Зображення сторінки

feed his sheep (9). When Christ put any question to the Apostles at large, Peter always gave the answer; and he frequently addressed our Saviour when the other disciples were silent; as when he rebuked hiin for speaking of his own sufferings; when he inquired how often a brother might offend and be forgiven; and when he objected to his washing his feet. It was Peter who proposed that another apostle should be chosen in the room of Judas Iscariot (r); who preached to the multitude, when they were astonished at the gift of tongues communicated by the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost (s); who questioned Ananias and Sapphira concerning the price of their land, and in a miraculous manner punished their falsehood with instant death (t); and who spoke in the name of the apostles, when they were apprehended and accused by the Sanhedrim (u). Through Peter and John, the Samaritan believers received the Holy Ghost (.r); but it was Peter alone, who, by the immediate command of God himself, admitted Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, into the Christian faith (y); and his account of the circumstances attending that important event

: convinced (9) Jolin, C. 21. v. 15, &c. (r) Acts, c. 1, v. 15. (s) Acts, c. 2. v. 14, &c. (t) Acts, c. 5. v.1. (u) Acts, c. 5. V. 29. (x) Acts, c. 8. v. 14. (y) Acts; C. 10. V. I, &c. ,

convinced the apostles and other disciples, that to the Gentiles also God had granted repentance unto life (2).” And thus, as St. Peter had been the first apostle who preached to the Jews immediately after the descent of the Holy Ghost, so, about eight years afterwards, he was also the first who preached to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius at Cæsarea. By these means he may be said to have founded the Universal Church of Christ; and this is supposed to have been the meaning of our Lord's words, “ Upon this rock will I build my Church, and I will give thee the keys of Heaven;" for by being the first person who explained the Gospel both to Jews and Gentiles after the ascension of our Saviour, he, as it were, opened the doors of heaven to all mankind. He seems to have performed more miracles than any other of the apostles, for the people“ brought their sick for the purpose of having his shadow pass over them (a).” When he was imprisoned by Herod Agrippa, prayer was made for him without ceasing by the Church, and he was miraculously delivered out of prison by an angel, though Herod had been permitted to put James the Great to death (b). The speech of Peter, at the council of Jerusalem, so



(z) Acts, c. 11. v, 18.
(a) Acts, c. 5. v. 15.

(b) Acts, c. 12 v. 1, &c.

often mentioned, is recorded, but of no other person except of James the Less, bishop of Jerusalem (c); and St. Paul tells us, that to St. Peter was committed the Gospel of the circumcision (d), whence he is called the apostle of the Jews, as St. Paul is called the apostle of the Gentiles. And lastly, in all the catalogues of the Apostles, and whenever be is mentioned in conjunction with others, in the Gospels or Acts, the name of Peter stands first (e). Though these facts


lead us to consider Peter as the chief, or the most distinguished, of the twelve Apostles, yet they by no means prove that he had any superior dignity or jurisdiction over the rest; “ Onc is your master, even Christ; but all ye are brethren (f)."

• No mention is made of Peter in the Acts, after the council at Jerusalem; nor is


subsequent circumstance recorded of him in the Epistles, except that he was at Antioch not




(c) Acts, c. 15. v. 6, &c. (d) Gal. c. 2. v. 7.

(e) There is a variety in the order in which the names of the other apostles are mentioned; and in the Epistles, namely, Gal. c. 2. v. 9, there is a single instance of St. Peter's name not standing first; “ And when James, Cephas, and John,” &c. James was probably placed first by St. Paul upon this occasion, because he was bishop of Jerusalem.

(f) Matr. c. 23. v. 8.

long afterwards (g). The only authentic account, which we have of the remaining part of his life, is from Origen, as quoted by Eusebius (h), who says in general terms, that Peter is supposed to have preached to the Jews of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia; and that at length, coming to Rome, he was crucified with his head downwards, himself having desired that it might be in that manner (0). That St. Peter should die by crucifixion had been foretold by Christ (k); and St. Peter himself alluded to that predietion (1). All antient writers (m) concur in asserting that St. Peter suffered martyrdom at Rome, in the first persecution of the Christians in the reign of Nero, probably in the year 65; but at what time he went thither, and whether this was his first visit to that city, is not certainly known. -As he is not mentioned in any of St. Paul's Epistles written from Rome, we conclude that he was not there during St. Paul's first impri

sonment (g) Gal. Ć. 2. v. 11. . (h) H. E. lib. 3. cap. I.

(i) Ambrose says, that St. Peter made this request from a sense of humility, as not thinking himself worthy to die in the same manner his divine Master had died.

(k) John, c.21. v. 18. (1) 2 Pet. c. 1. v. 14.

(m) And yet the learned moderns Scaliger, Salmasius, Spanheim, Bower, and Semler, liave either doubted or denied that St. Peter ever was at Rome. Vol. I,


sonment in that city; and upon the whole it seems probable, as Lardner thinks, that St, Peter did not go to Rome till the year 63 or 64...

As John was the Apostle who was favoured with the greatest share of our Saviour's affection, so Peter seems to have been considered by him as the Apostle whose disposition would lead him to be the most active and instrumental in propa-, gating his religion; and that this was really the case, the Acts of the Apostles sufficiently prove. Confidence and zeal form a conspicuous part of his character; but he was sometimes deficient in firmness and resolution. He had the faith to walk upon the water to his divine Master; but when the sea grew boisterous, his faith deserted him, and he became afraid (12). He was forward to acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah (0), and declared himself ready to die in that profession (p); and yet, soon after, he thrice denied, and with oaths, that he knew any thing of Jesus (9). The warmth of his temper led him to cut off the ear of the high priest's servant (r),


(n) Matt. c. 14. v. 28, &c.

(0) Matt. c. 16. v. 16. Mark, c. 8. v. 29. Luke, c.9. V. 20 John, c. 6. v.68 & 69.

(P) Matt. c. 26. v.35. (9) Matt. c. 26. v. 69, &c. (r) John, c. 18. v, 10.

« НазадПродовжити »