Imatges de pÓgina
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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

may 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; “ One 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 any subsequent circumstance recorded of him in the Epistles, except that he was at Antioch not

long

c) Acts, c. 15. v. 6, &c. (d) Gal. c. 2. x. 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 (i). That St. Peter should die by crucifixion had been foretold by Christ (k); and St. Peter himself alluded to that prediction (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

(8) Gal. c. 2. v. 11. (h) H. E. lib. 3. cap. 1.

(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, have either doubted or denied that St. Peter ever was at Rome. Vol. I,

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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 propagating his religion; and that this was really the case, the Acts of the Apostles sufficiently prove. Confidence and zeal form a conspicuous part of bis character; but he was sometimes deficient in firinness 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 (n). He was forward to acknowledge Jesus to be the Messiah (0), and declared hiinself 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),

and

(n) Matt. C. 14. V. 28, &c.

ro) Matt. c. 16. v. 16. Mark, c. 8. v. 29. Luke, c. 9. v.20 John, c. 6. v.68 & 69. (P) Mart. c. 26. v.35.

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

and by his timidity and dissimulation respecting the Gentile converts at Antioch he incurred the censure of the eager and resplute St. Paul (s). But while we lament this occasional want of steadiness and consistency in St. Peter, we should remember that his good qualities seem not to have been mixed with any other infirmity; and his voluntary acknowledgment to Christ of his being a sinful man, the bitter remorse which he felt upon the denial of his Master, and his submission to the reproof of St. Paul, justify us in concluding, that to his zeal he added humility, which are virtues rarely united in the same person.

II. This Epistle has always been considered as canonical ; and in proof of its genuineness we may observe, that it is referred to by Clement of Rome, Hermas, and Polycarp; that we are assured by Eusebius, that it was quoted by Papias; and that it is expressly mentioned by Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and most of the later fathers.

III. It is addressed “to the strangers scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." Great doubts have arisen, whether by strangers were meant Jewish or Gentile Christians,

or (s) Gal, c. 2, v. II.

or Christians of both denominations. As there is nothing in the Epistle itself to lead us to think that the Apostle intended it for any particular description of Christians, I consider it as addressed to the Christians in general of the above countries of Asia Minor, and shall only remark, that it is probable, that most of them had been converted from heathenisın (t). The word “ strangers, is used a second time in this Epistle, and it seems to intimate that true Christians should consider themselves as sojourners upon earth, and fix their hopes and prospects upon another world; and by being “scattered throughout Pontus and the other countries,” St. Peter only means that they lived at a distance from each other, and were but few in number, when compared with the idolaters and unbelievers among whom they lived.

IV. The Apostle wrote this Epistle from a place which he calls Babylon : “The church that is at Babylon saluteth you;” but it is very doubtful what place is meant by that name. Some commentators have thought that Babylon in Assyria, and others, that Babylon in Egypt, was intended, but there is no antient testimony what

ever

(t) Those who wish to see this question more fully discussed, may consult Benson, Lardner, Michaelis, and Macknight.

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