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him from Gop, but what he received from CHRIST
As Peter was the first apostle that was called to the ministry, and also the first to confess the divinity of CHRIST, he was the properest person to begin the conversion of the Jews and Gentiles, in order to make a congregation of Christians; and our LORD called him a rock, in allusion to the name he had given him when he first became his follower, expressive of his character. To encourage Peter to exert his natural intrepidity in the propagation of the Gospel our LORD assured him, that the church, which he himself should ild, should remain to the end of the world, in spite of all the oppo. sition that would be made to it by the powers of darkness, who would stir up the wicked to attempt its over. throw. He likewise promised, that he would give to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, &c." by which is meant, that he should have the privilege of opening and shutting; or, in other words, of admitting, or refusing to admit, men, as they were qualified, or not qualified, to be members of the kingdom of CHRIST here, in order to their future admission into the divine presence hereafter. This power is explained by the words which immediately follow, whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven. Or, heaven shall be opened to all whom you admit as members of the kingdom of heaven on earth; and the condition promised to all who are received, shall be confirmed and established above. This condition is the remission of sins committed before the time of conversion to Christianity, promised by CHRIST to all who should acknowledge him for their LORD, and yield obedience to his com
See a Sermon by Dr. Gregory Sharpe.
mands. Our SAVIOUR afterwards gave the same power of remitting sins to the other Apostles; yet the Roman Catholics lay hold of this text to maintain the Pope's supremacy. They pretend, that the particular church which Peter established was to remain to the end of the world, and that his successors were to have the supreme command over all societies of Christians, wheresoever dispersed; that he fixed this church at Rome, where it has, they say, continued ever since. But we will not spend time in confuting such absurd doctrine, as it is to be hoped those who have the Scriptures open to them will not be drawn into a communion so opposite to the spirit of true Christianity.
We will at present recal our attention to Peter's confession of faith, which received the public approbation of our LORD from whence we learn, that the acknowledging of CHRIST as the Son of God, is a necessary article of belief to all Christians. Let us, therefore, cherish the same opinion of our blessed LORD as Peter 'did, and honour him accordingly.
Our SAVIOUR, having confirmed his Apostles in the truth, commanded them not to publish to the world that he was the MESSIAH; because he knew that it would be represented by the Jews to the Romans, as a claim 'to the soverignty of Judea, and as inconsistent with the rights of Cæsar."
JESUS BEGINS TO FORETEL HIS SUFFERINGS.
From Matthew, Chap. xvi.-Mark, viii.
FROM that time forth began JESUS to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer
many things of the elders, and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, LORD: this shall not be unto thee.
But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of GoD, but those that be of men.
And when he had called the people unto him, with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his eross, and follow me.
For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, shall find it.
For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels: and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
Our SAVIOUR instructed his disciples by degrees. First he taught them, that he was the MESSIAH foretold
by the Prophets; next that he was the Son of God; he then informed them plainly of his approaching sufferings, of which he had formerly given only some obscure hints. Our LORD mentioned the very place where he should suffer, and the persons by whom he should suffer; also the happy issue of his sufferings; that, notwithstanding his human nature should submit to the malice of the chief priests and elders, he should rise from the dead, and triumph over his enemies. Our LORD foretold his sufferings, as a proof that he knew all future events, and that he voluntarily undertook what divine justice required for the salvation of mankind; also to rectify the mistakes of such as should expect him, as the MESSIAH, to endeavour to obtain au. thority and dignity in the world like earthly princes; and to shew, that the chief priests and elders, who ought, from their situation, to have been the chief supporters of the MESSIAH's kingdom, would be the greatest enemies to it.
The zealous disposition of Peter sometimes betrayed him into error; this was the case in the present instance; for he presumed to rebuke his Master, which occasioned our LORD to reprove him with unusual severity, as an adversary to his doctrine, acting the part of Satan, rather than that of a friend; endeavouring to obstruct the great end of his coming into the world; and losing his zea for the divine glory, and the salvation of souls, in a mean solicitude for his temporal life, and the grandeur of an earthly kingdom. Our LORD then called the rest of his followers unto him, and informed them, that they must not expect any worldly advantage from adhering to him, but, on the contrary, resolve to submit willingly to whatsoever trials it should please GoD to expose them to for his sake; declaring that those who, to
avoid persecution, should deny him, should lose their lives; whilst those who patiently endured persecution, and resolved to part with life rather than deny him, should be preserved from death; and, not only so, but the former would incur the penalty of damnation, whilst the latter would secure eternal life in heaven.
The first professors of Christianity were exposed to the severest trials and sufferings; but penetrated with gratitude for past favours, and animated with the delightful hope that they should be confessed by CHRIST in the presence of his FATHER and the holy Angels, at that awful day, when he should come in his glory to judge the world, they cheerfully sacrificed every other interest to the view of eternal felicity. Let us endeavour to imitate those true disciples as far as circumstances require, and stedfastly resolve to honour our blessed LORD, who was willing to do and suffer so much for our sakes, without any regard to the ridicule of wicked persons, whatever pretences they may make to superior learning and refinement.
In the last verse of this Section, our LORD is supposed to allude to the long life of St. John, who lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem.
OUR LORD'S TRANSFIGURATION.
From Matthew, Chap. xvii.-Luke, ix.—Mark, ix.
AND after six days, JESUS taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, to pray.
And as he prayed he was transfigured before them,