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would teach him the truth of God. He fully know and deeply felt that he was partly in the dark. He had seen far enough into the nature of real religion to excite in his heart a sincere desire for more thorough knowledge of the law and will of God. He was hungering and thirsting after righteousness. And the sight of the man, who he had good reason to believe would show him how that hunger and thirst could be satisfied, filled him with devout gratitude. Though his mode of expressing that gratitude was wrong, yet it was a most striking expression of the deep earnestness of the man to get larger and clearer knowledge.
Then, we should notice further, the evident desire of Cornelius that the information and light to be obtained from Peter, whatsoever it might prove to be, should not be received by himself alone. It has been shown already that the devout man was the head of a devout household—that his religion had not been shut up in his own heart, like gold in å miser's chest-that even amid the surroundings of a distinctively heathen city and a soldiers' barracks, he had not been ashamed to be known as a man of prayer-that not only were the members of his own household influenced by his religious principles and habits, but that there was a " devout soldier" among those " that waited upon him continually.” And now, when Peter comes with the message of Christ's love, it is not, as in the case of Nicodemus, a private interview that he desires, for he has collected many like-minded men to hear the truth from Peter's lips. When the apostle had come into the house he found, not only that Cornelius waited for him, but that he had “ called together his kinsmen and near friends.” Cornelias did not want to go to heaven alone : he was as anxious that whatever light Peter might throw upon the will and purpose of God might shine upon other minds as that it should enlighten his own. There was neither selfishness nor false shame in his desire for religious knowledge. . . .
Then further, it is impossible not to be struck with the beautiful and unassuming humility of this man's character. He was a Roman, and the Romans were the proudest people on earth. He belonged, moreover, there is every reason to believe, 'to a noble Roman family, and held command in a select, fashionable regiment. He was stationed, with his company, in the territory of a nation whom his army had conquered, and for whose people Romans generally professed very great contempt. The very purpose for which he, in common with the rest of the army, was settled in Cæsarea, was to keep the conquered but turbulent Jews in subjection. And Peter was a Jew one of the conquered race. Moreover, we may safely assume that the Roman officer had lived long enough in Jewish territory to understand pretty clearly the difference between the various classes of Jewish society. Now. Peter was not only a Jew, but a Galilean; his speech bewrayed him.. He was an unlettered peasant; one of the lower orders of the people who had been a Galilean fisherman. And yet with what courtesy, and even reverence, Cornelius received him! With what respect and attention he listens to his message ! What a joke it would be in the officers' messroom in the barracks, that Cornelius, a member of a noble Roman family, after all his pray. ing, was sitting at the feet of a wandering Jewish peasant ! If we think of an officer of our own army in India, somo younger son of an aristocratic family, entertaining and humbly listening to the teaching of a low-caste Hindoo, we shall see at once how full this man's heart must have been of a humble desire to know the truth, and how willing he was to learn the truth by whomsoever it might be taught. Surely all that deep, religious earnestness, that sinking of the pride of earthly distinctions, that willingness to receive the truth by whomsoever God might send it, may teach all a great lesson well worth the learning.
But Peter is now face to face with his audience. He first explains, what, perhaps, sounded rather strangely in the ears of this company of Romans, that he had felt great scruples as to whether it might be lawful and proper for him, as a Jew, to have any fellowship with people of another nation as they were, but that God had shown him that he ought not to “call any man common or unclean.” If any among that audience had come out of mere curiosity, he might be excused for wincing a little at hearing such a declaration from a Jewish peasant from Galilee. But Cornelius was too much in earnest to notice a matter like that, and so, in response to Peter's request, he tells, with soldier-like brevity, why the apostle had been sent for. " And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour ; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter," " who, when he cometh, shall speak to thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come." Is there in these words, " Thou hast well done that thou art come,” a gentle rebuke to Peter for what he had said about men who are clean or unclean ? It sounds like it. Humble as Cornelins was, he could hardly be willing to admit that he, who was waiting upon God in prayer continually and living up to the light he possessed, could be fairly reckoned among men who were 80 unclean that a religious teacher should scruple to visit them. The rebuke, if rebuke it be, was a very gentle and dignified one, and he soon passes from it to a matter of far higher importance. "Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." There is a solemn earnestness about these words. Peter has not been sent for, Cornelius has not gathered bis friends for, the gratification of any mere curiosity, or to discuss any questions of Jewish scrupulosity. “We are here present before God," he says, “and we wait to hear what God will say to us through you."
This company of devout, expectant men, gathered in the officers' quarters at Cæsarea, may be taken as a fine model for a Christian congregation to copy. - They were all there. Cornelius had passed the word around among his prayerful, inquiring friends that he expected & messenger who would teach men concerning God and His truth, and now, as he concludes his address to Peter, we can imagine him, looking round upon the audience who had been invited, and with a quick soldier-like glance he sees that all have come—there was no vacant seat—no one had thrown a chill upon the meeting by staying away, and he says, “ We are all here." And they were all there in time. No one missed the first part of the proceedings—they were there to meet the preacher when he came. There was no late comer to wait for, or to break in upon the solemnity of the gathering after the preacher had commenced. And they were there consciously in the presence of God. They felt the solemnity of men who knew they were, and desired to be, under the omniscient eye of Him who searches all hearts, and is the Author of all blessing. "We are all here present before God.” And they were there with devout expectation that they would hear something from God. They did not want an eloquent sermon; they were not expecting to hear acute reasoning, or brilliant declamation ; they were prepared to listen with the attention of men who were expecting from the preacher's lips the truth of the living God. And more than this : they had already in their hearts the spirit and the purpose of devout obedience. They were waiting to hear, not only the things that God had taught Peter, but the things that God had commanded him, and that therefore He would command them through him. May we not learn something that very much needs to be learnt from this united, devout, and earnest congregation that had assembled in the soldiers' barracks to hear Peter preach the gospel ?
And if this was a model congregation, Peter's sermon was equally a model sermon. We are not to suppose that we have recorded in these few verses the whole of what Peter said it is clearly only an abstract of his address-it indicates, merely, the principal points of the truth he preached. We cannot imagine that the apostle, after travelling thirty miles, and then finding himself face to face with an audience of earnest men who were thirsting for the truth, would have ended all he had to say about God's mercy to men in the gospel of His Son, and the wonderful life, the tragic death, the glorious resurrection of the Lord, and the resurrection and final judgment of all men, in three or four minutes. The historian has given an outline of the truths unfolded by the apostle. And the preacher begins by frankly confessing that, before he teaches any truth to them, they have been the means of bringing light to him. He had not comprebended the whole significance of the strange vision he had seen until this moment. But now the whole purpose and meaning of it flashes across his mind. " Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons : but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” That was a great revelation to the apostle. Even the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, by whose power he had spoken on the day of Pentecost, had not taught him that! Whether his congregation, therefore, received any good from him or not, he has already received great good from them. This is only one example of a fact which is always true in a greater or less degree. The pew acts upon the pulpit long before the pulpit can begin to act upon the pew. Where earnest and devout men are assembled together for united worship before God, and mutual instruction from God, there is a living sympathy—a quick response of heart to heart, and of mind to mind. And no one who has not himself preached can understand what hallowing and helpful inspiration there is in that sympathy. All are in the presence of God-speakers and bearers alike-and it happens far oftener than many suppose, that, for good or for evil, the first impulse of a meeting for Christian worship is sent home to the heart of the preacher.
Peter follows this frank confession by unfolding the truth of the gospel. His sermon may be summed up as an exposition of great doctrines based upon great facts. As they form the basis, we glance at the facts first. The Word of God had been sent to the children of Israel by Jesus Christ. He was anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power. Moved by the inspiration, and armed with the power of that anointing, He went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed by the devil. He was cruelly and wickedly put to death, and on the third day God raised Him up and showed Him openly. He was seen by chosen witnesses-Peter and his friends among the number—who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. These were the great facts—the Divine foundation of all our hopes—that Christ lived and wrought His Father's will; that He yielded to the bitterness of death in order to break its bonds and to become the living Sapiour of sinful men.
On these facts were founded doctrines equally sublime and wonderful. He commanded His servants to preach the doctrine of future judgment; that all must stand before His throne at last to be judged concerning the things done in the flesh, for Christ is ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead. And side by side with that solemn doctrine of future judgment, there is the blessed doctrine of faith and forgiveness. For all the prophets testify that, “through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." • There is an old division of the offices and work of Christ which is very suggestive. He is our Prophet, our Priest, and our King. And in this abstract of Peter's sermon, brief as it is, these different offices are clearly shown, « The word of God was sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ.” He was God's preacher, God's Prophet, revealing His truth and declaring His will. He is a Priest, for by Him there is the “ remission of sins.” And He is the King, the Lord of all,” the Judge of the living and the dead. This sermon, therefore, as a modern writer has well said, is the gospel of Christ in nuce, in a nut-the germ of the whole truth on which the salvation of men depends.
The teaching of Peter was attended by the power of God. . There was no need to receive the assurance of their acceptance of the truth, for the soil had been so well prepared, the quickening power of the Divine Spirit was so instantaneous, that the whole harvest sprung up while the sower was sowing the seed, and the whole company of Roman inquirers passed into the joy of living fellowship with the living God. 66 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” In some way we cannot understand, they were visibly possessed by the Spirit of God, for the Jewish Christians who came with Peter saw with wondering astonishment that" on the Gentiles was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The conviction implied in Peter's question, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we ? ” could not be challenged. “And He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
FOR THE BOYS. Tom WARREN was what the boys attending the same school were universally termed a good fellow." | two boys named Wilder. “Appro, He was good-natured and obliging. priately named," some of the vicIf one of the boys wanted the loan timised neighbours suggested, only of a sheet of paper or a few pence in the appellation should have been change, he was quite likely to be in the superlative degree. Never told to go to Tom Warren, who had an aflicted neighbourhood two was always fully supplied. In this greater pests than “ those Wilder Way Tom had many willing debtors, boys," at whose door was laid all and acquired the reputation of un- the mischief that occurred in their paralleled generosity. And in vicinity. truth Tom was a kind-hearted fel- "Tom," said Mr. Warren one low, but the liberality with which day, “it seems to me that you and he gave out stationery and small the Wilder boys are getting rather change sprang rather from the intimate. From what I hear I conweakness than from the strength of clude that they are pretty bad boys, his character. He hated to say and I should be sorry to have my "no," and would rather be fleeced son in their company very much. by some reckless fellow than incur Of course they are in the neighbours the risk of having him 6 down on hood, and we must treat them him," as he called it.
politely; but have just as little to In the same neighbourhood and I do with them as possible."