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as the Romanist would argue, or whether, as Churchmen in England would say, it was made to him as the representative of the Apostolic body, and so the type of the Christian ministry. Or, on the other hand, we shall see whether the mention of St. Peter in this passage, and the prominent place which seems in it to be given him, stand. so completely alone that it cannot be wrought into any thing like a regular system.
Now if we look carefully into St. Matthew's Gospel, we seem to find, throughout, a peculiar place occupied by St. Peter. In chap. xiv. we have the narrative of the strength and weakness of his faith, in walking on the water to go to Jesus ; a circumstance not related by any other of the Evangelists. In the next chapter we find Peter asking for an explanation of our Saviour's "parable" respecting the things which defile a man, and the “blind leaders of the blind,” who had been offended at the saying (xv. 15.). In chap. xvi. is the promise under our consideration, and the offence which so soon followed, and called down upon him his Master's displeasure. In chap. xvii. we have the story of the tribute money, and that discourse of our Lord with St. Peter which seems to have given rise to the disciples' question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven ?" Again, in chap. xviii. when our Lord has been explaining to his disciples how the offending brother is to be dealt with by "the Church," (ver. 17.) and has confirmed to them the solemn declaration before made to St. Peter, (which shows in what sense it was made in the first instance to St. Peter,).“ Verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever
ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven,” &c., we read, “ Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him ?" In chap. xix. we find him anxiously inquiring of his Lord, what reward should be given to himself and his fellow-apostles, who had forsaken all-and followed Him. The answer is the remarkable and solemn promise to the Twelve, which this Evangelist alone records in this place : Verily, I say unto you,
which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Throughout St. Matthew's Gospel, St. Peter seems to be put forward in a very peculiar manner, of which, however, we are scarcely aware, until we compare the other Evangelists, and observe the difference between them in their selection and arrangement of the events they record. This is, however, too extensive a subject to enter upon at present. Our only object is to suggest the inquiry, whether there is not something more than casual in the prominent place which St. Peter occupies in St. Matthew's Gospel, and whether this peculiarity does not imply the existence of some deeper meaning than we should at first sight attach to several apparently insulated passages, in the centre of which stands the noble confession in the sixteenth chapter, and the gracious and glorious promise which was founded
In that promise, made by our Lord to St. Peter, it is said, “ I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Here we find an expression which is of very common occurrence in St. Matthew, and peculiar to his Gospel : no other Evangelist employs the phrase, “ the kingdom of heaven.” Here again we shall do well to collect together the various passages in which the expression is used ; and then we shall see that the doctrine of the Church and its Ministers, unfolded in the promise to St. Peter, is no insulated and subordinate point in St. Matthew's Gospel. In the beginning of the Gospel we find the Baptist preaching and saying, “ Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;" and the ministry of our blessed Lord, taking up the Baptist's message, opens with the same announcement.
" From that time (the time that John was cast into prison) Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (iv. 17.) We read of his going about all the synagogues of Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the kingdom" (iv. 23.); and in His Sermon on the Mount we hear Him declaring who they are to whom that kingdom belongs, (v. 3, &c.) “ The kingdom of heaven" was to be the fulfilment of the earlier dispensation, the law and the prophets ;" whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments,” says our blessed Lord, "and shall teach men so, the same shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven ; but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say
unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteous : ness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." (v. 17–19.) This, with other parallel passages, seems to give us a clue to the view of the Gospel dispensation as unfolded by St. Matthew. Our Lord appears in the character of a prophet, like Moses, raised up to be the Giver of a new law, and the founder of a new Kingdom or Polity. The Scribes and Pharisees were corrupt expounders of the Divine law, they were unfaithful stewards of the mysteries of the kingdom: other servants were therefore to be chosen into their place, who should be the true “ light of the world;" faithful rulers over God's household, giving to every one their portion of meat in due season. The Scribes and Pharisees were to be deposed from Moses' seat; St. Peter and his fellow apostles were to be exalted in their room. They had “ the keys of knowledge" committed to them, to open the kingdom of heaven unto men ; but they had abused their trust, and they were to be deprived of their sacred office. Thus does our Lord pass sentence upon them:
6 Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites : for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” And thus, in terms strictly corresponding, as it would appear, is their bishopric given for another to take : " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona ; and I say unto thee, that thou art Peter; and I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven." The kingdom of heaven, of which the keys were thus taken away from the Scribes and Pharisees, and given to St. Peter and his brethren, was that everlasting kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world, which had been committed to the Son by the Almighty Father. To Him of proper right it belongs; of Him alone it is properly said, that “ He openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” “ The law and the prophets were until John," He himself declares ; since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. “ From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (Luke xvi. 16. Matt. xi. 12.) For the baptism of repentance for
the remission of sins was then first preached to sinners. The Son of Man had power upon earth to forgive sins (ix. 6.); and He had also power to retain them : He was empowered to gather the wheat into his garner, and to burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire (iii. 12.). But when, as the Messenger of the Covenant, He came, in fulfilment of prophecy, to visit His temple, and to punish the priests who had corrupted the covenant, and been partial in the law, He came, at the same time, to " purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver," that they might “offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Let us bear this prophecy in mind when we turn to St. Matthew's Gospel, and let us see whether the long vista of God's dispensations in reference to his elder “ church” and household, the covenant made with its ministers, the promises given to them, their unfaithfulness and corruption, will not throw a new light upon many passages of the Gospel, which seemed before dark and uninteresting. We might, for instance, put side by side the discourses of our blessed Lord with the Pharisees, and those which He held with His own disciples; we might see the one cavilling against the truth, and laying snares for Him who came to try and prove them, until at length He gave them over to their blindness, and denounced a fearful catalogue of woes upon their heads : we might watch the other, gradually weaned from prejudice and carnal-mindedness, instructed in “ the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," as they were able to learn them, until they were fit to be left alone in the world, with the Spirit of their departed Master to be with them to the end of their ministry, while they made disciples of all nations, and taught them to observe the things which He had commanded them. We should then trace, with no careless feeling, in the sixteenth chapter, the lines of the Christian Church. When we see the faithless Pharisees, leagued with their bitterest enemies, to tempt the Great Prophet of the Church; when we hear Him affectionately reproving His own disciples for their want of faith, and warning them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees; when we then hear the solemn question put to the twelve, and the bold and undoubting answer of St. Peter, we shall see a depth and fulness of meaning in our Saviour's blessing, which perhaps we never saw before, and feel that “ blessed" indeed are
In this pas
we too, unto whom, through the covenant made with Simon, the son of Jonah, the blessed Chieftain of a blessed company, it has been revealed of the Father which is in heaven, that Jesus is “ the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Or, let us turn to the passage in the eighteenth chapter, in which the name of " the Church" occurs again, and the promise made to St. Peter is incidentally confirmed to the whole Apostolic body. Our blessed Lord is there teaching His disciples how we are to deal with our brethren when they offend us, and how oft to forgive them.
“ If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell hi his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.; but if he will not hear thee, then take with thee two or three more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and as a publican. Verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” sage, taken by itself, we must understand by the term ekki noia, as has been observed, a visible body: but let us look at it again in its connexion with the series of passages in which we have seemed to trace the idea of " the kingdom of heaven" as the fulfilment of that elder visible church, which was established by the ministry of Moses. The repetition of the promise before made to St. Peter connects this passage closely with that in chap. xvi. : there the power of the keys was promised by our Lord; here the principles and rules are given for its exercise. For these our blessed Lord refers to the spirit of the Mosaic law. The first step to be taken towards an offending brother breathes the general spirit of the Mosaic law, and closely agrees with the injunction specially given, “ Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart ; thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy brother, and not suffer sin upon him” (Lev. xix. 17.). The next step is in exact fulfilment of the command in Deut. xvii. 6. " At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.” And the final rejection of the brother that “ will not