; and nearer to them, indenting the bottom of "the goodly mountain," the wooded glens where the Jordan has its rise. Our Lord, knowing the time of his death to be nigh, thought it well, as they journeyed onward, to direct the current of the conversation to topics relating to the nature and foundation of that kingdom which was so shortly to be visibly erected in the world. "Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" said he to his disciples. To this interrogatory the disciples replied by an enumeration of the various opinions held respecting him by the people at large. "But," said he, directing his question specially to the disciples,--"But whom say ye that I am?" "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Pleased to find his true character so clearly understood, so firmly believed in, and so frankly avowed, our Lord turned to Peter and said, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed IT unto thee." What IT? Unquestionably the truth he had just acknowledged, that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God,"--a truth which lay at the foundation of his mission, which lay at the foundation of all his reaching, and, by consequence, at the foundation of that system of truth, commonly called his kingdom, which he was to erect in the world, and which, therefore, was a fundamental truth, if any truth ever merited to be called such; for unless it be true that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the living God," there is nothing true in Christianity,--it is all a fable. We must bear in mind, then, in proceeding to the next clause, that it was on this truth, which both Papist and Protestant must confess to be the very first truth in Christianity, that the minds of our Lord and his disciples were now undividedly fixed. "And I say also unto thee," continues our Lord, "that thou art Peter; and upon this rock will I build my Church." Upon what rock? Upon Peter, say Romanists, grounding their interpretation upon the similarity of sound, "Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram." Upon the truth Peter had just confessed, say Protestants, grounding their interpretation upon the higher principles of sense, and the reason of the thing. "Upon this rock, says our Lord, not upon thee, the rock, but upon this rock, namely, the truth you have now enunciated in the words, "the Christ, the Son of the living God,"--a truth which has been matter of special revelation to thee, the belief in which has made you truly blessed, and a truth which holds a place so fundamental and essential in the gospel kingdom, that it may be well termed "a rock." What is the Church? Is it not an association of men holding certain truths? The members of the Church are united, not by their belief in certain men, but by their belief in certain principles. As is the building, so must be the foundation: the building is spiritual, and the foundation must be spiritual also. And where, in the whole system of supernatural truth, is there a doctrine that takes precedence, as a fundamental one, of that which Peter now confessed? Remove it, and nothing can supply its place; the whole of Christianity crumbles into ruin. This truth formed the foundation of our Lord's personal teaching; it was this truth which he nobly confessed when he stood upon his trial; this truth formed the sum of the sermons of the apostles and first preachers of Christianity; and this truth it was that constituted the compendious creed of the primitive Church. Thus, in opposition to an interpretation which has nothing but an agreement in sound to support it, we can set an interpretation which is strongly supported by the reason of the thing, by the constitution of the Church as revealed in the New Testament, and by the whole subsequent actings and declarations of the apostles and primitive believers. To choose between these two interpretations appears to us to involve little difficulty indeed,--at least to the man in quest of the single object of truth.
To make the meaning, as we have evolved it, still more undoubted, it is added in the following clause, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." This power is manifestly given to Peter. But mark how our Lord points directly to him,--names him,--"I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Had he, in the preceding clause, meant to intimate that he would build his Church on Peter, doubtless he would have said so as plainly and with as little circumlocution as now, when giving him the keys. As regards this last, we shall permit Peter himself to explain the authority and privilege implied in it. "Brethren," said he, addressing the meeting at Jerusalem, "ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe." On Peter this great honour was conferred, that he was the first to "open the door" of the gospel Church to both Jews and Gentiles. The power which Romanists assign to Peter over the apocryphal world of purgatory, founding upon this verse, and also his sole right to open or shut the gate of paradise, is a gross and palpable misapprehension of its meaning. Peter himself tells us it was "the door of faith" which he was honoured to open, by the discharge of an office which those who are the most forward to claim kindred with him are the least ready to fulfil,--the preaching of the gospel. It is not the man who sits as sentinel at the fabulous portal of purgatory that carries the key of Peter, but the man who, by the faithful preaching of the everlasting gospel, "opens the door of faith" to perishing sinners. He is the real successor of Peter; he holds his key, and opens and shuts, on a higher authority than Peter's,--even that of Peter's master. Farther, we must bear in mind that Christ spoke in the vernacular tongue of Judea; and that not only are the Vulgate and English versions translations, but the Greek of the evangelist is a translation also; but it is inspired, and therefore as authoritative as the very words that Christ uttered. Now, it is not difficult to show that the most literal and correct rendering of the Greek would run thus:--"Thou art a stone (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my Church." When Peter was called to be an apostle, his name was changed from Simon to Cephas. Cephas is a Syriac word, and synonymous with Peter. This is indubitable, from the account we have of his call: "When Jesus beheld him, He said, thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone;" or, as it is in the original, Peter. Both names (χηρας and πετρος) signify a stone,--a stone that may be rolled about, or shifted from place to place, and therefore very proper to be used in building, but altogether unsuitable for being built upon. But the word used in the second clause of the passage, and translated "rock," is the word that strictly signifies a rock, or some mass which, from its immobility, is fitting for a foundation. Two different words, then, are employed, each having its appropriate signification. Now, it may be asked, if one person only, namely, Peter, is meant, why is not the same word employed in both clauses? Why, in the first clause, employ that word which denotes the material used in building; and, in the second, that word which denotes the foundation on which the building is placed? There is a nice grammatical distinction in the verse which the Protestant interpretation preserves, but which the Romanist interpretation violates. As Turrettine remarks, the petros of the first clause is masculine; whereas the petra of the second clause is feminine, and cannot, therefore, denote the person of Peter. If our Lord did indeed intend that petros, the stone, should form the rock or foundation of his Church, he would undoubtedly have repeated the masculine petros in the second clause. Why obscure the sense and violate the grammar by using the feminine petra? or why not use petra in both clauses, and so call Peter a rock, instead of a stone, if such was his meaning, and so preserve at once the figure and the grammar? It is clear that there are two persons and two things in this verse. There is Peter, a stone, and there is "the Christ, the Son of the living God," a rock. The words insinuate, delicately yet obviously, a contrast between the two. The Papists have confounded them, and have built upon the stone, instead of the rock.
Even were the passage dubious, which we by no means grant, its sense would fall to be determined by the great principles taught in other and plainer passages, about which there is not, and cannot be, any dispute. In the New Testament we find certain great principles on this subject, which the papal interpretation of the verse violates and sets at nought.
It is impossible that in the New Testament, which was written to make known the existence and constitution of the Church, its foundation should not be clearly and unmistakeably indicated. And, in truth, it is so in numerous passages. In his first epistle to the Corinthians we find Paul discoursing on this very topic, in a way to leave no room for doubt or cavil. He calls himself a master builder, and says, "I have laid the foundation." What was that foundation? Was it Peter's primacy,--the true foundation, according to Rome? Paul himself, in terms which do not admit of being misunderstood, tells us what that foundation is: "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." The question at issue is, On what foundation is the Church, that is, Christianity, built? On Jesus Christ, replies the apostle. If these words do not definitely settle that question, we despair of words being found capable of settling it. "It is here," says Calvin, "abundantly evident on what rock it is that the Church is built." Bellarmine, unable to meet this plain testimony, attempts to turn aside its force by saying, that it is granted that Christ is the primary foundation of the Church, but that Peter is the foundation of the Church in the room of Christ, or as Christ's vicar; and that it is proper to speak of the Church as immediately and literally built upon Peter. Now, no enlightened Protestant affirms that Romanists make Peter the sole and primary author of Christianity, or that they utterly ignore the person and work of the Saviour: the question, they admit, is regarding vicarship. But to make Peter the foundation of the Church in the room of Christ, or as Christ's vicar, is just to make him the foundation of the Church. To devolve upon a second party the immediate and literal government of the realm, would be a virtual dethronement of the real monarch, more especially if the party in question had no patent of investiture to exhibit. The more enlightened heathens willingly allowed the existence and supremacy of an infinite and invisible Being, only they put idols in his room. Romanists have dealt in the same way by the divine foundation of the Church: reserving the empty name to Christ, they have put him aside, and substituted another. The Bible furnishes not a tittle of evidence that the person of Peter can in any sense, or to any extent, be denominated the foundation. Nay, it explicitly asserts that Christ is that foundation, to the exclusion of all participation on the part of any one. "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
To the same import is the passage, "And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone." Romanists sometimes quote this passage, as if it favoured their theory of Christ being the primary foundation and Peter the immediate foundation of the Church. The passage overthrows this view. Romanists must admit that there are but two senses which can be put upon the words "the foundation of the apostles and prophets;" they can mean only the persons of the apostles and prophets, or the doctrine of the apostles and prophets; but either sense is opposed to the Romanist theory. If it be said that by the words "the foundation of the apostles and prophets" is meant their persons, what then becomes of Peter's primacy? He appears here simply as one of the twelve; nay, his name is not seen at all; and no hint is given that one is superior to another. If persons are here meant, then all the twelve are foundations; and, on the doctrine of transmission, each of the twelve ought to have his representative; we ought to have not only a Peter, but a James, a John, and a Paul in the world. Nay, we ought to have an Isaiah, a Jeremiah, an Ezekiel, and others also; for with the apostles of the New are joined the prophets of the Old Testament. If it be said that by "the foundation of the apostles and prophets" we are to understand their doctrines, this is just what we maintain, and is but another way of stating that Christ is the foundation.
It is clear that when Paul wrote this passage he was ignorant of Peter's primacy; and it is equally undeniable that every other writer in the New Testament was as ignorant of it as Paul. Amazing, that Peter should have been the Church's foundation, the Church's head, and that his superangelic dignity should have been unknown and unsuspected by his brethren! Or, if any man affirms the contrary, he must have had his knowledge through inspiration; for not the slightest allusion to it has come from the apostles themselves. The prophets may be excused for being ignorant of it. Although Isaiah spoke of a foundation which God was to lay in Zion,--"a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation," --there is nothing to lead us to suppose that he had the least idea that Peter was here meant. More marvellous still, Peter himself knew nothing of it; for we find him applying to another than himself these words just cited. And we find him, too, in his ignorance of his own primacy, misapplying another passage:--"The stone which the builders refused," said the Psalmist, "is become the head stone of the corner." So far was Peter from believing that himself was that stone, that we find him charging their rejection of Christ upon the chief-priest and his council as a fulfilment of the prophecy, "Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." Nay, more, our Lord himself knew not that the passage referred to Peter's primacy, otherwise he surely never would have claimed the honour to himself, as we find him doing. "Did ye never read in the Scriptures," said he to the representatives of those evil husbandmen who slew the Son, "the stone which the builders rejected, the same has become the head of the corner?" Thus, He who conferred the dignity, the person on whom that dignity was conferred, and those who were the witnesses of the act, all, on their own showing, were ignorant of the important transaction. The apostles preach sermons and write epistles, and omit all mention of the fundamental article of Christianity. They delivered to the world but a mutilated gospel. They kept back, through ignorance or through perversity, that on which, according to Bellarmine and De Maistre, hangs the whole of Christianity, and the belief in which is essential to salvation on the part of every human being. Paul preached "Christ crucified" when he ought to have preached "Peter exalted." He gloried in the "cross" when he ought to have gloried in the "infallibility." The profession of the Ethiopian eunuch to Philip ought to have run, not "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God," but "I believe that Peter is prince of the apostles and Christ's vicar." The writer of the epistle to the Ephesians, when he enumerates apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, and omits the pontiff, leaves out the better half of his list, and passes over an office-bearer who had much more to do with the perfecting of the saints and the unity of the Church than all the rest put together. And, in fine, when the survivor of the twelve, the beloved disciple, indited his epistles, exhorting to love and unity, recommending for this purpose an earnest attention to those things which they had heard from the beginning, he altogether mistook his object, and ought to have reminded those to whom he wrote that Peter's successor was reigning at Rome, and that the perfection of Christian duty was implicit obedience to the infallible dictates of the apostolic chair. But all the apostles went to their graves and carried this secret along with them. Peter's primacy was not so much as whispered in the world till Rome had bred a race of infallible bishops. Nevertheless, we have so much of the spirit of apostolical succession in us as to prefer being in error with the apostles to being in the right with the popes.
To help out the sense of this obscure passage, the Church of Rome has called in the assistance of other passages still more obscure,--obscure, we mean, not in themselves, but under the sombre lights of Rome's hermaneutics. Not a little stress has been laid upon the words that follow those on which we have been commenting,--"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shalt be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shalt be loosed in heaven." We have already adverted to these words, and have here only to remark, that, even granting the affirmation of the Papists, that the keys of the kingdom of heaven were given to Peter, to the exclusion of the other apostles, his tenure of sole authority must have been brief indeed; for we find our Lord, after his resurrection, associating all the apostles in the exercise of these keys. "Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained." Here no primacy is conferred on Peter. He ranks with the other apostles, and receives but his own share of the gift now conferred by his Master on all. If, then, Peter ever had sole possession of the keys, which we deny, he must from this time forward have admitted his brother apostles to a participation with him in his power, or usurped what did not belong to him, and was in no degree more his right than it was the right of all. If the former, how could Peter transmit to his successors what himself did not possess? and if the latter, he transmitted a power that was unlawful, because usurped; and therefore the Popes are still usurpers. "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not," said our Lord to the same apostle, when predicting that he should fall, but not finally apostatize; and Papists have built much upon the words, especially as regards the infallibility of the Pope. The words refer us back to a part of Peter's history which one would have thought those seeking to establish a primacy for him would have prudently avoided. They attest, as a historical fact, Peter's fallibility; and it does seem strange to found upon them in proof of the infallibility of the popes. If the ordinary laws which regulate the transmission of moral qualities operated in this case, and if Peter begot popes in his own likeness, how comes it that from a fallible man proceeded a race of infallible pontiffs? It is one of Rome's many mysteries, doubtless, which is to be believed, not explained. But to an ordinary understanding such arguments prove nothing but the desperate straits to which those are reduced who make use of them. And what, moreover, are we to think of the Council of Basil, which, by solemn canon, decreed that a pope might be deposed in case of heresy,--a most necessary provision, verily, against an evil which, on the principles of the papists, can never happen!
Once more, we are referred in proof of Peter's primacy to these words in John,--"Jesus saith unto him [Peter], feed my sheep." "At most, the words do only," as St. Cyril saith, "renew the former grant of apostleship, after his great offence of denying our Lord." But according to the Roman interpretation of these words, Peter was now constituted UNIVERSAL PASTOR of the Church. Now, certainly, as a doctor of the Sorbonne argues, if these words prove anything peculiar to Peter, they prove that he was sole pastor of the Church, and that there ought to be but one Church in the world, St. Peter's, and but one preacher, the Pope. "The same office," says Barrow, in his incomparable treatise on the supremacy of the Pope, "certainly did belong to all the apostles, who (as St. Hierom speaketh) were the princes of our discipline and chieftains of the Christian doctrine; they at their first vocation had a commission and command to go unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel, that were scattered abroad like sheep not having a shepherd; they, before our Lord's ascension, were enjoined to teach all nations the doctrines and precepts of Christ, to receive them into the fold, to feed them with good instruction, to guide and govern their converts with good discipline. Hence all of them (as St. Cyprian saith) were shepherds. But the flock did appear one, which was fed by the apostles with unanimous agreement. Neither could St. Peter's charge be more extensive than was that of the other apostles, for they had a general and unlimited care of the whole Church. They were ecumenical rulers (as St. Chrysostom saith), appointed by God, who did not receive several nations or cities, but all of them in common were entrusted with the world." The proofs of what is here asserted are not difficult to seek for. The very same charge here given by Christ to Peter, on which the Romanists have reared so stupendous a structure of exclusive and universal jurisdiction, does the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of Paul, give to the elders of the Church of Miletus. The apostle bids them "take heed to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers, to feed the Church of God." Nay, we find Peter himself, the holder, according to the Roman idea, of this universal pastorate, writing to the Asiatic churches thus:--"The elders I exhort, who am also an elder: feed the flock of God." Nor can we mistake the import of the last solemn act of Christ on earth, which was to commit the evangelization of the world--to whom? To Peter? No; to all the apostles. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." "And surely," says Poole, "Peter's diocese cannot be more extensive, unless perhaps Utopia be taken in, or that which is in the same part of the world, I mean purgatory."
On the supposition that Peter possessed the primacy, he must have exercised it; and if so, how comes it that not the slightest trace of such a thing is to be discovered, either in the New Testament or in Ecclesiastical History? The rest of the apostles were entirely ignorant of the fact. Even after the words on which we have been commenting were addressed to Peter, we find them raising the question, with no little warmth, "who should be the greatest" in their master's kingdom?--a question which Romanists believe had already been conclusively settled by Christ. Ardent in temper and fearless in disposition, Peter was on some occasions more prominent than the rest; but that was a pre-eminence springing from the man, not from the office. His whole intercourse with the other apostles does not furnish a single instance of official superiority. When "Judas by transgression fell," Peter did not presume to nominate to the vacant dignity; and yet, as prince of the apostles, and the fountain of all ecclesiastical dignity, he ought to have done so. We do not find him, as arch-apostle, appointing the ordinary apostles to their spheres of labour, or summoning them to his bar, to give an account of their mission, or reproving, admonishing, and exhorting them, as he might judge they required. In the synod holden at Jerusalem, to allay the dissensions which had sprung up on the subject of circumcision, it was James, and not Peter, that presided. Paul, in the matter of the Gentile converts, withstood Peter "to the face, because he was to be blamed." "We find," says Stillingfleet, "the apostles sending St. Peter to Samaria, which was a very unmannerly action, if they looked on him as head of the Church." Ministers do not send their sovereign on embassies. What would be thought should Cardinal Wiseman order Pius IX. on a mission to the United States? Nor, though very conspicuous, was this apostle the most conspicuous member in the small but illustrious band to which he belonged? Peter was overshadowed by the colossal intellect and prodigious labours of the apostle Paul. The great and indisputable superiority, in these respects, of this apostle, has been acknowledged by the popes themselves. The following may be cited as a curious sample of that unity which Rome claims as her peculiar attribute:--"He was better than all men," says Chrysostom, "greater than the apostles, and surpassing them all." Pope Gregory I. says of the apostle Paul,--"He was made head of the nations, because he obtained the principate of the whole Church."
Nor is it less unaccountable, on the supposition that Peter was head of the whole Church, that we fail to discover the remotest trace of this sovereignty in his epistles. Addressing the members of the Church on a variety of subjects, one would have thought that he must needs have occasion at times to remind them of his jurisdiction, and the duty and allegiance which they in consequence owed. But nothing of this sort occurs. "No critic perusing those epistles," remarks Barrow, "would smell a pope in them." Peter does not say,--"It is our apostolic will and command," as is now the style of the popes. The highest style he assumes is to speak in the common name of the apostles,--"Be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour."_A pontifical pen employed on these letters could not but have left traces of itself. The Epistles of Peter emit the sweet perfume of apostolic humility,--not the rank effluvia of papal arrogance.
Thus the primacy of Peter is without the least foundation, either in Scripture, in ecclesiastical history, or in the reason of the thing; and unless we are good enough to accept the word of the pontiff, given ex cathedra, in the room of all other evidence, this pretence of primacy must be given up as a gross delusion and imposture. The argument ends here of right; for all other reasons, urged from such considerations as that Peter was Bishop of Rome, are plainly irrelevant, seeing it matters not to the authority of the popes in what city or quarter of the world Peter exercised his office, unless it can be shown that he was primate of the apostles and head of the Church. But granting that that difficulty is got over, Papists are instantly met by other difficulties equally great. It is essential to the Roman scheme to establish as a fact, that Peter was Bishop of Rome. This no Romanist has yet been able to do. Now, in the first place, we are not prepared to deny that Peter ever visited Rome, any more than Papists are able to prove that he did. In the second place, the improbability of Peter having been Bishop of Rome is so exceedingly great, amounting as near as may be to an impossibility, that we would be warranted in denying it. And, in the third place, we do most certainly deny that Peter was the founder of the Church of Rome.
With regard to the averment that Peter was Bishop of Rome, it is as near as may be a demonstrable impossibility. To have been Bishop of Rome would have been in plain opposition to the great end of his apostleship. As an apostle, Peter had the world for his diocese, and was bound by the duty which he owed to Christianity at large, to hold himself in readiness to go wherever the Spirit might send him. To fetter himself in an inferior sphere, so that he could not fulfil his great mission,--to sink the apostle in the bishop,--to oversee the diocese of Rome and overlook the world,--would have been sinful; and we may conclude that Peter was not chargeable with that sin. Baronius himself confesseth that Peter's office did not permit him to stay in one place, but required him to travel throughout the whole world, converting the unbelieving and confirming the faithful. To have acted as the Romanists allege, would have been to desert his sphere and neglect his work; and it would scarce have been held a valid excuse for being "unfaithful in that which was much," that he was "faithful in that which was least." And if it would have been inconsistent on our principles, it would have been still more inconsistent on Romanist principles. On their principles, Peter was not only an apostle,--he was primate of the apostles; and, as Barrow observes, "it would have been a degradation of himself, and a disparagement to the apostolic majesty, for him to take upon him the bishoprick of Rome, as if the king should become mayor of London."
On other grounds it is not difficult to demonstrate the extreme improbability of Peter having been Bishop of Rome. Peter had the Jews throughout the world committed to him as his especial charge. He was the apostle of the circumcision, as Paul was of the Gentiles. This people being much scattered, their oversight was very incompatible with a fixed episcopate. His regard to the grand division of apostolic labour, to which we have just alluded, would have restrained him from intruding into the bounds of a brother apostle, unless to minister to the Jews; and at this time there were few of that people at Rome, a decree of the Emperor Claudius having, a little before, banished them from the metropolis of the Roman world; and, as Barrow remarks, "He was too skilful a fisherman to cast his net there, where there were no fish."
If Peter ever did visit Rome, of which there exists not the slightest evidence, his residence in that metropolis must have been short indeed,--by far too short to admit of his acting as bishop of the place. Paul passed several years at Rome: he wrote several of his epistles (the epistle to the Galatians, that to the Ephesians, that to the Philippians, that to the Colossians, and the second to Timothy) from that city; and though these abound with warm greetings and remembrances, the name of Peter does not once occur in them. In the epistle which he wrote to the Church at Rome, he sends salutations to twenty-five individuals, and to several whole households besides; but he sends no salutation to Peter, their bishop! It is plain, that when these epistles were written, Peter was not at Rome. "Particularly St. Peter was not there," argues Barrow, in his matchless treatise, "when St. Paul, mentioning Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Marcus, and Justus, addeth, 'these alone my fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God, who have been a comfort unto me.' He was not there when St. Paul said, 'at my first defence no man stood with me, but all men forsook me.' He was not there immediately before St. Paul's death (when the time of his departure was at hand), when he telleth Timothy that all the brethren did salute him, and, naming divers of them, he omitteth Peter."
Nor have the Romanists been able to establish in Peter's behalf that he was the founder of the Church at Rome. It is no uncertain inference, that the apostle Paul, if not the first to carry Christianity within the imperial walls, was the first to organize a regular Church at Rome. When the epistle to the Romans was written, there was a small company of believers in that metropolis, partly Jews and partly Gentiles; but they had never been visited by any apostle. Of this we find a proof in the opening lines of his epistle, where he says, "I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift." To an apostle only belonged the power of imparting such gifts; and we may conclude that, had the Christians at Rome been already visited by Peter, these gifts would not have been still to bestow. That they had as yet been visited by no apostle is indubitable, from what Paul assigns as the cause of his great desire to visit them, namely, "that I might have some fruit among you also, as among other Gentiles." Now, it was Paul's wont never to gather where he had not first planted; for, resuming, in the end of his epistle, the subject of his long-cherished visit to Rome, he says, "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation." By the hand of Paul then, and not of Peter, was planted the Roman Church,--"a noble vine," whose natural robustness and vigour of stock was abundantly attested by the renown of its early faith, as well as by the magnitude of its later corruptions.
But though we should concede the question of Peters Roman bishoprick, as we formerly conceded the point of his primacy, the Romanist is not a whit nearer his object. He is immediately met by the question, Were the arch-apostolical sovereignties and jurisdiction of Peter of a kind such as he could bequeath to his successor, and did he actually so bequeath them? This is a point which can be determined only by a consideration of the nature of these powers, and of what is related in the New Testament respecting the institution of offices for the future government of the Church. In the first place, Romanists found the gift of primacy to Peter upon certain acts done by Peter, and upon certain qualities possessed by Peter; but it is abundantly clear that these acts and qualities Peter could not communicate to his successors; therefore he could not communicate the dignity which was founded upon them. His office was strictly personal, and therefore expired with the person who had been clothed with it. In the second place, the apostleship was designed for a temporary purpose: it was therefore temporary in its nature, and ceased whenever that purpose had been served. In the next place, no one could assume the apostleship unless invested with it directly by Christ. The first twelve were literally called by Christ. The appointment of Matthias was by an express intimation of the Divine will, through the instrumentality of the lot; and that of Paul, perhaps the most powerful intellect which has ever been enlisted in the service of Christianity, by the miraculous and glorious appearance of Christ to him as he travelled to Damascus. Hence it is, that on this proof the apostle so often rests the validity of his great office,--"Paul, an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ." In the last place, it was essential on the part of all who bore the apostleship, that they had seen the Lord. This renders it impossible that this office could have validly existed longer than for a certain number of years after the death of Christ. The popes have at no time been very careful to keep their pretensions within the bounds of credibility; but we are not aware that any of them have ever gone so far as to assert that they had received investiture directly from Christ, or that literally they had seen the Lord.
It may also be urged with great force against Papists, as Barrow does, that "if some privileges of St. Peter were derived to popes, why were not all? Why was not Pope Alexander VI. as holy as St. Peter? Why was not Pope Honorius as sound in his private judgment? Why is not every pope inspired? Why is not every papal epistle to be reputed canonical? Why are not all popes endowed with power of doing miracles? Why did not the Pope, by a sermon, convert thousands? [Why, indeed, do popes never preach? Why doth he not cure men by his shadow? [He is, say they, himself his shadow.] What ground is there of distinguishing the privileges, so that he shall have some, not others? Where is the ground to be found?"
The practice of the apostles was in strict accordance with what we have now proved respecting the nature and end of the apostleship. They made no attempt to perpetuate an office which they knew to be temporary. They never thought of conveying to their contemporaries, or transmitting to their successors, prerogatives and powers which were restricted to their own persons, and which they knew would expire with themselves. They planted churches throughout the greater part of the then civilized world, and they ordained pastors in every place; but throughout the vast field which they covered with Christianity and planted with pastors and teachers, we do not find a single new apostleship created. One by one did these FATHERS of the Christian Church descend into the tomb; but the survivors took no steps to supply their place with men of equal rank and powers. It is not alleged that even Peter invested any with the apostleship; and yet no sooner does he breathe his last, than, lo! there springs from his ashes, as Romanists assure us, a whole race of popes. Most marvellous is it that the dead body of Peter should possess more virtue than the living man.
In fine, though we should concede this point, as we have conceded all that went before it, the difficulties of the Romanists are by no means at an end. Granting that Peter did possess this dignity,--granting that he made Rome its seat,--and granting, too, that he could and did transmit it to his successor when he died,--Romanists have still to show that this dignity has descended pure and entire to the present occupant of the pontifical throne. It is not enough that the mystic waters existed on the Seven Hills eighteen centuries ago; we must be able to trace the continuity of the channel which has conveyed them over the intervening period to our day. Pius IX. is the two hundred and fifty-seventh name on the pontifical list; and, in order to prove that in him resides the plenitude of pontifical power, the Romanist must show that every one of his predecessors was duly elected,--that none of them fell into heresy, or into simony, or into any other error which the Roman councils have declared to be inconsistent with being valid successors of Peter, or, indeed, members of the Church at all. But is there a man living who has the least acquaintance with history, who will undertake this, or who, on the question of genuineness, would stand surety for the one-half of those who have sat in the chair of Peter? Is it not notorious that that chair has been gained, in instances not a few, by fraud, by bribery, by violence,--that the election of a pope has often led to the deluging of Rome with blood,--that men who have been monsters of iniquity have called themselves the vicars of Him who was without sin,--that there have been violent schisms, numerous vacancies, and sometimes two, or even three, pretenders to the popedom, each of whom has endeavoured to establish his pretensions by excommunicating his rival,--thus affording a fine specimen of Catholic unity, as they have also done of Catholic infallibility, when, as in cases not a few, one pope has flatly contradicted another pope, and that in circumstances where it was quite possible that both popes might be wrong, but altogether impossible that both could be right? It is notorious also, that in many instances popes have fallen into what the Church of Rome accounts heresy, and have ceased, in consequence, not only to be genuine popes, but even members of the Church. What became of the apostolic dignity in these cases? How was it preserved, and how transmitted? Sometimes we find the chair of Peter vacant, at other times it is filled with a heretical pope, at other times it is claimed by two or more popes, each of whom is as like or as unlike Peter as his rival. So far is the line of succession from being continuous, that we find it broken, at short intervals, by wide gaps, through which, if there be any truth in Romanist principles, the mystic virtues must have lapsed, leaving the Church in a most deplorable state, her popes without pontifical authority, her priests without true consecration, and her sacraments without regenerating efficacy. The great geographical problems which have been undertaken in our day, in which mighty rivers have been traced up to their source, through tangled forests, and low swampy flats on which the miasma settles thick and deadly, and through the burning sands of the trackless desert, have been of easy achievement, compared with that of the man who would trace up to its source that mystic but powerful influence which is held to pervade the Church of Rome. And even when some bold spirit does adventure upon the onerous task, and pushes resolutely on through the moral wastes, the tangled controversies, and the perplexed and devious paths of the Papacy, and through the dense clouds of superstition and vice that overhang the pontifical annals, what is his disappointment to find that, instead of being conducted at last to the pellucid waters of the apostolic fount, he is landed on the mephitic shores of some black and stagnant pool,--some Acheron of the middle ages!
Thus have we examined, severally, the assumptions of Rome on this fundamental point. Some of them are utterly false, the rest are in the highest degree improbable, and not one of them has Rome been able to establish. This forms her foundation; and what is it but a quicksand? Though we should agree to concede the point to Rome on condition that she made good but one of these propositions, she would fail; and yet it is essentially necessary to the success of her cause that she should establish every one of them. If but one link be awanting in this chain, its loss forms an impassable gulf, which eternally divides Popery from Christianity, and the Church of Rome from the Church of Christ.
 Matth. xvi. 18.
 John, xxi. 17.
 Bellarm. de Roman. Pont. lib. i. cap. 1-9
 Bellarm. de Roman. Pont. cap. x. et seq.
 Theologia Mor. et Dog. Petri Dens, tom. ii. pp. 123, 124
 Milner's End of Controversy, part ii. p. 132.
 Grounds of Catholic Doctrine, by Challoner, chap. i. sect. v.
 Controversial Catechism, p. 22.
 Spanhemii Vindiciae Biblicae, lib. ii. loc. xxviii.; Frankfort, 1663.
 The Douay version of the Bible has this note on Matt. xvi. 18:--"The words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews, which our Lord made use of, were the same as if he had said in English, Thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my Church. So that by the plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock upon which the Church was to be built, Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same." This commentary is at direct variance with the original, which runs thus:--Σύ εΐ Πετρος, χαι επι ταύτη τη πέτρα οιχοδομήσω μου την ιχχλησίαν. It also contradicts the Vulgate, which is the authorized version of the Church of Rome. In the Vulgate, the words are:--"Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam." The German has it thus:--"Du bist Petrus, und auf diesen Felsen will ich bauen meine Gemeine." The Italian thus:--"Tu sei Pietro, e sopra questa pietra io edifichero la mia chiesa." And the French thus:--"Tu es Pierre, et sur cette pierre je battirai mon Eglise." Of all these versions, the only one in which the resemblance between the two terms "Peter" and "rock" is complete is the French; and in that version, in order to maintain the play upon the term "pierre," the word rock is mistranslated by a term that signifies a stone. (See Cookesley's Sermons on Popery; Eton, 1847.)
 Practical and Internal Evidence against Catholicism, p. 76.
 Matt. xvi. 16.
 A Blow at the Root of the Romish Church, chap. ii. prop. ii.
 Turrettine, in his treatise "De Necessaria Secessione nostra ab Ecclesia Romana," and Barrow, in his great work "On the Supremacy of the Pope," have given copious citations from the fathers, showing their perfect agreement on the point, that the "rock" referred to the truth Peter had just confessed, or to Christ himself.
 Matt. xvi. 13-20.
 Acts, xv. 7.
 Acts, xiv. 27.
 For some centuries before and after our Saviour's time the vernacular dialect of Judea was a compound of Hebrew, Chaldaic, and Samaritan, with a slight intermixture of Persian, Egyptian, Greek, and Latin words.
 John, i. 42.
 Such is the rendering given to these terms by Stockius and Schleusner, who quote, in support of their opinion, instances of this use of the terms by the best Greek writers.
 Turrettine, vol. iv. p. 116.
 The clause should have run, to justify the Popish interpretation ετι τουτω τω πετρω, instead of επι ταυτη τη πετρα.
 1 Cor. iii. 10, 11
 De Roman. Pont. lib. i. cap. x.
 Ephesians, ii. 20.
 It is well remarked by Spanheim, in his admirable commentary on Matthew, xvi. 18, which contains the germ of almost all that has been written since on this famous passage, that not only are the twelve apostles grouped together when spoken of as foundations, but they are mentioned singly also, as well as Peter. "Nec tantum omnes simul sumpti, sed et singuli, aeque ac Petrus totidem fundamenta. Hinc ζεμέλιοι δωδεχα, τοις δωδεχα Αποστολοις." (Apoc. xxi. 14.) "Et ratio plana, quia singuli aeque ac Petrus, nullo discrimine habito, fundarunt universali missione Christianam ecclesiam quae domus et civitas Dei." (Spanhemii Vindiciae Biblicae, lib. ii. loc. xxviii."
We are not aware that it has ever been remarked that the apocalyptic symbol here is framed in exact agreement with our interpretation of Matthew, xvi. 18, and in flat contradiction to the papal interpretation. The gospel Church is seen by John in millennial glory, under the symbol of a city. The city has twelve foundations, with the name of an apostle inscribed on each; showing that the Church is built on the doctrine which all twelve had been employed in preaching. The city had twelve gates, showing that all twelve, and not Peter only, had been honoured to open the "door of faith" to the world. On the papal interpretation the city ought to have had but one foundation and one gate; or, if there must needs be twelve foundations, the gate of Peter ought to have been inscribed on all of them. It may be objected that this is too figurative. Romanists at least are not entitled to bring this objection, seeing their great champion Bellarmine has built his famous argument on the metaphor of a building employed in Matthiew, xvi. 18.
 Isaiah, xxviii. 16.
 1 Peter, ii. 6, 7
 Psalm cxviii. 22.
 Acts, iv. 10, 11
 Matthew, xxi. 42.
 Ephesians, iv. 11, 12
 John, xx. 22, 23
 John xxi. 16, 17.
 Barrow's Works, vol. i. p. 586.
 Stillingfleet's Doctrines and Practices of the Church of Rome, by Dr. Cunningham, p. 217; Edin. 1845.
 Barrow's Works, vol. i. pp. 586, 587
 Acts, xx. 28.
 1 Peter v. 1, 2
 Mark, xvi. 15.
 Blow at the Root of the Romish Church, chap. ii. prop. ii.
 Acts, xv.
 Gal. xi. 11
 Rational Account of the Grounds of the Protestant Religion, p. 456.
 See Barrow on the Supremacy, Barrow's Works, vol. i. p. 592.
 Barrow's Works, vol. i. p. 568.
 As Romanists now ascribe to Mary the work of redemption, so they have begun to put the primacy of Peter in the room of the mission of Christ, by speaking of it as the grand proof of God's love to the world. In a "pastoral" issued upon the festival of St. Peter, by "Paul, by the grace of God and favour of the apostolic see, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland," given in the Tablet of June 28, 1851, we find the writer commenting on the words, thou art Peter, &c.;, and speaking of "the virtues and glory of him to whom they were addressed. The visible image of the Divine paternity which encircles heaven and earth in its embrace, nowhere does the providence of God shine forth with so much splendour, whilst impressing into the hearts of the faithful the most ineffable confidence and consolation, as in the guardianship of his Church, entrusted to Peter and his successors." And then follows the blasphemous application of Ephesians, iii. 18, to Peter's primacy, "and particularly, that in the most glorious and touching manifestation of his paternal love towards us in the guardianship of this Church, 'you may be able to comprehend with all the saints, what is its 'breadth and length, and height and depth.'"
 Baron. anno 58, sec. li.
 Barrow's Works, vol. i. p. 599.
 Galatians, ii. 7, 8
 There was a formal arrangement among the apostles touching this matter. Peter, along with James and John, gave his hand to Paul, and struck a bargain with him that he (Paul) "should go unto the heathen, and they (James, Cephas, and John) unto the circumcision." If, then, Peter became Bishop of Rome, he violated this solemn paction. (See Gal. ii. 9.)
 Barrow's Works, vol. i. p. 599.
 The Romanists affirm that Peter was Bishop of Rome during the twenty-five years that preceded his martyrdom. His residence in the capital began, according to them, in A.D. 43. He was martyred in A.D. 68. But on Paul's first visit to Jerusalem, in A.D. 51, he found Peter there, when, according to the Romanist theory, he should have been at Rome. It appears also, from the 1st and 2nd chapters of Galatians, that from Paul's conversion till his second visit to Jerusalem, that is, seventeen years, Peter had been ministering to the Jews; and, as shown in the text, he was not at Rome at the time of Paul's imprisonment and martyrdom. If he was indeed Bishop of Rome, he must have been sadly guilty of non-residence,--a practice strictly forbidden by the decrees of the primitive Church.
 Barrow's Works, vol. i. p. 600. We have eight instances of Paul's communicating with Rome,--two letters to, and six from that city,--during the alleged episcopate of Peter there; and yet not the slightest allusion to Peter occurs in any one of these letters. This is wholly inexplicable on the supposition that Peter was at Rome.
 Romans, i. 11.
 Rom. i. 13.
 Rom. xv. 20.
 Rom. i. 8, "Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world."
 Galatians, i. 1.
 Barrow's Works, vol. i. p. 596.
 Amongst the other concessions to the spirit of the age which marked the early part of the pontificate of Pius IX., was that of preaching, which he did once in St. Peter's. We know not what loss literature may have sustained, but theology has sustained a great loss, doubtless, from the want of short-hand writers at Rome; for the sermon, like the preacher, was, we may presume, infallable.
 The chair of Peter has a festival in its honour. We have all heard of the statement of Lady Morgan, that the chair is inscribed with the creed of the Musselman,--"There is one God, and Mahomet is his Prophet:" It is also related, that when, in 1662, the chair was cleaned, the twelve labours of Hercules appeared carved upon it. A Romanist divine, however, unwilling that the unlucky characters should militate against the authenticity of the chair, interpreted them as emblematical of the exploits of the popes.
 Pope Liberius avowed Arianism, and Pope Honorius was a Monothelite.