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and no tolerable ground exists for calling in question the tradition of the Church, that such was the manner of the apostle's martyrdom.* Doubtless it is here obscurely intimated; but this is of the very nature of prophecy, and there is quite enough in the description to show that the Lord had this and no other manner of death in his eye. The stretched forth hands are the hands extended upon either side on the transverse bar of the cross. The girding by another is the binding to the cross, for the sufferer was attached to the instrument of punishment not only with nails, but also was bound thereto with cords. It cannot be meant by the bearing " whither thou wouldest not,” that there should be any reluctancy on the part of Peter to glorify God by his death, except indeed the reluctancy which there always is in the flesh to suffering and pain; which yet in his case, as in the Lord's, (compare Matt. xxvi. 39,) should be overruled by the higher willingness to do and to suffer the perfect will of God. In this sense, as it was a violent death, -a death which others chose for him,-a death from which flesh and blood would naturally shrink, it was “whither he would not;" though, in a higher sense, as it was the way to a nearer vision of God, it was that at which he had all his life been aiming; and then he was borne whither most he would; and the exulting words of another apostle, at the near approach of his martyrdom, (2 Tim. iv. 6—8,) would have suited his lips just as well.
* EUSEBIUS, Hist. Eccl., 1. 2, c. 25; 1. 3, c. 1.
+ The passages most to the point in showing that this would naturally be one of the images which one, who, without naming, yet wished to indicate crucifixion, would use, are this from Seneca (Consol. ad Marciam, c. 20): Video istic cruces non unius quidem generis; .... alii brachia patibulo explicuerunt; and Tertullian (De Pudic., c. 22): In patibulo jam corpore expanso: who says again with allusion to the stretching out of the hands in prayer; Paratus est ad omne supplicium ipse habitus orantis Christiani. And the following phrase occurs in Arrian's Epictetus, 1. 3, c. 26: εκτείνας σεαυτόν, ώς οι εσταυρωμένοι. The passage adduced by some from Plautus,
Credo ego tibi esse eundum extra portam,
Dispessis manibus patibulum quum habebis, is not quite satisfying ; since this is most probably an allusion to the marching the criminal along, with his arms attached to the fork upon his neck, before he was himself fastened to the cross; or perhaps not to be followed up by actual execution at all, but only as itself an ignominious punishment. (See Becker's Gallus, v. 1, p. 131, and WETSTEIN, in loc.)
So TERTULLIAN (Scorp., c. 15): Tunc Petrus ab altero cingitur, cum cruci astringitur; or perhaps it may be, as Lücke suggests, the girding the sufferer round the middle, who otherwise would be wholly naked on the cross. He quotes from the Evang. Nicod., c. 10: Εξέδυσαν οι στρατιώται τον Ιησούν τα ιμάτια αυτού, και περιέζωσαν αυτόν λεντίω. .
$ Chrysostom (In Joh, Hom. 88): "OROV oů Béheça tis quoews héyel to ovunadès kal
Nor may we exclude the symbolical meaning, which we have found in the earlier parts of the chapter, from this part also. The "girding himself” is to be taken as the sign and figure of promptness and an outward activity, (Exod. xii. 11; Luke xii. 35; 1 Pet. i. 13; Ephes. vi. 14;) and, in fact, our Lord is saying to Peter, “When thou wert young, thou aotedst for me, thou wentest whither thou wouldest, thou wert free to work for me, and to choose thy field of work; but when thou art old, thou shalt learn another lesson, a higher and a harder; thou shalt suffer for me; thou shalt no more choose thy work, but others shall choose it for thee, and that work shall be the work of passion rather than of action.” Such is the history of the Christian life, not in Peter's case only, but this is the very course and order of it in almost all of God's servants; it is begun in action, it is perfected in suffering. In the last, lessons are learned which the first could never teach; graces exercised, which but for this, would not at all, or would only have very weakly, existed.
Thus it was, for instance, with a John Baptist. He begins with Jerusalem and all Judea flowing to him to listen to his preaching; he ends with lying long, a seemingly forgotten captive, in the dungeon of Machærus. So was it with a St. Chrysostom. The chief cities of the world wait upon him with reverence and homage while he is young, and he goes whither he would; but when he is old, he is borne whither he would not, up and down, a sick and suffering exile. Thus should it be also with this great apostle. It was only in this manner that whatever of self-will and self-choosing survived in him still, should be broken and abolished, that he should be brought into an entire emptiness of self, a perfect submission to the will of God.
And then the Lord, as he has shown him the end, will also show him the way; for “ when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.” Now these words do more than merely signify, in a general way, “Be thou an imitator of me.” Such an explanation would show that we had altogether failed in realizing to ourselves this solemn scene, as it was on this day enacted on the shore of Gennesaret. That scene was quite as much in deed as in word; and here, at the very moment that the Lord spake the words, it would seem that he took some paces along the rough and rocky shore, bidding Peter to do the same; thus setting forth to him in a figure his future life, which should be a following of his divine Master in the rude and rugged way of Christian
της σαρκός της ανάγκην, και ότι άκουσα απορρήνυται του σώματος ή ψυχή. Cf. Augustine's beautiful words, Serm. 299, and Serm. 173, c. 2: Quis enim vult mori? Prorsus nemo: et ita nemo ut beato Petro diceretur, Alter te cinget, et feret quo tu non vis
action, That all this was not so much spoken as done, is clear from that which follows, which only is explicable so. Peter, " turning about," - looking, that is, behind him," seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved ;"
-words not introduced idly, and as little so the allusion to his familiarity at the Paschal supper, but to explain the boldness of John in following unbidden ;* him he seeth" following" and inquires, “Lord, what shall this man do?” He would know what shall be his lot, and what the issue of his earthly conversation : shall he, too, follow by the same rugged path?
It is not very easy to determine the spirit out of which this question proceeded. Augustine thinks it is that of one who was concerned that his friend should seem to be left out, and not summoned to the honor of the same close following of his Lord. Others, however, have oftentimes taken this question in quite a different sense; that it is a question put more in the temper of Martha, when she said to the Lord, concerning her sister Mary, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?" (Luke x. 40,) being not pleased that Mary should remain quietly sitting at Jesus' feet, while she was engaged in active service for him.f Certainly the rebuke which here, as there, the
* Bengel: Ut autem in cænâ illâ ita nnnc quoque locum quærebat, et se fami. liariter insinuabat, propemodùm magis, quàm Petrus libenter perferret.
† Serm. 253, c. 3: Quomodo ego sequor et ipse non sequitur? This, too, is Chrysostom's explanation. Jerome's (Adv. Jovin., 1. 1, c. 26) is slightly different : Nolens deserere Johannem, cum quo semper fuerat copulatus. In later times it was often understoood, as that in Peter's words spoke out the jealousy of the practical life for the contemplative, Martha's dissatisfaction with Mary. The first thinks bardly of the other, counts it to be a shunning of the cross, a shrinking from earnest labor in the Lord's cause,-would fain have it also to be a martyr not merely in will, but in deed. See the very interesting extracts from the writings of the Abbot Joachim, in NEANDER's Kirch. Gesch., v. 5, p. 440.
| It is partly no doubt their general character, as developed through the Gospel history, but mainly this passage, which has caused the two apostles, St. Peter and St. John, to be accepted in the Church as the types, one of Christian action, the other of Christian contemplation ; one, like the servants, working for its absent Lord; the other, like the virgins, waiting for him: the office of the first, the active laboring for Christ, to cease and pass away, because the time would arrive when there should be no more need for it; but of the other, the contemplation of God, to remain (uévelv) till the Lord came, and not then to cease, but to continue for evermore. Thus Augustine in a noble passage, of which I can only give a fragment or two (In Ev. Joh., Tract. 124): Duas itaque vitas sibi divinitus prædicatas et commendatas novit Ecclesia, quarum est una in fide, altera in specie; una in tempore peregrinationis, altera in æternitate mansionis ; una in labore, altera in requie; una in viâ, altera in patriâ ; una in opere actionis, altera in mercede contemplationis ;. ...una bona et mala discernit, altera quæ sola bona sunt, cernit : ergo una bona est, sed adhuc misera, altera melior
question calls out, implies that the source out of which it proceeded, whether this or another, was not altogether pure. Peter, understanding well what that “ Follow me,” addressed to himself, meant, may have felt a moment's jealousy at that easier portion which seemed allotted to his fellow apostle.
This was most likely the thought, and then the rebuke exactly meets it. Peter had perceived what the leaving John, and bidding him to follow, implied. John was to “ tarry," doing a still work in the Church; the rougher paths were not for his treading, but rather he was to be perfected by another discipline; not borne away from the earth in the fire-chariot of a painful martrydom, but, tarrying long, he should crown a peaceful and honored old age by a natural death. It was not, indeed, that he, or any other saint, should escape his share of worldly tribulation, or that the way for him, or for any, should be other than a straight way. Yet do we see daily how the sufferings of different members of the kingdom are allotted in very different proportions; with some, they are comparatively few and far between, while for others, their whole life seems a constant falling from one trial to another. And our Lord's answer to Peter's speech is in fact this : “Hast thou a right to complain, if it be thus? What is it to thee how I apportion the lots of my other servants ? Nay, if I were to will that he should never see death—that he should altogether escape that narrow and painful passage into life, and tarry* till my coming again, what would that be to thee? Do thou thine allotted task; follow thou me.”+
St. John mentions by the way how these words of his Lord were misunderstood by some, who had from thence assumed that he was never to die, but to continue among the living until the time of Christ's return; an interpretation which he anxiously disclaims, showing that
et beata. Ista significata est per Apostolum Petrum, illa per Johannem. Tota hic agitur ista usque in hujus seculi finem, et illic invenit finem: differtur illa complenda post hujus seculi finem, sed in futuro seculo non habet finem. Ideo dicitur huic, Sequere me: de illo autem, Sic eum volo manere donec veniam, quid ad te Tu me sequere .... Quod apertius ita dici potest, Perfecta me sequatur actio, informata meæ passionis exemplo; inchoata verò contemplatio maneat donec venio, perficienda cùm venero. This view remarkably re-appeared in the twelfth century in connection with the Evangelium Eternum. (NEANDER’s Kirch. Gesch., v. 5, p. 440, seq.)
* For the same use of uñvelv, see 1 Cor. xv. 6.
+ See a sermon by St. Bernard (In Nativ. SS. Innocent., c. 1): Et bibit ergo Johannes calicem salutaris, et secutus est Dominum, sicut Petrus, etsi non omni modo sicut Petrus. Quod enim sic mansit ut non etiam passione corporeâ Dominum seque retur, divini fecit consilii; sicut ipse ait, Sic eum volo manere, donec veniam. Ac si dicat: Vult quidem et ipse sequi, sed ego sic eum volo manere.
the words conveyed no such meaning, and that only through an inaccurate report of them, or a laying upon them of a meaning far greater than they themselves would justify, could they be made to convey any such impression : "Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die, but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" Yet this explicit declaration that no such meaning lay in the words, was not sufficient to extinguish altogether such a belief or superstition in the Church. We find many traces of it at many times; even his death and burial, which men were compelled to acknowledge, were not sufficient to abolish it. For his death, men said, was not really death, but only the appearance of death, and yet he breathed in his grave; so that even an Augustine was unable wholly to resist the reports which had reached him, that the earth yet heaved over the apostle's grave, and the dust was lightly stirred by the regular pulses of his breath.* The fable of his still living Augustine at once rejects, but is more patient with this report than one would have looked for, counting it possible that a permanent miracle might there be finding place.
* In Ev. Joh., Tract. 124: Cùm mortuus putaretur, sepultum fuisse dormientem, et donec Christus veniat sic manere, suamque vitam scaturigine pulveris indicare : qui pulvis creditur, ut ab imo ad superficiem tumuli ascendat, flatu quiescentis impelli. · Huic opinioni supervacaneum existimo reluctari. Viderint enim qui locum sciunt, utrùm hoc ibi faciat vel patiatur terra, quod dicitur ; quia et reverà non à levibus hominibus id audivimus.
+ See TERTULLIAN, De Animd, c. 50; HILARY, De Trinit., 1. 6, c. 39; AMBROSE, Exp. in Ps. cxviii. Serm. 18, c. 12; JEROME, Adv. Jovin., 1. 1, c. 26; NEANDER'S Kirch. Gesch., v. 5, p. 1117. This superstition aided much the wide-spread faith of the middle ages, in the existence of Prester John in further Asia. Even as late as the sixteenth century an impostor was burnt at Toulouse, who gave himself out as St. John; and in England some of the fanatical sects of the Commonwealth were looking for his return to revive and reform the Church.—The erroneous reading Sic [for Si] eum volo manere, which early found its way into the Latin copies, and which the Vulgate, with the obstinate persistence of the Romish Church in a once admitted error, still retains, must have helped on the mistake concerning the meaning of Christ's words.