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person of the apostle Peter, and his successors commonly so called the Roman, pontiffs ; for which no authority can be found in Scripture. As to Peter, it does not appear that any preference was given to him over the other apostles, either with regard to his mission, Matt. x. l. or to any special command assigned to him, John xx. 21, 22. or to any authority reposed in him for the deciding of controversies, Acts xv. 2, 6, 7, 19, 23, 25. or to his knowledge of the faith, at least to his constancy in professing it, since he fell grievously in his denial of Christ, and was afterwards reprehensible, though in a less degree, in the matter for which he was reproved by Paul, Gal. ii. 11. He was also an elder like the others, 1 Pet. v. 1. neither is he promised any distinction of honours hereafter, Matt. xix. 28. nor is superiority of any kind attributed to him rather than to James, or John, or Paul and Barnabas, Gal, îi. 9. Nay, he was the apostle of the circumcision only, as was Paul of the Gentiles, v. 8, y. who was “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles,” 2 Cor. xi. 5. He was likewise sent as the colleague of John into Samaria, Acts viii. 14. and gave an account of his apostleship to those who contended with him, .xi. 2. Lastly, the church is not said to be built upon the foundation of Peter alone, but of the apostles, Eph. ii. 20. Rev. xxi. 14, Even supposing, however, that it were otherwise, how can a foundation have any succession ? Nor does the celebrated text, Matt. xvi. 18, 19, which is perverted by the Pope to form the charter of his authority, confer any
distinction on Peter beyond what is enjoyed by other professors of the same faith. For inasmuch as many others confessed no less explicitly than Peter that Christ was the Son of God (as is clear from the narrative of the evangelists), the answer of Christ is not, upon thee Peter, but upon this rock I will build my church, that is, upon this faith which thou hast in common with other believers, not upon thee as an individual ;6
5 • All Protestants hold that Christ in his church hath left no vicegerent of his power; but himself, without deputy, is the only head thereof governing it from heaven : how then can any Christian man derive his kingship from Christ, but with worse usurpation than the pope his headship over the church ? since Christ not only hath not left the least shadow of a command for any such vicegerence for him in the state, as the pope pretends for his in the church- Ready Way to establish a Free Commonwealth. Prose Works, II. 120.
6 Milton follows the interpretation of Chrysostom, Theodoret, Hilarius, &c., among the fathers ; of Gregory the Great and Felix among the popes
seeing that, in the personal sense of the word, the true rock is Christ, 1 Cor. x. 4. nor is there any other foundation, ni. 11. whence also faith in Christ is called the foundation, Jude 20. “building up yourselves on your most holy faith ;” and the same term is applied to the apostles as the original teachers of that faith, though not to the exclusion of others, Eph. ii. 20. “ye are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." Nor is it to Peter exclusively that the keys of the kingdom of heaven are committed," inasmuch as the power of the keys, as it is called, or the right of binding and loosing, is not entrusted to him alone, Matt. xviii. 18, 19, “whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven,” &c. John xx. 23. “whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them." Nor does the passage of St. John, xx. 15, &c. imply that the office of feeding the flock of Christ was committed to Peter in any higher sense than to the others; the meaning of
repetition is that he who had fallen by denying his master thrice, is here, by a confession as often repeated, restored to the place from whence he fell; and that he who in his overweening self-confidence had maintained that he loved Christ more than all the rest, is at once reminded of the event by which his weakness had been manifested, and admonished that if he really loved Christ more thau the other disciples, he should shew his love by a greater assiduity in feeding Christ's flock, and more particularly his lambs ; being in effect a repetition of the charge he had shortly before received, Luke xxii. 32. “when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” themselves. Of the moderns, Beza, Lightfoot, &c., have adopted the same opinion. On the other side are Tertullian. Ambrose, Basil, Whitby, Pere Simon, Grotius, &c. See Barrow On the Pope's Supremacy; Hammond and Whitby on Matt. x. 2.
7 Milton elsewhere, to ridicule the notion that Peter and his successors are especially entrusted with the keys of heaven, places him at the “wicket,' while • embryos and idiots, eremites and friars, white, black and gray, with all their trumpery,' are “blown transverse' into the paradise of fools.
And now Saint Peter at heaven's wicket seems
To wait them with his keys-, Paradise Lost, III. 481.
Last came and last did go
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For to feed the sheep of Christ, that is to teach all nations, was the common office of all the apostles. Matt. xxviii. 19.
Granting, however, to Peter all that is claimed for him, what proof have we that the same privileges are continued to his successors? or that these successors are the Roman pontiffs ?
THE VISIBLE CHURCH is either UNIVERSAL or PARTICULAR.
THE UNIVERSAL VISIBLE CHURCH IS THE WHOLE MULTITUDE OF THOSE WHO ARE CALLED IN EVERY PART OF THE WORLD, AND WHO OPENLY WORSHIP GOD THE FATHER THROUGH CHRIST IN ANY PLACE WHATEVER, EITHER INDIVIDUALLY, OR IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHERS. IN ANY
WHATEVER. John iv. 21. “the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.” 1 Cor. i. 2. “ with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.”
EITHER INDIVIDUALLY, &c. for although it is the duty of believers to join themselves, if possible, to a church duly constituted, Heb. x. 25. “not forsaking the assembling of our
8 This is an important passage, because it discloses Milton's real views upon a point on which his opinions have been represented in a more unfavourable light than they seem to have deserved. Bishop Newton remarks that in the latter part of his life he was not a professed member of any particular sect of Christians; he frequented no public worship, nor used any religious rite in his family. Whether so many different forms of worship as he had seen had made him indifferent to all forms; or whether he thought that all Christians had in some things corrupted the purity and simplicity of the gospel ; or whether he disliked their endless and uncharitable disputes, and that love of dominion and inclination to persecution which he said was a piece of popery inseparable from all churches; or whether he believed that a man might be a good Christian without joining in any communion; or whether he did not look upon himself as inspired, as wrapt up in God, and above all forms and ceremonies, it is not easy to determine : to his own master he standeth or falleth : but if he was of any denomination, he was a sort of Quietist, and was full of the interior of religion, though he so little regarded the exterior.' The note of Dr. Hawkins on this passage, (Hawkins's Edition of Milton's Poetical Works, Vol. I. p. 101.) deserves to be mentioned as containing a very candid and judicious estimate of Milton's character in regard to the point in question. Many parts of the present treatise bear a remarkable testimony to the acuteness with which Dr. Hawkins has detected some of the errors of Milton's religious system, by the unprejudiced spirit in which he has examined the imperfect materials afforded him in the printed works. He observes as follows on Milton's alleged disuse of public worship,
selves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one
the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and
2 Cor. i. 1. “ unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia.”
The universal church consists of MINISTERS and PEOPLE.9 i Cor. iii. 9. “we are labourers together with God; ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” 2 Cor. iv. 5.“ selves your servants for Jesus' sake. Matt. xx. 25-28. “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” Rom. x. 14. “how shall they hear without a preacher ?”
MINISTERS are PERSONS APPOINTED BY DIVINE COMMISSION TO PERFORM VARIOUS OFFICES IN THE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
BY DIVINE COMMISSION. Jer. xxiii. 21. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran ; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” Matt. xxviii. 19, 20. “go ye therefore, and teacli all nations." Rom. x. 15. “how shall they preach, except they be sent ?": 1 Cor. i. 1. “I came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.” v. 4.“my speech and my preaching was not withi enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” v. 13. “which things
which is asserted on the authority of Toland. “The reproach that has been thrown on him of frequenting no place of worship in his latter days, should be received, as Dr. Symmons observes, with some caution. His blindness and other infinities might be in part his excuse : and it is certain that his daily employments were always ushered in by devout meditation and study of the Scriptures.
9 • Let wo man cavil, but take the church of God as meaning the whole consistence of orders and members, as St. Paul's epistles express.' Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, II. 375.
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also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teachetli, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth ; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Tim. iv. 6. “if thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”
VARIOUS OFFICES. 1 Cor. xii. 28. “God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” Acts xx. 20, 21. “I have kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Tim. iv. 2. “ preach the word, be instant in season, out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine." 2 Pet. i. 12. “I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”
Ministerial labours are of no efficacy in themselves, independently of divine grace. 1 Cor. iii. 7. “neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watercth, but God that giveth the increase.” A reward, however, is laid up for such as are faithful in the ministry. Isai. xlix. 4. “then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain ; yet surely my judgement is with Jehovah, and my work with my God." Dan. xii. 3. “they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever.”
THE MINISTERS of the universal church are either EXTRAORDINARY or ORDINARY. 1 Cor. xii. 28. as above. Eph. iv. 11–13. “he gave some, apostles ; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists ; and some, pastors and teachers ; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ ; till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God-3" where it is observable that pastors and teachers are used synonymously; for the apostle does not say, he gave some, pastors, some, teachers, but merely adds the second or proper title as an explanation of the figurative term ; whereby is