Imatges de pÓgina
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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 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 (n). 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 (q). 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.

(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. (r) John, c. 18. v. 10.

(q) Matt, c. 26. v.69, &c.

and by his timidity and dissimulation respecting the Gentile converts at Antioch he incurred the censure of the eager and resolute 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,

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

or

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 heathenism (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.

ever of St. Peter having been in either of those countries. At the same time it must be acknowledged, that there is so long an interval, in which we have no account of St. Peter, that it is very possible he might have travelled both into Assyria and Egypt. There was also a third Babylon, namely, in Seleucia, whence Beausobre and L'Enfant think it most probable that this Epistle was written, because that city abounded with Jews; but this reason does not appear to me sufficient to warrant such a conclusion. Upon the whole it may be best to accede to the more general opinion, that Babylon is here used figuratively for Rome; and more especially since Eusebius, the oldest author extant who mentions this subject, says, that in his time it was thought that this Epistle was written from Rome (u). It is certain that St. John used Babylon figuratively for Rome in the Revelation. Some few persons have been inclined to think, that St. Peter wrote this Epistle from Jerusalem,

V. If we be right in considering this Epistle as written from Rome, we may place its date about the year 64; since there is no reason to believe that Peter went to Rome till after Paul's release

(u) H. E. lib. 2. cap. 15.

release from imprisonment in that city, in the year 63.

VI. THE general design of this Epistle is to exhort to practical virtue, to a quiet and blameless life, and to patience and fortitude under distresses and persecutions. St. Peter, after his salutation, begins with returning thanks to God for the blessing of the gospel dispensation, which, he observes, had been distinctly foretold by the prophets; he next exhorts his Christian brethren to holiness and purity; and represents the passion of Christ as pre-ordained before the foundation of the world, and its benefits as extending to all eternity (a); he proceeds to recommend meekness, self-government, and obedience to magistrates; he enforces the duties of servants (y), of wives, and husbands; he enjoins harmony, compassion, courtesy, a rational knowledge of the Christian faith, and a steady adherence to it under trials and temptations (z); from a consideration of the last judgment, he inculcates sobriety, devotion, and universal benevolence; and encou❤ rages the Christians to bear afflictions with resignation and cheerfulness (a); and in the last chapter he gives directions for the conduct of persons

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