Obrazy na stronie


other, each might have said to Herod, "Thou couldst have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above." Well assured of this, the Christians had sought relief from God in their extremity. While Peter was kept in prison, prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And even in the dark hours of the night, when he came to the house of Mary,3 many were gathered together praying. They were led, no doubt, to join in supplication even at that unseasonable hour, because the danger was now imminent it was the night before he was to be brought forth, when the expectation of the people hadbeen roused to look for a malicious gratification. To human eye, there seemed no room for hope. Herod was determined: the people were implacable: the soldiers were watchful, the prison was secure. But is anything too hard for the Lord?" He sent his angel, and delivered Peter out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

It may be thought, that this deliverance, however wonderful, affords no encouragement to ourselves. The days of such interference were short, and have long since passed: and we do not expect

them to return.

God, however, has always means to execute his Other ministers besides angels may "do purposes. his pleasure." He can, when he will, open a pri

2 John xix. 11.

3 A sister of Barnabas: as appears by Col. iv. 10

son-door and he can, when he will, open a ruler's heart. In this case, instead of changing the mind of Herod, he performed a different miracle. But he might as easily have accomplished his purpose by turning the mind of Herod.

Let us therefore "ask in faith, nothing wavering" but believing the simple assurance, "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." In all the changes and chances of this mortal life, we have one comfort, and no other; we are permitted to "cast our care upon God, knowing that he careth for us:"5 and that "the angel of his presence" accompanies his people in all their troubles, and watches them in all their trials.



ACTS xii. 18-25.

18. Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter.

19. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Cesarea, and there abode.

20. And Herod was highly displeased with them of 4 James i. 6; v. 16. 51 Peter v. 7.

Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.

Here is a practical example of the wisdom which is recommended by our Lord, (Matthew v. 25,) "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilst thou art in the way with him." They of Tyre and Sidon were keenly alive to the disadvantages which they should suffer, if Herod were against them: their own country drew its wealth from their connexion with the territory over which he ruled, therefore they engaged a friend to mediate for them, and desired peace.

When the evil to be dreaded is of a temporal nature, it is quickly perceived and guarded against. But many can allow year after year to pass, without desiring peace with God without seeking to be reconciled to him, who can alone nourish them in prosperity or health in whom "they live and move;" and above all, to whom, at the last, they must "give account."

21. And upon a set day, Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them.

22. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.

23. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.

24. But the word of God grew, and multiplied.

25. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem,

when they had fulfilled their ministry,1 and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.

All disease and death come by the appointment of God, and all disease and death are the consequence of sin. "By one man sin came into the world, and death by sin." So that whether we witness the strong man "cut down like a flower," or the aged man gradually withering, we equally see the hand of God, we equally see the effect of sin.

But a case like this of Herod strikes the mind most forcibly. To-day he is arrayed in royal apparel, seated on his throne, courts and receives the applause of the surrounding multitude who give him honours to which man has no claim, which are due to God alone. For if there is "a spirit in

man," it is "the inspiration of the Almighty which giveth understanding."


Thus it is to-day. Herod is extolled as more than man. To-morrow he is less than man. It pleases God no longer to permit him the use of health and strength, which he did not employ to his glory. Immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. He is consumed by a loathsome disorder, more grievous than those which usually bring life to a close; and he whom so lately a whole people were applauding,

1 Charge, or service: especially that of carrying to the brethren in Judea the contributions from Antioch. Acts xi. 30. 2 Job xxxii. 8.

can scarcely command the services of the meanest attendant. Thus "pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”3

We have an example in the book of Daniel which much resembles this case of Herod. (Dan. iv. 30.) Nebuchadnezzar, like Herod, was lifted up by the pride of his wealth and majesty. "He walked in the palace, and the king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, for the honour of my majesty? While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar." His reason was taken from him,

and he became "as the beasts of the field."



expressly as a judgment upon his pride. he knew that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will."

Now contrast with this natural pride and vain glory the conduct which springs from the grace of God.

Solomon had a far greater share of understanding than Herod and the magnificence of " great Babylon," in which Nebuchadnezzar boasted, could not surpass the grandeur of the palace and the temple built by Solomon. But no sooner had he brought that vast and glorious work to an end, than his thoughts turned to Him by whose goodness he had been enabled to raise it. He de

3 Prov. xvi. 18.

« PoprzedniaDalej »