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excusable, in all views, this shame is: especially in all those, who wear the name, and do not wholly disclaim the faith, of a Christian. More words would be thrown away on those, who are insensible to such considerations. Or, if any
further remonstrance can be of use, if there be a motive left that can reach their case, it must be one, that alarms their fears, and shews the danger, the unspeakable hazard, to which they expose themselves by this miserable conduct. And, in the whole extent of God's word, there is not, in the nature of things there cannot be, a more awakening, a more terrible denunciation, than that of the text, which therefore I cannot do better than leave with you in its own proper form, as pronounced by our Lord himself - Whoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy Angels.
I say also unto thee, that thou art PETER, and
upon this rock I will build my church ; and. the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
way of giving a new name to an eminent person, more immediately concerned in any great transaction; a name, expressive of that transaction, and therefore proper to fix and perpetuate the memory of it; this custom, I say, was of known use in the ancient world. Thus, when God renewed his covenant with Abram, and engaged to multiply him exceedingly, the name of this patriarch was
changed to Abraham ; which name, in the Hebrew language, signifies the father of a. great multitude a : and, for a like reason, the patriarch Jacob took the name of Israel; to omit many other instances of this usage, which occur in the sacred scriptures.
Just so, when one of the Apostles, known before by the name of Simon, had made a memorable confession of his Master's being the Christ, the son of the living God, i, e, the redeemer, the prince of Israel, the Messiah foretold, our blessed Lord, to give weight and emphasis to this confession, confers a new name upon him.. For he answered, and unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona ; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven : That is, no man hath revealed this great truth to thee, nor has any interest of man, any thing, indeed, but the spirit of God, influencing thy impartial and well-disposed mind, prompted thee to entertain and avow it thus heartily and publicly, (the proofs of it not being, at present, so strong, as they hereafter shall be): Therefore, to express my approbation of this great testimony to a truth, which is the fundamental
& Gen, xvii. 5.
b Gen. xxxii. 28.
article of my religion, and, at the same time, to signify to thee the honour, with which I mean to reward thee for it, I further say unto thee, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The name, Peter, signifying a rock in the Greek language, implies, we see, the immoveable truth of the confession, here made, on which the Christian religion was to be built ; and the immoveable firmness, too, of the Confessor, who should have a share, with the other Apostles, in supporting the whole fabric, and be himself, in point of time, the first stone, on which the glorious superstructure was to be made.
It follows -- and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it that is, Death, or Destruction (for that, only, the oriental phrase
the gates of hell - here signifies c) shall
e 'Agns, or death (see Grotius in loc.] is here personized : and, the gates of cities, being anciently the places of counsel and judgment, as well as their chief defence and strength, hence the gates of death are the power
policy, which this person should employ to accomplish his ends : which is, in other words, to say, that those ends, or destruction, should by no means be effected,
never prevail against this church, being founded on thee, and the testimony, made by thee, as on a rock of ages, which shall never give way, or be removed.
We see, then, the full meaning of this famous text, which contains, in effect, TWO prophecies : one, respecting the foundation of the Christian church, and (so far as the Apostle Peter was personally concerned in the prediction) then verified, when Peter laid the first stone of this august building in the converts made by him both among the Jews d and Gentiles e : the OTHER prophecy, respecting the perpetuity of this church; which the divine Providence would, in no future age of the world, permit to be destroyed.
So that, not the supremacy of Peter over the rest of the Apostles (as the church of Rome vainly pretends), but the priority of his claim, in point of time, to signal services in the conversion of mankind, is expressed in this memorable promise made to Peter - on this rock will I build my church : and, for the second assurance, here given, and which, to so zealous a master-builder, as our Apostle, must have
d Acts ii. 14.
• Acts x and xv. n.