Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Julian Pe- 11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Antioch.
riod, 4756. Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel,
Vulgarfra,
43,

and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from
all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to
the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname
was Mark; where many were gathered together, pray-
ing.

13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

14 And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.

16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

17 But he beckoning unto them with the hand, to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go, shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place '.

sometimes assumed the appearance of any particular individual,
and spake when thus disguised with the same tone by which
that individual would be recognized. This superstition is well
described by Homor-

'Αλλα Ποσειδάων-
Εισάμενος Κάλχαντι δέμας και άτειρέα φωνην. .

Il. ú. 81. et Odyss. . 105.
See also Schoetgep in loc.
J: We may be permitted to express our regret, that the evan-
gelical narrative has not bere given us the slightest allusion to
the place where St. Peter secreted bimself from his persecutors.
The word in the original is of the most indefinite kind. Dr.
Lardner is of opinion that it refers only to some one of the
houses in Jerusalem, or an adjacent village or town, and that
the apostle soon returned to the city upon the death of Herod
Agrippa, which took place at the end of the year. Some com-
mentators have been of opinion that he went to Antioch, otbers
to Rome. Dr. Lardoer observes, that there is no good founda-
tion for either of these opinions. That there is any foundation
for the former I am not prepared to say. The interview be-
tween St. Peter and St. Paul at Antioch, which is mentioned
Gal. ii. 11-16. occurred some time after this, and after the
council at Jerusalem. That St. Peter took refuge at Rome
appears to me the most probable.

The silence of Scripture leaves us to the evidence of the
fathers. With respect to this conclusion, that St. Peter wont
to Rome; and the jealousy of protestants on this point, because
the Romanists would establish upon this fact, the alleged su-
premacy of St. Peter, Dr. Lardner justly remarks, it is not
for our bonour, or our interest, either as Christians or Pro-
testants, to deny the truth of events, ascertained by early and
well-attested tradition. If others make an ill use of facta, we

AN ANGEL DELIVERS ST. PETER-CHAP. X.

143

Jalian Pe- 18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir Antioch. riod, 4756. Vulgar&ra,

the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

among 43.

are not accountable for it. While it appears to me not impro-
bable that he took refuge from the Herodian persecution with
some of the friends of Cornelius, there is no evidence that he
founded the Church at Rome, nor even addressed himself to the
Gentiles in that city. He would have considered himself guilty
of a violation of the law of God, if he had now done so. It was
with the utmost difficulty St. Peter could be convinced, even by
a vision from above, that the kingdom of heaven was to be open
to the proselyted Gentiles; much less can it be believed that he
would preach at this period to the idolatrous citizens of Rome.
The language of St. Paul, in bis Epistle to the Romans, which
was written many years after this time, sufficiently proves that
no Church was founded at Rome till the visit of St. Paul to that
city. The stay of St. Peter was probably very short, and con-
tinued only during the persecution.

The Church of Rome, says a learned prelate of our own day,
was established as a Christian society, during St. Paul's first
visit, by the communication of the spiritual gift, which he inti-
mates. It is evident that no otber of the apostles bad any
share in this first establishment but St. Paul; whatever may be
said of St. Peter's episcopacy of twenty-five years. For the
epistle to the Romans appears to have beeu written òot long
before the apostle's first visit. And at that time bis language to
them certainly implies that no other apostle bad been there
before bim : « Yea, so have I strived to preach the Gospel, not
where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another
man's foundation (a)," (chap. xv. 20.)

St. Peter had fulfilled the prediction of our Lord, that he should open tbe kingdom of heaven to the Gentiles, when he preached to Cornelius and his family. The Roman centurion had been now admitted into the Christian Church; he was probably one of those by wbom prayer was made without ceasing for St. Peter's liberation, and we may justly conclude tbat be held this apostle in the highest veneration. Though Cornelius had not the power to relcase St. Peter from prison, (the Jews being very jealous of the interference of the Romans in all matters connected with religion,) it is not unlikely that more effectual protection could be afforded by a Roman in a case of persecution, than by any of the suffering Church. It is certain that the Romans had great influence at this time ; for we read that when Herod was enraged with the people of Tyre, their embassy made Blastus, the king's chamberlain, their friend. Blastus was a Roman. The Romans did not hesitate to engage in the service of the tributary kings, and sovereign dependent of the empire(6). It is not improbable, therefore, that the apostle, when he went to another place from the house of the ·mother of Mark, would take refuge among some of the Gentile converts; and, as the indignation of Herod was so great, that he condemned the soldiers to death from whom Peter had escaped, it was but natural to apprebend that the apostle would soon be condemned to a similar fate. None of the Jews would sheltor him, as they took part with Herod, against the infant Church. Under these circumstances, it appears not unlikely that the Gentile converts would provide for his effectual safety, by sending him among some of their own friends at Rome, who were cognizant in the real history of the extraordinary events that had taken place in Judea. The same evidence which induces me to come to this conclu. sion, compels me to believe also, that St. Peter took with him to Rome the writer of the second Gospel, which bears so much

43.

Julian Pe- 19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found Antioch.
riod, 4756.
Vulgar Æra,

internal as well as external evidence, that it was addressed to
Roman converts. We road (Acts xii, 12.) that when St. Peter
went from prison be proceeded to the house of Mary the mother
of Mark. He staid ihere but a short time, and it is not, I
think, improbable that St. Mark accompanied him, to ai m
in case of danger.

It will, however, be necessary to examine the hypothesis of
Dr. Lardner, on the other side of the question, that the apos.
tles did not leave Judoa till after the apostolic council.

His first argument is derived from the fact that all the apos. tles were present at the council of Jerusalem : and he concludes that they could not bave been to other countries before that time, from the total want of evidence on the subject.

It may however be answered, that no argument can be derived from the silence of the inspired or Heathen writers. We ackuowledge the apostles to have been present, in all probability, at the council of Jerusalem; the question is, whether they did not leave Jerusalem between the years 44, when the Herodian persecution was raging, and the year 49 or 50, when the council was held. Peter was well acquainted with the persecuting and cruel spirit of Herod-he had seen James the brother of John killed with the sword-he was bimself apprebended and imprisoned, and while he remained in the city he continued exposed to the most imminent danger. Was it pot, under these circumstances, more probable that the apostle should absent himself from Jerusalem during the reign of this monarch, and that he did not return to his own country till his deatb, when Judea was governed by the Roman procurators. Biscoe has well shewn, that the Heathens protected the Christians in the exercise of their religion, against the fury of the Jews; and we read many things in the Acts of the Apostles which prove the same point.

Dr. Lardner then proceeds to observe, I." That it was fit and proper, and even expedient, that the apostles should stay a good while in Judea, to assert and confirm the truth of Christ's resurrection, by teaching, and by miraculous works, and do their utmost to bring the Jewish people to faith in Jesus as the Christ.

2. “As this was fit, it is likely that they had received some command from Christ himself, or some direction from the Holy Ghost, to stay thus long in Judea.

3. “There were considerations that would incline them to it, and induce them to do what was fit to be done, and was agreeable to the mind of Christ. One was the difficulty of preaching the Gospel in foreign countries. This would induce them to stay in Judea, till the circumstances of things facilitated their farther progress, or called them to it. Another thing was their affection for the Jewish people, their countrymen, especially those of Judea, with whom they had been brought up, and among whom they dwelt, together with a persuasion of the great value of the blessing of the Gospel.

“This last consideration, I apprehend, would induce them to Jabour in Judea, with earnest desires, and some bopes, of bringing all, or however many, to faith in Jesus. This influenced Paul also to a great degree, and for a good while, Nor was he without hopes of persuading his brethren and countrymen to what appeared to himself very certain and very evident. So be says in his speech to the people at Jerusalem, Acts xxii. 17--20. He assures them, that whilst he was worshipping at

THE KEEPERS ARE PUT TO DEATH-CHAP. X.

145

[ocr errors]

Julian Pe- him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that Jerusalem*.
riod, 4756. they should be put to death.
Vulgar Æra,
about 43.

Jerusalem, in the temple, he had a trance, or extasy : that he
there saw Christ, who said to him, Make baste, and get thee
quickly out of Jerusalem, for they will not receive thy testi-
mony concerning me. Paul pleaded, that they must needs pay
a regard to his testimony, who was well known to have been for
some while very zealous in opposing his followers, and was now
convinced and persuaded. But the Lord said unto him,
Depart, for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles. This
trance, or vision, seems to have happened in the year 44, after
that Paul had preached at Antioch with great success among
the Gentiles. Nevertheless, be bad an earnest desire to make one
attempt more among the Jews of Judea, where was the body of
that people, and if they could have been persuaded, many
abroad would follow their example. And it required an express
and repeated order from Jesus Christ, in vision, to induce him
to lay aside that design, and to proceed to preach to the Gen-
tiles in remote parts."

To all which it may be replied, Ist. That the apostles had
now continued in Jerusalen till a Christian Church was esta-
blished--the Gospel had been preached to the Jews, and con-
firmed by miracle, and the most undeniable evidence; but the
Jews persisted in the rejection of their Messiah.

2. To the second, the command of Christ to his apostles to continue at Jerusalem is not recorded : and even had it been given, it would prove only that the appointed time had expired.

3. The Herodian persecution prevented the apostles from following their own plans; and the Jews themselves, by their unrelenting bitterness, took away from them the power of accomplisbing their first great object, that of offering salvation to and converting, their own countrymen, and their very lives depended upon flight. They could find no difficulty in preaching The Gospel to other countries, because they were endued with the gift of tongues for this express purpose; in addition to which, they would have been admitted into the Jewish syna. gogues in every country.

Ťbe conversion of Cornelius proves that the predicted time for the admission of the Gentiles had arrived; the Church was established, and the Jews had beheld the apostolic miracles ; they had been appealed to in vain, and there was now no necessity for the longer continuance of the apostles at Jerusalem, who were consequently instructed by a vision, that the time had come when they were to preach to the Gentiles.

Dr. Lardner's last argument is quite extraordinary. He be. lieves that the apostles were under no necessity of leaving Jerusalem during the Herodian persecution, because they were under miraculous protection. He forgets that James, one of the twelve, had been killed already: and it seems to me, that St. Peter was miraculously released from prison, that he might escape the same fate, by following the example of the rest of his brethren, and seeking safety in flight,

This opinion is confirmed by the little evidence remaining to
us in ecclesiastical bistory. The general conclusion to which
we are led by the fathers, is, that the apostles left Jerusalem
twelve years after the ascension of our Lord. He ascended
A.D. 29. The twelfth year therefore brings us to the beginning

* For Antioch, read Jerusalem in the margin, through the former
part of this section.
VOL. 11.

L

Julian Pe. of the reign of Claudius ; the very period when Herod Agrippa Jerusalem.
riod, 4756. took possession of the kingdom of Judea. He lost no time in
Valgarðra, giving proofs of his zealous Judaism, and we may believe that
about 43. he would lose no limo in demonstrating his sincerity, by renew.

ing the persccution; in the course of which the apostles were
obliged to leave Jerusalem.

Clement of Alexandria (b), about 194, qnotes a work, entitled
the Preaching of St. Peter. “ The Lord said to his apostles, if
any Israelite will repent, and believe in God tbrough my name,
his sins shall be forgiven. After twelve years go ye out into all
the world, that none may say, We have not heard (c).”

Eusebius mentions that Apollonius, (undoubtedly in part cotemporary with Clement, and placed by Cave at the year 192by Lardner at 211, as near the time of his writing against the Mon. tanists,) relates, as from tradition, that our Saviour commanded his apostles not to depart from Jerusalem for the space of twelve years. The same historian, in his Ecclesiastical His. tory writes, “ Peter, by the direction of Providence, came to Rome in the reign of Claudius, to contend with and overcome Simon Magus ;” and, in his Chronicon, that after he had been at Antioch he went to Rome, in the second year of Claudius, i. c. the year of Christ 44. Those who espouse this opinion, suppose the Gospel of St. Mark to be written about this time. The same opinion also is maintained at the end of the Arabic version, and of many ancient manuscripts of this,Gospel, particularly one mentioned by Dr. Hammond, two referred to by Father Simon, and thirteen cited by Dr. Mill, by Theophylact also, and others of the Greek scholiasts.

Considering this sopposition as correct, it by no means implies that St. Peter continued long at Rome, as the Romishi Church assert. There is internal evidence to the contrary; for we find St. Paul does not salute him in his Epistle to the Romansneither did he meet him on his first coming to Rome, in the beginning of the reign of Nero. St. Paul does not mention St. Peter in any of the epistles he wrote from Rome; and in his Epistle to the Colossians, St. Peter's name is not mentioned among his coadjutors. In the work of Lactantius (or of L. Cæcilius, according to L. Clerc,) it is said Peter came to Rome in the time of Nero, and made many converts, and formed a Church-an account which at once confutes the fable that he bad been there twenty-five years as Bishop of Rome, on which assertion the supremacy of the Pope is founded.

The probable conclusion therefore is, that St. Peter took refuge at Rome, during the Herodian persecution, to which place he was accompanied by St. Mark, and after staying there some short time, Peter, like the rest of the apostles, superintended the Hebrew Christian, and not the Gentilo Churches; travelling from place to place, till he returned to Jerusalem, to be present at the apostolic council.

That St. Peter was martyred at Rome, (a circumstance which many protestant writers bave discredited, from the fear of giving countenance to the unfounded, and therefore absurd, doctrine of the pope's supremacy,) has been asserted by Ignatius, Dionysius, Irenæus, Clement, Tertullian, Caius, Origen, Cyprian, Lactantius, Eusebius, Athanasius, Ephraim, Epiphanius, Jerome, Chrysostom, and many others (d). The quotations from the works of each of whom way be seen in Lardner. It is impossible to resist evidence to this extent. Nor does the fact of St. Peter's martyrdom at Rome epforce upon us the doctrine attached to it by one division of the Christian Church.

We are now to inquire into the probability of St. Mark's accompanying the apostle to Rome, and what evidence there is

« VorigeDoorgaan »