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the church defend him with such assistance as God had granted them. Prayer without ceasing was made of the church unto God for him. We need hardly be told, that it was not cold or formal prayer; but urgent and incessant: such prayer as men might use who saw there was no other help, whose hearts were still bleeding from the loss of James, and who felt the inestimable value of Peter to the church.

For the present, we leave them thus engaged. But not without remarking what often appears in this history, the different tempers of the parties. On the one side was Herod, intending and preparing for cruelty, that he might gratify the bad passions of the people, which as a governor he ought to have restrained; and the people themselves waiting in malicious expectation, that they might indulge their enmity against the apostle. On the other side, were assemblies of persons, not stirring up adverse passions, not opposing evil by evil, but addressing themselves to God, and laying their case before him: not imploring his anger to avenge them of their enemies, but his mercy to preserve their friend.



Surely Herod's cause is not as the Christian's even our enemies themselves being judges."7 On one side envy, hatred, wrath, malice on the other, gentleness, humbleness of mind, meekness, faith, long-suffering. Surely it

5 EKTEUηg, intense.


7 Deut. xxxi, 32.

See verse 11.

is manifest which party is led by the Spirit of God. Surely we shall say, each one for himself, this "people shall be my people, and their God my God." 8



ACTS xii. 6-17.

6. And 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.

7. 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.

8. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals: and so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me.

9. 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.

10. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord and they went

8 See Ruth i. 16.


out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.


When our Lord (Luke iv. 16—19) gives account of the purposes for which he had come into the world, one of these purposes is that he might bring deliverance to the captives, and set at liberty them that are bound." He does not speak of such captivity, or such deliverance as that of Peter here. But there is room for a comparison which deserves attention.

The enmity of Satan had stimulated Herod, taking advantage of his natural character, to exercise his power against the apostle; and when the angel found him, he was sleeping between two soldiers. Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. It was a different sleep from that in which the ungodly man is lying. One is the repose of peace the other a death-like slumber. But still it furnishes an example. It well represents the state in which the sinner is found, the victim, not of Herod, but of Satan, if God sees fit to awake him. He is tied and bound with the chain" of his habitual sins; he is sleeping in the lethargy of indifference towards all spiritual things: and those around him, who are living in the same bondage, keep the prison; by their discourse, by their habits, and by the restraint which they occasion, they prevent any access to him of such instruction or advice as shall interrupt the sleep of death in which he lies.

When it pleased God to deliver Peter, 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 the chains fell off from his hands.

So it sometimes happens, and no less unexpectedly, that a sinner is roused from his apathy. Some voice of the Lord's sending, whether of sorrow, or misfortune, or advice, or example, seems to say to him, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead." He is brought to see, what he had never seen before a light shines in the prison, discovering to him at once his state of danger, and his way of safety and he is warned to arise up quickly, for "the time is short:" to "seek the Lord while he may be found :" to "return unto the Lord, that he may abundantly pardon."

There is a source, from which the light is derived. That source is Christ; who declared of himself, "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me may not abide in dark ness."

There is an object, on which the light is thrown. Christ is that object. The light which shines from him, directs to him for his words are, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

And soon, the chains fall from his hands. The fetters are loosed, which before had bound him : the sins which had held him fast, as by walls that could not be surmounted, give way before the omnipotent command. He is delivered from the worst bondage, the most oppressive tyranny, and

walks "in the glorious liberty" of the children of God. He experiences the reality of that gracious promise, "The truth shall make you free." And I may add, like Peter here, he is impatient to avow from whom he has received the blessing.

11. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

12. And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

13. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.

14. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.

15. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.'

16. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.

17. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.

The ways of God are always directed by the same wisdom, though they are not always similar. He saw fit to deliver Peter, though he had permitted the death of James. In one case as in the

' Spoken, probably, under some superstitious notion of the occasional appearance of the form and likeness of a person about the period of his departure from the world.

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