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in Christ. Believers were stirred up to "love and good works," and were "not barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus." That knowledge would supersede many worldly trifles which would otherwise occupy the mind and the mind and engross the time but it would not leave the mind unoccupied, or the time unemployed. There will always be things which may be done, and may be usefully done, which will not suffer the Christian to be idle. There will always be the young who may be watched over, the ignorant who may be instructed, the sorrowful who may be comforted, the destitute who may be relieved.

God shows his approval of this conduct, by the blessings which attend it; the inward comfort by which it is rewarded. It gives an interest to daily and ordinary life: it gives a value and importance to every passing day. And comfort it gives, too, in that hour to which Dorcas seemed to have come, and to which all must come: comfort from the evidence of faith which such a life attests. It proves that our faith, as Christians, has not been a barren creed, a lifeless profession, but an active principle in the soul: that the habits have been formed by it, the practice in agreement with it. We need, in that trying hour, a testimony that our religion has been real and true religion. And "true religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and keep ourselves unspotted from the world." 2

2 James i. 27.




ACTS x. 1-16.

1. There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

2. A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

3. He saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.'

4. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.

5. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter :

6. He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.

There are no certain means of knowing the exact time when this event took place. Ancient authorities fix it at about two years from our Lord's ascension. Burton earlier on the general ground of the improbability of the "call of the Gentiles" being so long protracted. This argument still more strongly opposes the common chronology of our Bible, which dates it as late as the year 41.

7. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;

8. And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

Hitherto the gospel had been preached to the Jewish people only. No others had been taught or invited to become disciples of Christ. His faith had been proclaimed in many countries beyond Judea; but only in the synagogues of the Jews who were settled in those lands. Such had been

the design" To the Jew first, and afterwards to the Gentile." The messengers (Luke xv. 21) who were sent to call the guests, and invite them to the banquet prepared, were first to visit the streets and lanes of the city, before they went out "into the highways and hedges," and compelled the strangers and wanderers to come in.

The time was now arrived when he who had appeared, that he might be "the glory of his people Israel," should be "a light to lighten the Gentiles," also. But tò explain this, and to convince the apostles that such was the design of God, an express command was needed a fresh revelation. There were prophecies direct and clear; but this plain meaning was hidden from the minds of those who read them. Such strong hold do the opinions of our country, the prejudices of our neighbourhood, the traditions of our fathers, possess over us. These are believed and followed, even in contra


Cæsarea was about a day's journey to the north of Joppa.
Romans xi. 9.

diction to what we ought first to be ruled by. The Jews boasted of Moses; yet could not see that he bore witness that Jesus was the Christ. They thought that in the scriptures they had eternal life; yet could not perceive that these "testified of Jesus." 4 And so, now, a special revelation was needed to prove that the people which "walked in darkness," were to "see great light:" that "the Gentiles should come to the light" of the Sun of righteousness, and "kings to the brightness of his rising." s

This revelation was made in the first place to Cornelius, himself a Gentile, an officer in the Roman army.

Supposing that any earthly sovereign had among his subjects a tribe which was held in light esteem, and that he desired to raise that tribe in the opinion of his people: he might promote his purpose by calling one of them into his service; distinguishing him by some particular token of favour, some unusual notice. Such was the method which God was pleased to follow in this case. He sent his angel, not to Peter, not to Barnabas, not to any one of the apostles, nor even of the Jews; but to a Gentile, a Roman soldier, a centurion of the band called the Italian band.

Still we must observe, that though a Gentile, he was not a man whom the grace of God visited now for the first time. In the divine providence, he had been sent into a land where the Jewish scriptures were known; where many of the inhabitants, 5 Isaiah ix. 2; lx. 3.

4 John v. 39.

being Jews, were worshippers of the true God, and separated from the idolatrous practices which pre vailed around them. Cornelius had not despised this foreign tribe, this superstitious brotherhood, as their heathen neighbours termed the Jews: he had opened his eyes to the truths declared by Moses and the prophets; had become a devout man, one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.

Such was the man whom God selected as an instrument to make his will known to show to Peter, by an evident example, that the veil was now to be removed which had hitherto excluded Gentiles from the knowledge of God and his righteousness. God had accepted his prayers and his alms: he was "not far from the kingdom of God:" and now that kingdom should be opened to him in all its glory.

In obedience to the heavenly vision, Cornelius sends his men to Joppa. Meanwhile, at Joppa, God was preparing that they should be received.

9. On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour:

6 He is an example of that class of proselytes who are called proselytes of the gate; who adopted the Hebrew belief, without conforming to the Mosaic law. Therefore, though a worshipper of the true God, he was a Gentile in the eye of the Jews. He "of the uncircumcision." See on this point Mede, Disc. iii.


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