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us strength when the hour ar- outbreakblow over without developrives.”
ing into a regular warfare between “Has Lane been downstairs him and his father. since ?" asked the father, himself When eight and a half o'clock moved to tears.
| came, Mrs. Houston was called out "No; and he has had nothing to into the kitchen to see the result of eat, and no one has spoken to him the evening's labour. since breakfast,” replied the mother. “Thank you, my good children,"
“What if he should start to go she said. “They are as nice and into town to spend the evening?" white and shapely as any that could
“I have a plan which I think will be made by the confectioners themkeep him at home to-night." . selves. Now wash up so as to be
On his way downstairs Mr. in the parlour when the clock strikes Houston went to his son's door and nine, there is something else pleacalled in a pleasant voice, " Come, sant in store for you." my son, dinner is waiting.” Lane The young people obeyed, wonquickly opened the door, with his dering and eager. At nine o'clock hair freshly brushed and neatly at- precisely their mother folded up the tired. He had dressed for dinner, day's newspapers, put them in the although expecting, should he try wall-pocket, and brought a large the door, he would find it still locked Bible and placed it upon the roadupon the outside, and not doubting ing-table. that he was to be again put upon a Mr. Houston's voice trembled a protracted diet of bread and water. little as he said, “It has been
He came downstairs wondering brought very forcibly to my mind on the way if it was possible that his to-day that I have been shamefully father in this controversy had es- neglecting my duty and the highest poused his cause as against his welfare of you, my children, in not mother; or whether, as it seemed joining with you in the study of this most likely to him, the possession blessed Word and in family prayer. of the vicious little fire-arm had To-night we will begin a different not indeed brought them all to course, and see whether we will not " terms."
all be made happier and better by Lane was given to stealing out of following it." He read a chapter, the house in the evenings, and fre- and then knelt down. His wife and quenting questionable resorts in children followed his example, all company of boys who were nearly except Lane. He sat bolt upright, as wayward as himself; but to with a stern, pale face, and pernight Mrs. Houston forestalled turbed air, now and then casting any such course by saying as soon quick glances towards the door as as dinner was over, “I wish, chil- if meditating an escape. dren, you would make two or three The poor father at first could find panfuls of pop-corn balls, to carry no words to express his conflicting to the charity festival to-morrow. thoughts and deep prayerful desires, The materials are all ready; and, but as he called to mind his friends, Lane, you must superintend the the superintendent and his wife, on popping of the corn and the pre- their knees for him, at that very paration of the treacle and sugar.” moment, his stammering tongue
This was one of the lad's favourite was unloosed, and his unburdened pastimes, and he went about the soul found a wonderful freedom at business in hand with alacrity, his the throne of grace. As the now brothers and sisters obeying his wrestling Jacob was closing a most many orders, glad to have this new tender and pathetic appeal in behalf of his erring son, and that all might toward God had worked entire resubmit their rebellious wills to formation and healing. He stepped Christ's loving sovereignty, Lane up to the table and laid the loaded rose from his chair, crossed the revolver upon it near his father's room, and kneeling by his father's side. “I don't think you will have side, threw his arms around his any more trouble with Lane,” he neck, sobbing, “Pray on, father! said. “ Forgive, oh forgive me, my pray on! I have tried to ask God father and mother, and brothers to cleanse my wicked heart, but I and sisters, as I hope in the forcould not get to Him at all myself; 1 giveness of Jesus Christ!" I know He will hear me now, when They who would rule must first you are all willing to pray with me." be ruled. All authority is from God.
The whole family rose from their He who rules under God's direction knees with melted hearts and tearful is upheld by God's authority. He faces. It came out that the two who rebels against God's rule need eldest daughters had been in the not wonder that others rebel against habit of praying in secret, and they his own. A rebel has no authority; declared this to be the happiest hour his only rule is by mere mental or of their lives.
physical force. He who is subject Lane was completely subdued. to his Maker has all the universe The leaven of repentance and faith | upon his side.
THE CONVERSION OF CORNELIUS.
BY THE REV. W. H. KING.
Acts. x. 1-8. If one were asked to name the two conversions recorded in the Acts which were most fruitful in subsequent results, the answer would be, without the least hesitation, the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and of the Roman centurion Cornelius. Saul's intense bigotry and bitter opposition to the gospel before, and his wholehearted consecration to the will of Christ after, he had received the truth have no parallel in the inspired history. And the position of Cornelius as a soldier and a Roman invests his conversion with the deepest interest and importance. Between these two conversions there is a very close connection, and in the method and instrumentality by which they were brought about there are some very remarkable correspondencies. Saul, from the first hour of bis receiving the truth of Christ, was set apart for the great work of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. "He is a chosen vessel unto me," said the Lord, “ to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” And in the conversion of Cornelios, though Saul had no part in the ministry by which it was accomplished, the
way was opened up by the special command of Christ for the admission of Gentiles into the "gospel of the grace of God.” Through him, and from his time henceforth, it was divinely ordained by the Lord, and fully understood by the apostles, that the heathen should enter into the Church of the living God without being compelled to jass through the strait gate of Judaism. That fact seems to link these two conversions together, as initiating the first great onward novement in the wider diffusion of the gospel among the nations of the earth.
There is further a very suggestive correspondence in the method of these two conversions. Special revelations by vision were given in relation to both. As Saul was prepared by a vision to receive the visit and the healing message of Ananias, so Cornelius was instructed by a vision to send for, and receive, the ministry of Peter; and each of these visions was seen at a time when both Saul and Cornelius were engaged in devout fellowship with God. Then further, as Ananias was commanded by a vision to go with the Lord's message to Saul, so Peter was instructed by a vision to carry the news of Christ's salvation to the Gentile soldier. And the correspondence between the two is even more complete, for both Ananias and Peter at first demurred to the plain commands given them by these visions. Ananias said, “ Lord, I have heard by many of this map, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem, and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call upon thy name." He thought there was something strange in being commanded to go to a man like Saul of Tarsus, and at first objected to it. So Peter, when he bad seen the vision of animals, clean and unclean, demurred to the command, “Arise, Peter, kill and eat.” He said, “ Not so, Lord, for I bave never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” But though these servants of Christ at first objected to do what they were bidden, when their objections became overruled by a fuller disclosure of the purposes of the Lord, they both yielded loyal obedience, and both became the means of accomplishing blessed results.
Leaving now the corresponding case of Saul, and devoting our attention wholly to the conversion of Cornelius, we shall see that there were three distinct stages in the process--three chapters in the history. The events which stand central in these three distinct chapters took place on three separate days, each event having a day to itself. The first took place at Cæsarea, about three o'clock in the afternoon, in the chamber of Cornelius. The second at Joppa, at noon of the next day, on the flat roof of the house of Simon the tanner. The third, two days later, and carries our thoughts back again to the officers' quarters in the barracks at Cæsarea, when the two former events led up to their conclusion in the third.
Our attention in the remaining part of this paper will be devoted to the first events of the cycle--the preparatory vision of Cornelius, and the circumstances that gather around it,
The scene opens at Cæsarea—not Cæsarea Philippi, a town far up on the northern frontiers of Galilee, of which mention is made in the Gospels—but Cæsarea Sebaste, a large and handsome city on the sea coast about thirty miles north of Joppa, and forming with Joppa the two important harbours on the Mediterranean coast of PalestineJoppa, the ancient Jewish seaport; and Cæsarea, the modern Roman seaport. At the present day only a few ruins and some fishers' huts are to be seen there, but in New Testament times it was not only modern, but quite new. It had been built by Herod the Great, who reigned in Judæa at the time when Jesus Christ was born. Herod had laid it out with his usual ideas of costly magnificence. He had erected magnificent palaces, temples-heathen temples, of course-and theatres there. He had constructed a fine and commodious harbour by means of breakwaters, and last, but not least, he had built around and within it immense fortifications, so that it was the most strongly fortified city in Palestine. And he had called it Cæsarea Sebaste, or Cæsarea Augustus, in honour of his patron the Roman Emperor of that name. Though built within Jewish territory, it was far more Roman than Jewish, both in its appearance and in the character of its population. It was the seat of the Roman Procurator, and the head-quarters of the army in occupation of the whole country, and it was regarded at Rome as the real capital of Palestine.
It was in the barracks at Cæsarea that the regiment, or cohort, of which Cornelius was a subordinate officer, was quartered. The soldiers occupying Palestine were commonly recruited from the population of the country, but the cohort to which Cornelius was attached -called the Italian band-was probably a select class of soldiers, like our modern “ Life Guards," who were recruited altogether from Italy. As the name of Cornelius was the name of one of the most noble of the Roman clans, it seems clear that he himself was a Roman both by blood and birth.
This is the man to whom the gospel was sent. We should note him well, for even before his conversion he is a man who deserves careful study. He is a soldier ; he belongs to a profession in which, though there have been some eminently godly men, there is but little to favour the reception or foster the growth of religious life. Moreover, he is a Roman soldier ; he belongs to a people, “ stern to inflict, stubborn to endure," who have come to regard military glory as the highest object of human ambition, and military success as the crowning honour of a nation; a people, moreover, whose arms were universally acknowledged to be almost invincible. They made it their proud boast that their soldiers had conquered in every part of the known world, and that nearly all civilised nations had become subject to them. Among that people this man holds a high social position, his family, the Cornelii, being one of the oldest and most influential, and he has command in a select fashionable regiment—the Italian band, or cohort.
And yet Cornelius is introduced to us as a devout God-fearing man. He had made no profession of formal adherence to the Jewish religion, for the whole narrative makes it perfectly clear that he was not a pioselyte. Throughout the discussion that arose in the Church after his conversion he is spoken of as if he had been a heathen; but a heathen most certainly he was not. He was not only a devout God-fearing man himself, but he had created a devout atmosphere around him. His religion was contagious, it infected his household and dependents. He was " a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house; which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always.” The two household servants whom he sent to Peter were attended by “a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually.” Clearly he was a man who, amid the surroundings of a military barracks, filled with heathen soldiers, was not ashamed to be known as a man of prayer, and whose religion was deeply felt and acknowledged by his own household.
It is a question of very great interest and importance, How could such a man have arrived at so clear and true a conviction of the real nature of religion ? That the nation to which he belonged was at this time wholly given up to idolatry, there cannot, unhappily, be the least reason to doubt. In the very town of Cæsarea, in which Cornelius was quartered, the most splendid building erected by Herod was a heathen temple. And it would seem that even Cornelius himself was not wholly free from some of the old instincts and habits of thought engendered by a heathen education, for when, afterwards, he recognised in Peter the messenger sent him in fulfilment of his vision, he fell at his feet to worship him--an act quite spontaneous and perfectly natural to a man whose training and surroundings had led him to believe in lesser as well as in greater divinities, just as the reproving words of Peter, “ Stand up, I myself also am a man,” were the spontaneous utterance of one who deeply felt that God alone was the true object of worship. Yet with such an education and such surroundings Cornelius was a man who feared God, and gave much alms, and prayed to God always.
We may well believe that Cornelius was a type of a class of men who at that time were to be found tbroughout the civilised world in large numbers. They had become intensely dissatisfied with heathenism. They had found that idolatrous worship neither brought light to the mind nor comfort to the heart. They were seeking for light and truth. And the wide dispersion of the Jewish people at that time-for they were to be found almost all over the world—had largely tended to spread the knowledge of the true God. With all their narrow bigotry and intense national pride and religious exclusiveness, they held before the nations the lamp of a purer knowledge than any other people in the world possessed. Wherever there were Jewish people there was a Jewish synagogue where the Word of God was read, and the influence of Jewish worship on every Sabbath day would tend very