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“ ordaining bishops and pastors, of deposing and suspending " them, finally, the power to dispense the goods of the church « both fpiritual and temporal ; which signification of pre“ eminent power and authority by the word keys, the scripture
exprefseth in many places.- Moreover, it signifieth, that men “ cannot come into heaven but by him, the keys fignifying also “ authority to open and shut, as it is said of Christ, Apoc. iii. 7, “ Who hath the key of David: He butteth, and no man openeth “ by which words we gather, that Peter's power is marvellous, “ to whom the keys, that is, the power to open and shut heaven " is given." All these powers the Papists contend, were bestowed on Peter, in the metaphorical promise of giving him the keys of the kingdom of heaven. But before this is admitted, they ought to fhew, by better proofs than they have hitherto prodụced, that these paramount extenqve powers were signified by the word, keys.
The only proofs, to which they appeal, are, the promise to Peter, What foever thou shalt bind on earth, &c. and the promise to the apostles in general, Whosoever fins je remit, are remitted, &c. But these promises are no certain evidence, that the high powers and prerogatives above mentioned, were conferred on Peter, under the name of the keys; because the
of binding and losing, and of remitting and retaining fons, easily admit of a different and more rational interpretation ; as shall be fhewed by and by.–Farther, that, by promising to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, together with the powers of binding and looling, and of remitting and retaining fons, Chțist did not confer on him. supreme and uncontrouled authority over his brethren apostles, and over the Catholic church, is clear from Christ's own words, Luke xxii. 24. There was also a frife among them, which of them fould be accounted the greateft. 25. And he said to them, the kings of the Gentiles exercise Lord/bip over them.--26. But yeshall not be so. But he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger ; and be that is chief;
and he that is chief, as he that serveth... Matt. xxii. 8. Be not ye called Rabbi, for one is your master, even Chrift, and all ye are brethren.-Christ having thus expressly forbidden any one of his apostles' to usurp authority over the rest; also having declared them all brethren, that is, equals in authority, is
it to be supposed, that, by promising to Peter the keys of the king-
These things confidered, may not the keys of the kingdom of heaven, promised to Peter, more reasonably signify his being up. pointed to open the gospel dispensation by preaching salvation to
all who should repent and believe, than of his being raised to supreme authority in the Catholic church, to rule it according to his own will? Especially as the proposed sense of the promise is agreeable to the fact, Acts ij. 14.-40. and is founded on Dan. ii. 44. where the erection of the Christian church is foretold under the idea of a kingdom which the God of heaven was to set up, and which was never to be destroyed. For the fame reasons, the power of binding and loofing, which was promised to Peter in common with the other apostles, Matt, xviii. 18, may be interpreted of his being inspired as an apostle, to declare infallibly the laws of the gospel, (see Harmony of the Gospels, Sect. 74. p. 317.) rather than of his being authorized to pronounce excommunications, anathematisms, degradations and other censures and penalties or penances, as the Rhemih tranflators of the New Testament affirm: which sentences are all ratified in heaven. In like manner, the power of remitting and retaining fins, which was promised to all the apostles, may more naturally be interpreted of their being enabled by inspiration to declare whose fins, according to the tenor of the gospel, are to be forgiven, and whose fins are not to be forgiven ; than to interpret it, as the Romanists do, of a power granted to their priests to pardon and abfolve finners, on their pere forming the penitential works, of praying, fasting, alms, and other penances of human invention: and, if these are not performed, to continue the finner under the guilt of his fins, though truly penitent, and to consign him at least to purgatory, till released by the efficacy of their prayers and masses. See James v. 14, 15, 16. notes.
4. In opposition to the high claims of the bishops of Rome as Peter's successors, I observe, that they cannot prove, by good historical evidence, Peter's having ever been a bishop of the church at Rome : confequently they cannot be his fucceffors in a see which he never filled. It is true, to prove that Peter was the firit bishop of the church at Rome, the following teftimonies from the fathers are appealed to by the Papists.-Irenæus, who was bishop of Lyons in Gaul, and who flourished about the year 173, tells us, “ that Linus was made bishop of Rome by Peter " and Paul, and after him Anacletus, and the third Clemens." Tertullian, who flourished about the year 200, saith, “ Clemens
“ was the first bishop of Rome after Peter.” See Fulke's note on Rom. xvi. 16. in his edition of the Rhenish New Testament. -Eusebius, who flourished about the year 315, in his E. H. B. 3. c. 2. without hinting that either Paul or Peter were bishops of Rome, thus writeth : “After the martyrdom of Paul and “ Peter, Linus first obtained the episcopate of the church of " the Romans. Of him, Paul writing to Timothy, makes s mention in the falutation in the end of the epistle, saying, “ Eubulus, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia salute thee." The fame Eufebius faith, Peter was the first bishop of Artioch. E. H. B. 3. c. 36. “ At the same time flourished Ig. “ natius, who is still highly honoured, being the second in the « succession of the church of Antioch after Peter." But in chap. 22. of the same book, Eusebius faith, “ Euodius having “ been the first bishop of Antioch, Ignatius succeeded him.”Jerome, who flourished about the year 392, faith, “ Peter sat at “ Rome 25 years, until the last year of Nero." If fo, Peter came to Rome in the second or third of Claudius, and from that time forth had his ordinary residence among the Christians in Rome, as their bishop, till his death. Yet the same Jerome in his book of illustrious men, chap. 16. calleth “ Ignatius the “ third bishop of the church of Antioch after the apostle Peter.” -Damasus, who was himself a bishop of Rome and contemporary with Jerome, faith, “ Peter came to Rome in the be“ ginning of Nero's reign, and sat there 25 years.” But as Nero reigned only 14 years, if the testimony of Damasus is to be credited, we must believe that Peter survived Nero eleven years, and was not put to death by him ; contrary to ancient tradition, which represents Paul and Peter as put to death at one time by Nero. - Origen, who flourished about the year 230, speaks of Peter as the bishop of Antioch; for in his fixth homily on Luke he thus expresses himself, “ I have observed it ri elegantly written in an epistle of a martyr, Ignatius second “ bishop of Antioch after Peter, &c.”—Lastly, according to Epiphanius, Peter and Paul were both of them bishops of Rome. See Fulke's note on Philip. iv. 3.
The reports of the ancients concerning Peter's being the first bishop of Rome, being so different and so inconsistent, it is a
proof that these reports were not founded on any certain tradition,