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opinion of the ancients, that there was nothing peculiar in the confession of Peter, and the answer made thereunto, as unto himself, but that he spake and was spoken unto in the name of all the rest of the
apostles. Euseb. Præparat. Evangel. lib. i. cap. 3. "Hre ονομαστί προθεσπιθεισα εκκλησία αυτού ήστηκε κατά βάθους ερριζωπένη, και μέχρις ουρανίων αψίδων ευχαίς οσίων και θεοφιλων ανδρών μετεοριζομένη- -διά μίαν εκείνην, ήν αυτός αποφώνητο λέξιν, είπων, Επί την πέτραν οικοδομήσω μου την εκκλησίαν, και πύλαι άδου ου κατισχύσουσιν αυτης. proves the verity of divine predictions from the glorious accomplishment of that word and the promise of our Saviour, that he would build his church on the rock'(that is, himself), ‘so as that the gates of hell should not prevail against it. For 'unum hoc est immobile fundamentum, una hæc est fælix fidei Petra, Petri ore confessa, Tu es filius Dei vivi,' saith Hilar. de Trin. lib. 2. This is the only immoveable foundation; this is the blessed rock of faith, confessed by Peter ; Thou art the Son of the living God.' And Epiphanus, Hær. 39. Έπί τη πέτρα ταύτη της ασφαλούς πίστεως οικοδομήσω μου Thv ékk.noiavo "Upon this rock,' of assured faith, 'I will build my
church.' For many thought that faith itself was metonymically called the rock, because of its object, or the person of Christ, which is so.
One or two more out of Austin shall close these testimonies. 'Super hanc Petram, quam confessus es, super meipsum filium Dei vivi, ædificabo ecclesiam meam. Super me ædificabo te, non me super te ;' De verbis Dom. Serm. 13. ' Upon this rock which thou hast confessed, upon myself the Son of the living God, I will build my church. I will build thee upon myself, and not myself on thee.' And he more fully declareth his mind, Tract. 124. in Johan. Ecclesia in hoc seculo diversis tentationibus, velut imbribus, fluminibus, tempestatibusque quatitur, et non cadit; quoniam fun
data est supra Petram ; unde et Petrus nomen accepit. Non enim a Petro Petra, sed Petrus a Petra; sicut non Christus a Christiano, sed Christianus a Christo vocatur. Ideo quippe ait Dominus super hanc Petram ædificabo ecclesiam meam, quia dixerat Petrus, tu es Christus filius Dei vivi ; super hanc ergo (inquit) Petram quam confessus es, ædificabo ecclesiam meam. Petra enim erat Christus, supra quod fundamentum etiam ipse ædificatus est Petrus ; fundamentum quippe aliud nemo potest ponere, præter id quod positum est, quod est Jesus Christus.' • The church in this world is shaken with divers temptations, as with showers, floods, and tempests, yet falleth not, because it is built on the rock (Petra) from whence Peter took his name. For the rock is not called Petra from Peter, but Peter is so called from Petra the rock; as Christ is not so called from Christian, but Christian from Christ. Therefore said the Lord, Upon this rock will I build my church; because Peter had said, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. Upon this rock, which thou hast confessed, will I build my church. For Christ himself was the rock on which foundation Peter himself was built. For other foundation can no man lay, save that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.'
Chap. ii. Against this rock, this foundation of the church, the person of Christ, and the faith of the church concerning it, great opposition hath been made by the gates of hell. Not to mention the rage of the pagan world, endeavouring by all effects of violence and cruelty to cast the church from this foundation ; all the heresies wherewith from the beginning, and for some centuries of years ensuing it was pestered, consisted in direct and immediate oppositions unto the eternal truth concerning the person of Christ. Some that are so esteemed indeed, never pretended unto any sobriety, but were mere effects of delirant imaginations; yet did even they also one way or other derive from an hatred unto the person of Christ, and centred therein. Their beginning was early in the church, even before the writing of the Gospel by John or his Revelations, and indeed before some of Paul's epistles. And although their beginning was but small, and seemingly contemptible, yet, being full of the poison of the old serpent, they diffused themselves in various shapes and forms, until there was nothing left of Christ, nothing that related unto him, not his natures, divine or human, not their properties nor actings, not his person, nor the union of his natures therein, that was not opposed and assaulted by them. Especially so soon as the gospel had subdued the Roman empire unto Christ, and was owned by the rulers of it, the whole world was for some ages filled with uproars, confusion, and scandalous disorders about the person of Christ, through the cursed oppositions made thereunto by the gates of hell. Neither had the church any rest from these conflicts for about five hundred that period of time, the power of truth and religion beginning universally to decay among the outward professors of them, Satan took advantage to make that havoc and destruction of the church, by superstition, false worship, and profaneness of life, which he failed of in his attempt against the person of Christ, or the doctrine of truth concerning it.
It would be a tedious work, and it may be not of much profit unto them who are utterly unacquainted with things so long past and gone, wherein they seem to have no concernment, to give a specimen of the several heresies whereby attempts were made against this rock and foundation of the church ; unto those who have inquired into the records of antiquity, it would be altogether useless. For almost every page of them at first view presents the readers with an account of
some one or more of them. Yet do I esteem it useful that the very ordinary sort of Christians should at least in general be acquainted with what hath passed in this great contest about the person of Christ from the beginning. For there are two things relating thereunto, wherein their faith is greatly concerned. For first, there is evidence given therein unto the truth of those predictions of the Scripture wherein this fatal apostacy from the truth, and opposition unto the Lord Christ, are foretold : and, 'secondly, an eminent instance of his power and faithfulness in the disappointment and conquest of the gates of hell, in the management of this opposition. But they have been all reckoned
up, and digested into methods of time and matter, by many learned men of old, and of late, so that I shall not in this occasional discourse, represent them unto the reader again. Only I shall give a brief account of the ways and means whereby they who retained the profession of the truth, contended for it unto a conquest over the pernicious heresies wherewith it was opposed.
The defence of the truth from the beginning, was left in charge unto, and managed by, the guides and rulers of the church in their several capacities. And by the Scripture it was that they discharged their duty, confirmed with apostolical tradition consonant thereunto. This was left in charge unto them by the great apostle; Acts xx. 28--31. 1 Tim. vi. 13, 14. 2 Tim. ii. 1, 2. 15. 23, 24. iv. 1–4. and wherein any of them failed in this duty, they were reproved by Christ himself; Rev. ii. 14, 15. 20. Nor were private believers in their places and capacities, either unable for this duty, or exempt from it, but discharged themselves faithfully therein, according unto commandment given unto them ; 1 John ii. 20. 27. iv. 1-3. 2 John viii. 8, 9. All true believers in their several stations,
by mutual watchfulness, preaching, or writing, according unto their calls and abilities, effectually used the outward means for the preservation and propagation of the faith of the church. And the same means are still sufficient unto the same ends, were they attended unto with conscience and diligence. The pretended defence of truth with arts and arms of another kind, hath been the bane of religion, and lost the peace of Christians beyond recovery. And it may be observed, that whilst this way alone for the preservation of the truth was insisted on and pursued, that although innumerable heresies arose one after another, and sometimes many together, yet they never made any great progress, nor arrived unto any such consistency, as to make a stated opposition unto the truth; but the errors themselves and their authors were as vagrant meteors, which appeared for a little while, and vanished away. Afterward it was not so, when other ways and means for the suppression of heresies were judged convenient and needful.
For in process of time, when the power of the Roman empire gave countenance and protection unto Christian religion, another way was fixed on for this end, namely, the use of such assemblies of bishops and others as they called general councils, armed with a mixed power, partly civil, and partly ecclesiastical, with respect unto the authority of the emperors, and that jurisdiction in the church which began then to be first talked of. This way was begun in the council of Nice, wherein although there was a determination of the doctrine concerning the person of Christ then in agitation, and opposed, as unto his divine nature therein, according unto the truth, yet sundry evils and inconveniences enşued thereon. For thenceforth the faith of Christians began greatly to be resolved into the authority of men, , and as much, if not more weight to be laid on what