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parts of three hours each, and each three hours had its watch kept by four men. Peter, in Herod's estimation, was as good as dead. He only waited the time to bring him forth and kill him with the necessary éclat. Peter therefore was kept in prison ; “but prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him.” Notice the contrast now. See the strength on the one hand, and the seeming feebleness on the other. Look at the world, as represented by Herod, and the soldiers, and the executioners. Herod has all the say, and Herod has all the sway. And how is the Church represented? Why, instead of meeting plot with plot—instead of the clashing of steel upon steelinstead of the meeting of power with power, there you have insulting, towering Herod, and the seemingly cowering Church down upon her knees in prayer.

" How fatuous, how feeble, how assuredly contemptible is that! Will that have the slightest effect upon Herod's power and Herod's purpose? Will that have the slightest effect upon Peter's perilous position? Prayer was made by a few feeble men. I do not suppose that there was a good swordsman among them. He who had tried it once and not made much at it, even Peter, was in prison.

The man who missed the High Priest's servant's head and managed to cut off an ear, which was seemingly the only feat of swordsmanship that the Apostles ever mustered up among them, was flung aside. There was not a brave man as the world counts bravery-not a likely man among them ; no plan of campaign ; and so weak, and destitute, and feeble ! a company

of obscure men and still obscurer women. And what God wanted was to see that prayer was made without ceasing by this little company unto God for him. That is one of the texts that invite discussion. A shaft should be sunk there, and the farther down you go the richer will be the ore through which you work your way. Ah ! friends, that is the situation yet. There is the secret of the Church's life. There is the reason why, all the might and malice of men and devils notwithstanding, the Church lives—because her life is fed through an invisible source, and essentially is indestructible. The day will come when men will laugh that ever the idea was entertained that the Church of Christ could be blotted out, or hindered even for an hour. It is coming, but we might see it some of us better than we do, and be more brightened and hopeful than we are. We might be a little more optimistic, might we not? or, as good old Dr. Cuyler said in my hearing the other day, “I cannot say that I am an optimist: I have lived too long and I have seen too much wickedness and too many disappointments for that, but I have determined to be a brave and cheery and hopeful pessimist.” Surely these two things are very much the same, are they not? Prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him.” There lies the Church's strength. There lies the individual's strength. As we said on Wednesday eveniug in connection with Moses at the wells of Marah, so we say again, the wisest thing in the Church's policy always is prayer to God; not conterences, not consultations, not gathering together her wisest heads, her strongest arms, and her stoutest hearts. The best thing to do always for the Church and for the individual is to go down on your knees and cry straight up to God. Then you are in contact with eternal wisdom, and your weakness lays hold of Almighty strength. That weak company had in their midst the Arm that sways the world. That weak company had in their midst the Lord God of Israel. The Arm that split the Red Sea and

with us.

overwhelmed Pharaoh's hosts was among them. The mind and heart that control all things was there among that feeble company of praying folk.

The Lord is with us; and if He is not always with us as at Sinai, a terror to all beholders, He still is with us. God is

“And when Herod would have brought Peter forth," he could not. That is just how it reads. When Herod would, he could not. When, when, when you are going to be rolled over and butchered somehow or other, then, then, then you are not.

The unexpected happens, and the expected does not happen. Just between the cup and the lip in comes the Almightv hand. Down goes the cup. Just in the nick of time. God likes to do a near thing. God likes to let Herod out on a long chain, and then, when Herod thinks that he is as good as God, He pulls him in hand over hand, and flings him contemptuously behind Him, to let all men know and see that verily there is a God that judgeth in the earth. Verily, sin and Satan are measured, and mapped, and noted, and limited, and though hand join in hand, God has set their bounds, and beyond these they cannot pass.

“When Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison." What a prisoner he was! Think of him: there were two chains; and there were four men there in front. You say again, and again, and again, “ What a mistake it is to be a Christian. What a poor life it is to be a believer. Here is what it comes to. Poor Peter, you should have stayed by your boat and your nets. This is all that you have made out of it: The two soldiers and the two chains, and the quaternion of soldiers keeping the front door. Lost, hopeless, helpless, immured, shut up, as good as dead." We shall see.

"And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison : and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he said unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel ; but thought he saw a vision.” Quicker than I can tell it, all this imprisonment and all these careful arrangements are just turned into contempt. “He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision.” In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, this oppression of the poor and the sighing of the needy shall be done away with. “ Now will I arise, saith the Lord; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him.” That is how God does—your God and mine. He will meet might with might, scorn with scorn, laugh with laugh, and He will laugh last, for He wins. You cannot read it without feeling the contempt that God pours upon this Herod, and at last He gets him eaten with worms in the very hour of his highest might. And again I say, and I say it deliberately and solemnly, it is this God with whom we have to do. And hark you, my friend, hark you, young man, if you are not trusting this eternal Jehovah, you are a fool. Suffer a plain word from the

who loves you. are not lying on His arm, you are the biggest fool out of Bedlam. To be sitting there, in possession of intelligence, and not to be on God's side, stamps this upon youthat you must be out of your mind. You are demented,

man

If you

You do not know the situation. Understand it, and change your attitude, for there are no middle courses.

You are either with Peter or with Herod. In these piping times of peace, when, alas! alas! our great danger is, that the distinction between the Church and the world is somewhat obliterated, many people fancy that there is a middle course, and they say, “ Well, we are not going in for the full curriculum that Peter went in for; but surely times are changed, and less will do.” Well, you may try it, but you will not live to prove that you have succeeded. You cannot serve God and mammon. Art thou for us or for our adversaries

-yes or no? Not to me, but to the Captain of the Lord's host. For us, or for our adversaries ?

“ The angel of the Lord came upon him." These are the resources that are at God's command, One can hardly speak in the nineteenth century about angels. We have got so materialistic; we have got so advanced.” supernatural stories !” Men come to us with hypocritical faces, and say, Well, preacher, you know, if you would suppress these things, if you would suppress this about angels—whoever saw an angel ?” Well, you never did. "If you would suppress all this about angels, and about heavenly powers, and about interference with the natural order of things, and reduce your Book to what undoubtedly is in it—a very valuable collection of ethical maxims-well, then, we might accept it.” Thank you, sir, for nothing. If we could take all the bones out of it, what a beautiful jelly-fish it would be. No, we keep in the miraculous. It is the very binding of the Book. It is the very strength and mainstay of Revelation. It is all mi raculous. “An angel came.” I asked once before, and I take the liberty of asking again in a company of Christian people, Do we believe in

Oh,

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