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thee.” She never was, therefore, the mother of all churches. She could not bear the root.
But we deny the supremacy or infallibility of Peter. I return to Matt. xvi. 18. I have not room for a lengthened exposition of this passage. But we may bring the matter to a short issue. These words cannot be so understood as to contradict other texts that are quite plain. For instances, in Matt. xx. 25–28, our Lord expressly forbids all assumption of authority on the part of any of the apostles. In Eph. ii. 20, the church is said to be built on the foundation of " the apostles and prophets,"* no pre-eminence being assigned to Peter above the others.
Peter was sent by the apostles to Antioch (Acts viii. 14); and, doubtless, the greater is not sent by the less. Paul
says he was not a whit behind him; and on one occasion he withstood him to the face. (2 Cor. xi. 5, and Gal. ii. 11.) Jesus conferred on all the apostles, without any distinction, the power of the keys. John xx. 22, 23, “ Receive ye the Holy Ghost; whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted them,” &c. This passage explains “I will give unto thee the keys,” &c. This gift of the keys is the privilege of all faithful pastors, and, without a
figure, means simply authority (of which keys were anciently the emblem) to preach the Gospel, which is a proclamation of pardon to the penitent, and to administer discipline in the
As to the Rock, it is sufficient to quote the explanation of St. Augustine. "Jesus," says he, “ said not, thou art the Rock, but thou art Peter, The Rock was CHRIST, whom Simon confessed." This interpretation, and one substantially the same, or at least equally at variance with the sense ascribed to the passage by the modern Church of Rome, have been supported, according to the Roman Catholic authors Du Pin and Calmet, by fifteen Popes, thirteen Roman saints, thirty-seven Fathers and Doctors, and four Councils, besides many modern Roman Catholic writers.t
Here, then, is a powerful array of authorities against the modern Roman Catholic interpretation, which is urged with such confidence by
185-190. † This interpretation is sanctioned by the General Councils of Nice. Constantinople, Basil, and Trent. Labbeus viii. 770–1268, and x. 529, and xvii. 692, 821, and xx. 332.
Canisius iv. 469. Among the authorities referred to in the text, I may mention, Popes-Celestin, Innocent, Pius, Felix, Gregory, John, Urban. Saints Hilary, Ambrose, Cyril, Basil, Cypriau, Jerome, Augusiine.
every superficial polemic. Now, dear Friend, you know that you are pledged by the creed of Pope Pius, Article 2, never to interpret Scripture “ otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers.” You perceive that a vast number of Popes and Fathers are on my side of this question. If you maintain from this pássage, that Peter is the rock on which the Church of Christ is built, you trample on the creed of your church; for, on that interpretation the Fathers are not unanimous.
But if you agree with me, that Christ, or faith in Christ; is the foundation on which the church is built, then, of course, you give up the point; and demonstrate, that the Church of Rome is, even on her own principles, incapable of defence; her boasted infallibility, resting on passages of Scripture, whose inspiration and exposition must be settled by private judgment, without her aid passages which cannot be explained in her favour, without violating her own imperatively enforced principle of interpretation !
That this plain refutation of the principal tenets of your church, may prove the means of your emancipation from its power, is the earnest prayer of
Your Faithful Friend.
MY DEAR FRIEND, The preceding summary of the arguments against the Church of Rome, will give you some idea of the reasons that induced me to leave that communion. I now return to my religious experience. I am free to confess that, for nearly twelve months after my recantation, I was but a nominal Protestant; by which I mean, that though fully convinced of the sound and Scriptural character of the Reformed faith, I was not converted to God. This language, I am aware, is scarcely intelligible to a Roman Catholic. You think that Christians are regenerated, or born again in baptism. You fancy that this rite removes both the guilt and pollution of original sin, and that, after that event, the individual is in a situation to work out his own salvation, and earn for himself eternal redemption.
We do not believe that the baptismal ceremony regenerates the soul. In apostolic times, it was administered only when faith in Christ had been professed, and when, by consequence, the soul had been justified and born again; for this change
always accompanies saving faith. What, then, is the use of baptism as administered to infants ?
It is intended to represent their being “ born in sin, and the children of wrath,” and to teach the necessity of their souls being washed in the blood of Jesus, “the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness;" and it is, also, a rite of initiation, by which Christian parents dedicate their children to Christ, as disciples in the school of the Gospel. If their being sprinkled with water implied that they were born of the Spirit, would there not be some indications of this change in the dispositions and conduct of children ? But, alas ! universal experience testifies that, notwithstanding the supposed grace of baptism and confirmation, they remain so powerfully influenced by the principles of depravity, by ignorance of God and aversion to his will, that the most vigilant parental oversight is too frequently incapable of preventing the outbreaking of evil. Pride, vanity, falsehood, obstinacy, impurity, selfishness, in a thousand forms, mark the character of the baptised youth of our land, with scarcely any exceptions. By a most mischievous euphemism, these things are indulgently denominated the harmless frailties of our nature; but this apologetic phraseology betrays a grievous.