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AN

INQUIRY

INTO THE

ORIGIN

OF THE

CHRISTIAN CHURCH,

AND PARTICULARLY OF TITT

CHURCH IN BRITAIN.

REVEREND BRETHREN,

THE origin of the Christian Church, and particularly of the Church in Britain, are questions which deeply concern us as Christians and Protestants. The proof of either establishes our belief in Christianity, and disproves the supremacy of the church of Rome.

If the Pope has no pretension to that supremacy which the Papists ascribe to him, and which detaches the Papists of this Empire from the allegiance in ecclesiastical matters, which is due to their Sovereign, and to ihe laws, it is greatly to be lamented, that

so false a principle should be a cause of separation between two great portions of the Christian Church, and should alienate one part of our fellow-subjects from the duty, which the rest pay to their King, and to the laws, of which he is the sworn guardian; and that on this false principle should be built the inflammatory complaints of their advocates in Parliament and out of it, as if the l'apists were suffering in this country for conscience sake, by being deprived of civil rights for want of that conformity, which their consciences condemn. Four fifths of

. the subjects of these Kingdoms have for some Centuries renounced all foreign jurisdiction. One fifth still adhcres to it in opposition to those constitutional principles, on which our Protestant government is founded, und which, for the security of the Protestant succession, placed the present Royal family on the Throne. Yet for the sake of this one fifth part of our follow-subjects, it is contended, that those principles ought to be abandoned,

۱۱۱۱

lor ain unconstitutional exemption founded on imaginary pretensions.

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The supermary of the Pope rests on a misinterpretation of Scripture. When our Saviour said to Simon, " Thou art Peter, and upon thus Roch, I will build my Church,"

66 Whom say

he did not mean to give to any particular Church, or to the Bishop of such Church, the right of supremacy over all other Churches. The words have no relation to such power or authority. In the

passage

which precedes these words, our Saviour

says, ye that I am ? and Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood have not revealed it unto thee; but my Father, which is in heaven :” to which He adds, and I

say

also unto thee, “ That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build

my

Church *." This rock refers to it, (id quod dictum est, says Augustine -t.) the confession, which St. Peter had just made, that Jesus was the Messiah .. This confession is the foundation of the Christian church. It was on this confession that the first converts were admitted into the Church of Christ. St. Paul says to the Church of Ephesus, “ Ye are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus

* Matth. xvi. 18.
+ In Epist. 1 Johann. Tract. 10.

Pope Felix III. translates: super ista confessione ædificabo ecclesiam meam. Pope Gregory the Great says, in petra ecclesia, hoc est in B. Petri confessione. Ep. 3. 33.

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Christ being the chief corner-stone. Their faith was built on the predictions of the Prophets, and testimony of the Apostles, the testimony and predictions of both uniting in Jesus Christ. The Church was founded on the Prophets and Apostles, not on St. Peter or St. Paul in particular. St. Peter was a a part of this foundation, but not a part on which the Church was solely or chiefly to depend. He was one of the stones of that edifice, of which Christ was the chief cornerstone. If the Church could be said to be founded on any individual Apostle, it was founded on St. James, who was the first Bishop of the first Christian Church. The Church of Christ was not founded on St. Peter individually, but on him, and the other Apostles ; and not on them, properly speaking, but on their doctrine, the Messiaship of Jesus.

Christ addressed his question to all the Apostles; whom say ye that I am ? St.

YE I Peter's answer was in the name of, all. The commission of the Keys was addressed to St. Peter, not exclusively, but in common with the rest.

“ I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven." Christ here only announces his intention of what he should do; and we may judge of what was intended

by what was afterwards done. Christ says not I now give, but I will give. And that future commission was the final commission in his last conversation with them on earth. And what was that commission ? To preach the Gospel, and to baptize all nations : to preach the doctrine of Christ, and to admit into the Church of Christ. By the kingdom of heaven, the keys of which were to be given to St. Peter, was meant the Gospel and the Church of Christ *. In his final commission to the Apostles, Christ did not commit the charge of preaching and buptizing to any one Apostle above the rest, but to all. St. Peter had in this charge no pre-eminence or superior authority. He was not the foundation, on which the Church was to be built, but a part of it. He was not petra, but petrus. And petrus, when distinguished from petra, certainly means not a rock, but a stone.

* The different meanings of Exothala Twy ougavwv are thus enumerared by Schleusner, Lex Nov. Test. a. tempus adventus Christi in his terris : B. omnis salus et felicitas, per Chrisium hominibus parta ; 7. futura Christianorum felicitas; 9. religio Christiana ; & cætus, societas Christianorum in his terris ; . imperium spirituale et invisibile, quo Christus cætum sectatorum suorum in his terris tuetur et auget, suamque doctrinam indies magis magisque propagat; n. propagatio religionis Christianæ; 9. regnum Christi terrenum.

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