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searches, as well as a mark of attachment to his Church and country, and to the ancient land of Narragansett. Sometimes he is a little too zealous in citing his advocates of Episcopacy. By way of illustrating her republican tendencies, he mentions as belonging to the Church a long list of prominent patriots of the revolution, and among the number we find the names of Franklin and Jefferson. These distinguished statesmen might have been cold intellectual admirers of the worship of the Church, but we have never seen the evidence that they appreciated her doctrines or possessed any decidedly Christian character. We do not care to see them quoted as supporters of Episcopacy.
“ Non tali auxilio,nec defensoribus istis
Tempus eget."-Virg. Men whose lives were better than Thomas Jefferson's, and whose intellects were quite as lofty and cultivated, have honored and served the Church by their practice and their pens. We can afford, therefore, to relinquish all claim to his influence in our behalf, and to give him, with his conceits and speculations and materialism, to the undoubted abettors of infidelity. The Washingtons, the Marshalls, the Rutledges, the Henrys, the Lees, the Johnsons, the Jays, and other leading architects in the work of American Independence, we are proud to own as Churchmen in the true sense of the word, and it is not the least honor to their illustrious names, that in watching the increase of Rome upon the ruins of Alba, they watched also the movement of that spotless banner inscribed with the mystery" of "Christ and His Church.”
ART. V.—THE ROCK OF THE CHURCH.
When it is duly considered what the word Rock, as it occurs in the Old Testament, means, it would seem impossible on the ordinary principles of exposition, even to apply it, whether figuratively or literally, to any person or thing but what is in itself truly divine. There is no expression (figurative) that exhibits more forcibly, not merely a single attribute, but the sum of divine attributes, than this; nay, it is the bold and beautiful metaphor for the Almighty Himself. More than once it thus occurs, in that noble song of praise, in which Moses (Deut. xxxii) recounts to Israel the great mercies which God had so variously exbibited to that people, and in which he reminds them (v. 4,) “He is the Rock”—(v. 15,) “ The Rock of Salvation -(v. 18,) “The Rock that begat him (Israel). It would seem, indeed, from the very frequent occurrence of this figurative epithet, that the inspired singer, here particularly, designedly selected it and held it up to the view of Israel and the world, as a title not only peculiarly, but exclusively applicable to God, the One of whom alone it can be said, “ He is the Rock.” Thus the word occurs again, (v. 30) and (v. 31)—“Their (the adversaries') rock is not as our Rock”—and in verse 37, it is expressly applied to those whom the heathen called gods—“Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted ?"
It may be needless, after these citations, to refer to other parts of the Scriptures to observe the same emphatic and exclusive application of this noble figure. But two or three references to the Psalms will show that in Israel, at least, this term was, if we may so speak, consecrated to the expression of God Himself, or of the attributes that belong to Him alone. Thus in Psalm xviii, verse 2, the inspired author says-" The Lord is my Rock ;” and in verse 46,—“ The Lord liveth and blessed be my Rock.” In Psalm xxxi, 2, the prayer is,-“ Be thou my strong Rock;" and in verse 3, it is repeated as a ground of confidence—“ For thou art my Rock,” etc. See also 1 Samuel ii, 2. Now from such passages, so familiar to the ears of Israel, two inferences necessarily force themselves upon us. First, the word is an exclusive epithet of Deity, of divine attributes or power; and, secondly, every Israelite, whether in the days of Moses or Christ, would associate with its obviously figurative use, only such ideas as belong to God. In a word, he could never be misled, even by any inadvertance, according to the usus loquendi, to understand the expression of any individual, merely human. He would be more prone, even, in an extreme case, where he might seem restricted by the connection of circumstances, rather to refer it to something more immediately divine, ihan incur the charge of either, (what would be to him,) the guilt of profaning this sacred epithet by applying it to any human being ; or else of the absurdity of understanding it thus, when used by any intelligent or pious individual. Either to apply it thus, or understand it thus, would be revolting to every Israelite, and could any one have used it thus, so as to refer necessarily to any human individual without qualification, it could not but appear as a profanation, not inferior to that of so employing any other title or attribute of God. It was, therefore, morally impossible for any intelligent Israelite, either to use or understand the term, without distinct qualification, as more directly referring to man than to God, or to something involving his power or attributes, as the Rock implied.
With such data, founded upon rigid historical fact, and obvious to every reader of the Scriptures, we are authorized, a priori, to decide in any case, where the sense or application of this word were doubtful, if not definitely in favor of any particular sense, at least against any construction that refers it to any individual, however gifted, or distinguished as a rock, or the rock, upon which God would make the operations of his providence depend, whether in the state or in the Church. We are already, perhaps, anticipated in these remarks by their obvious application to that celebrated passage where our LORD (Matt. xvi) in consequence of the confession made by Peter, addresses him in terms of the highest commendation, solely for, and with reference to this confession. In order to form a correct estimate of the particular passage in question, we must, first of all, look to the context, both to judge of the whole and the parts, and the latter more especially from the light of the former. The section of context in the chapter containing the circumstances is embraced between verses 13 and 20 inclusive. Our LORD, obviously for the purpose of eliciting their own expression, and of giving them further instruction, had put the question to his disciples,-“Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am ?” They answered according to the various rumors abroad. “Some say that Thou art John the Baptist ; some Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” Our Lord then put the question,-"But whom say ye that I am ?" Simon Peter, ever ready to give an unreserved expression of his convictions, before any of the rest apparently had time to reply, takes up the answer for himself and for all,-" Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus, on hearing this, immediately pronounces a high eulogium upon his disciple, which seems to partake of an exclamation and a feeling of admiration : "Blessed art thou Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven.” This eulogium, richly as it may have been deserved, for our LORD surely did it not without the best reason, yet appears on first view to exceed the proper measure of the occasion by which it was called forth. Why, it may be asked, should such a warm and high commendation be bestowed upon Peter or any other of the disciples, for giving such an expression to their convictions as to the person of their Lord; convictions which it would seem they could not but entertain, and which especially, as uttered in the private circle of the Apostolic college, on first view, indicated nothing remarkable, either for courage or conviction? We are, therefore, somewhat surprised at first, that this confession, honorable as it may be to Peter, was met by such a high commendation, that ought perhaps in the judgment of the superficial, be expended on a more important occasion.
But this would surely be a most rash judgment. The disciples with all the evidences of the divine authority of their LORD, were still not exempt from causes calculated to shake their faith. They, indeed, received the daily lesson in what they saw and heard of Him, that dissipated the rising doubt ; and the more they saw and heard of Him, the more they loved and confided. Yet the disciples were Jews, and as Jews they had the common Jewish notions of the Messiah, even until the last day he was present with them. They, in common with other Jews, expected to find in the Messiah an earthly temporal deliverer, a prince, indeed, armed with divine power, but whose commission would comprise chiefly the rescue of Israel from foreign thraldom, the restitution of ancient sovereignty and the extension of dominion over the rest of the world. That such temporal views asserted an influence over the disciples, we gather clearly from the unreasonable request made by the mother of James and John, for the first seats of honor in His kingdom; from the disputes of the disciples about pre-eminence, at the last incidents preceding His death on the cross ; and from the question which they put at the last interview before the ascension,—“LORD wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?" All shows how deeply the mere earthly and temporal was rooted in with every
other idea of the Messiah, and that whatever other ideas they cherished, they still could not, until the Spirit was given, divest themselves of the one, that He would also prove to be a great and glorious temporal prince. But here in this very feature of the expected Messiah,—this feature, so dear and cherished in the heart of every Israelite,—here there was so striking a contrast in the whole exterior of Jesus, that unless fortified on other grounds that could not be shaken, there was danger of disappointment in their hopes and prospects in sharing His destiny; and finally, to all human reason, danger of a total desertion of His cause. Had they, indeed, consulted with that flesh and blood,” as our Lord calls those temporal considerations which swayed even the best of Jews, as to the Messiah, they would have taken offence, and with disappointed expectations, would have deserted their divine leader. Here was no earthly splendor to greet the eye, no pomp, no parade, no sign of imperial or royal grandeur, no preparation to usher in the temporal dominion of the long expected prince; all was a perfect contrast to such ideas. Lowly as a little child in the midst of such moral greatness, devoid of all earthly pretensions, in the midst of so much at command, He presented a contradiction only to the calculations of time and sense.
But here it was that the disciples, fortified by other views, derived from their more immediate intercourse with JESUS,– derived not from the mere hearsay evidence of the distant looker-on, but from the close, every day inspection of private as well as public life, the power of His doctrine in private as well as before the multitude, and the conviction ever strengthened by His deeds and doctrines ; here it was again, that the moral and spiritual triumphed over the mere sensual, and the power of that hidden excellence prevailed over the grosser demands of “flesh and blood."
Perhaps there can hardly be found a stronger proof of the claims of Jesus as Messiah, and of the great truths of the gospel, than this constant conflict between the expectations of the twelve, as Jews, looking still for the temporal restoration of Israel, and their convictions as disciples of Him in whom they firmly believed as “ the Christ, the Son of the living God." The very fact, that with all the umpromising exterior before them, in the person and temporal depression of the lowly “Son of man;" the very fact, that they continued faithfully to adhere to Him, with nothing worldly to invite from beginning to end, shows there was a power at the same time in Him, asserting its sacred influence over their