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THE HISTORY OF CORNELIUS. What are the lessons to be learned from this history ? The first lesson we may learn from this interesting history is, that we should be found diligent in the means God has appointed, since it is in them we often meet with a blessing. “This Roman soldier was a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway” (Acts x. 2).
There, then, was a praying character, a saved man no doubt under the old dispensation, as the men who were sent by him to Peter testified that
a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews" (22nd verse). He says Himself, in the 30th
, verse, “At the ninth hour I prayed in my house." And, as a proof that He was a child of God, the angel said to Him, “Thy prayer is heard." Very likely he was asking for God's teaching, who, as is most usual with Him, is pleased to work by instruments, sent Peter to him to instruct him concerning Jesus; "and he [Peter] shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do" (6th verse).
The second lesson we may learn is, that great one Peter was taught, that God is no Respecter of persons, and that we should recognize as brethren all, both rich and poor, who love one Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and in truth, extending to them the right hand of fellowship. “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” “But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him," and should be beloved by us, as heirs together with us of the kingdom of God.
The third lesson we may learn is, that while Cornelius was found praying at the ninth hour of the day, or 3 o'clock according to our manner of reckoning, Peter likewise retired to pray “about the sixth hour," or 12 o'clock, setting us an example that the early Christians did not confine themselves to morning and evening, but frequently sought an opportunity of holding communion with the Father of their spirits.
“ Seven times a day do I praise Thee because of Thy righteous judgments.” And Daniel we are told, “prayed three times å day to the Lord his God.” But the Apostle Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to "pray without ceasing, and "in everything give thanks.”
6 Constant ejaculatory petitions appear to be the true spirit of prayer, because every Christian cannot shut himself up in his closet as frequently as he would. But, blessed be God, wherever His people are, there is the temple of the Holy Ghost, for He has said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them.”
The fourth lesson we learn is, when God says "Arise,” it is our duty to obey the call, doubting nothing" as Peter was advised (verse 20th), for we may take it for granted the Lord has something for us to do, and intends to use us in some way for His own glory.
The fifth lesson we learn is, that our religion should not be of a selfish kind. Cornelius “called together his kinsmen and near friends” to hear what Peter would say unto them, ver. 24. And in ver. 33 he says, * Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." So likewise should we be zealously anxious, that all our relations and friends might share with us the privileges we enjoy, and be very earnest in trying to bring them under the sound of the Gospel.
The sixth lesson taught us is, though we should give all honour to the instruments used by God for our good, and “ esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake,” yet we must beware of idolatry. Cornelius erred in this respect: “And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet and worshipped him.” We should imitate the example of the now humbled Peter, who had learned to know himself, "Stand up; I myself also am a man.
There is yet a very important lesson to be learned, and the more so as it has a considerable bearing on the times in which we live.* I allude to the extraordinary power which accompanied the word as spoken by Peter, and the remarkable results which followed. " While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word " (ver. 44). Then the result; "For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” Why should not the result be as striking and sudden now? and why may we not look for an immediate descent of the Holy Ghost into the hearts of those He enables to receive the word ? The gift of speaking with tongues or in other languages, is not necessary in this part of the world, but that all who are called in this wonderful manner can, and do, magnify God is a feature so closely resembling the same effects of the apostle's preaching, that we ought not doubt the Source of it is the same.
Jesus was the one name that charmed the ears of those early believers, and is it not the talismanic word which brings peace to the sin-stricken heart now? Especially when it can be said individually, “He died for me."
“ How sweet the name of Jesus sounds,
In a believer's ear;
And drives away his fear.
And calms the troubled breast;
THE WORLD WHEN CHRIST COMES. It is clearly set forth in the Scriptures, that the return of Christ to judgment will find the world anything but holy, peaceful, Christian, and happy ; and that the last days will be earth's worst days, crowded with all forms of abounding wickedness, apostasy, irreligion, disorder, and sensuality. Indeed, it is one of the uniform laws of Providence, that judgment never comes in a pure and peaceful age. It is only when the blasphemies of men run highest that the Almighty strikes. When the wickedness of the whole world culminated, the flood came. When the iniquities of Sodom were at their height, the day of doom dawned. When the “iniquity of the Amorites was full,” the sword of Israel was upon them for their extermination. When the Jews, in their many crimes and apostasy, added responsibility for the Messiah's blood, the ploughshare of destruction overturned their city, destroyed the last remnant of their state, and entailed eighteen centuries of woe upon their
* The above was written during a Revival in different parts of the country, and, though the writer has no sympathy with every movement so called, yet doubtless there were many genuine as well as some spurious conversions; for where God works, Satan is sure to try to imitate.
children. The greatness of judgment is also graduated by the extent and turpitude of the offences which call it down. As all divine judgments, hitherto, have been samples and earnests of the great judgment to come, and as that, when it comes, is to be the most universal and awful of all, we are forced to the conclusion that it will overtake the world in a condition of the most unbounded guilt and godlessness, transcending everything that has thus far marked the history of man.
To this, also, agree all the scriptural statements on the subject: “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth ?” (Luke xviii. 7, 8). “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man" (Luke xvii. 26, 27). We know what sort of days those of Noah were. We know that they were not centuries of righteousness and peace. The testimony of God certifies to us what was the state of things. The inspired record is, that “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The earth also was corrupt before God; and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt : for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Gen. vi. 1-13). Such is the awful portrait of those times, sketched by the Holy Ghost Himself. And the word of the divine Jesus, more than once recorded, is: “As THE DAYS OF NOE WERE, SO SHALL ALSO THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN BE” (Matt. xxiv. 37–39). We know, too, from the same infallible source, what was the moral estate of the cities of the plain at the time they were overwhelmed. Lord said, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and their sin is very grievous." Not ten righteous men could be found in all their teeming populations (Gen. xviii. 20—32; xix, 1–17). But the word of Jesus is : “Likewise, also, as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all: even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke xvii. 28-30). Paul testifies to the same effect : “ This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemous, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Tim. iii. 1–9). And, if this correctly portrays what is to be the prevailing condition of the professing Church, what shall be said of the vulgar multitudes who make no pretensions to piety or godliness ?Prophetic Times.
Satan aims to perplex and disquiet the spirit of a believer, in order to bring him into a spirit of discontent. He aims at the molesting of the mind, to disturb its motion towards God.
God fits His instruments for His work. We have edited nearly one-fourth of a century, and we are impressed with the fact that the present period is one of more unrest and disquiet religiously—a period in which the religious mind of all denominations is more unsettled and inquiring, more anxious and solicitous—than ever before within our knowledge..-Baptist.
EARTHQUAKES. For fifteen months earthquakes have been of constant occurrence. The earth has been shaking almost continually, on land and sea, island and continent; in 80-called Christian lands as well as heathen. Men of science are troubled to know the meaning, while a lukewarm Church looks on with perfect indifference, and says, “Earthquakes always have been.” But the Bible points out unmistakably to us the fact that they will occur in terribly quick succession in the closing hours of this dispensation, and thus our Saviour's words, in Luke xxi. 26, will be perfectly fulfilled.
Within the past two years there have been over twenty of the “neverbefore-heard-of tidal waves,” beside the frequency of submarine earthquakes agitating the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans, attended with unusual roarings noticed and reported by seamen; an account of one of the latest of which I herewith append :
Captain Christie, of the barque Euphrosyne, relates that when his vessel was in latitude about 16.40 south, and longitude 4 west, on the Atlantic, the sky suddenly became overcast, with dense, black-looking clouds, and in all directions was heard a noise resembling distant cannonading, while the sea became tossed and confused. To these signs of agitation another was added of peculiar significance. The compass vibrated largely, and almost lost its polarity—a sure sign that a terrestrial disturbance of great extent and violence was in progress. Several large meteors shot out from the heavens a phenomenon which can be hardly associated with the occurrence of submarine disturbance, unless we suppose that burning matter had been projected from some submarine volcano, and that the flying masses were mistaken by Captain Christie for meteoric bodies. The fish jumped out of the sea and struck against the sides of the ship, and the trembling of the vessel could be distinctly felt as well as heard. Both the last-named phenomena point so distinctly to submarine action as to remove all doubt which might be suggested by the appearance of meteors. The intense heat of the matter thrown out in submarine convulsions invariably drives the fish away from the neighbourhood, killing large quantities of those which happen to be near the outlet from which the burning matter is being erupted. Captain Christie relates that the volcanic action of the sea continued during the night until sunrise, when the weather became clear and settled.
From the light of prophecy we may expect more of these terrible upheavings of the earth and sea, until the great and final shaking shall come, represented by the prophets and the Revelator, where there will be no hiding-place, only in the pavilion of the Almighty. How blessed the words of Paul, which are a continual source of comfort to us here, “Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief;" and, if found ready, “shall be caught up to meet our Lord in the air,” and thus be safe for ever from all the surrows which shall overwhelm a guilty world. A religion, a Christianity without the Holy Spirit, will profit us nothing in that day.
“There is a religion of the intellect, of the sense, of the fancy, of the flesh, of the creed, of the liturgy, of the catechism, of nature, of poetry, of sentiment, of mysticism, of humanity; but what are these without the Spirit of Christ ? Christianity without Christ-what would that be? Worship without God—what would that be? So religion without the Holy Spirit-what would that be?"
Sermons and Notes of Sermons.
NOTES OF A SERMON,
NOVEMBER 22ND, 1868.
(Concluded from page 151.) " For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”.
" LUKE xix. 10. WELL, to return: Jesus said to Zacchæus, "Make haste and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house;" and then we read, “And he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.” Joyfully! not reluctantly; not shamefacedly; not fearingly, fearing the scorn of the others; no, nor fearfully, as it were—but joyfully. And what made him receive Jesus joyfully? Oh, there must have been some special work upon
his heart to make him open his house and heart to receive Jesus. A favoured man was Zacchæus! But would you not receive Jesus joyfully, if He should come into your heart to-day? This is what we want. Are you not made oftentimes to pray, “Come, come, dear Lord, come now, come quickly: now, dear Lord; make haste, my God, make haste ?” that He may come and take you out of your darkness, out of your hardness, out of your wretchedness, fears, and sorrows, and give you some of His blessedness, for the Lord can do it. Some do not know that, perhaps, but there are others of you who do know that the Lord can. Why? Because He has done it before, and gladdened you with His presence and with His love. Said David, "He has put more gladness in my heart than in the time when their corn and wine and oil increased," -more than all their blessings, all their riches, and all the goodness of this world. Do you know anything of that? I hope you have known what this is, my dear friends, which is far better than “when the corn, wine, and oil is increased.” Yes, when the Lord gives you to drink of that wine which maketh glad the heart of man.
Precious wine! What can compare with the wine of Christ's blood : the blessed wine of Christ's sufferings, which cheereth both God and man? “ What, God drink wine?” He will rejoice at the consummation of Christ's work; that shall cheer His heart, for He shall then “see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied.” Yes, and the Father shall have gladness at the work of Christ. And shall not you ? That is what we want-gladness at the work of Christ. Why? Because of the sorrows of this world, temptations within, and because of the devil's work and influence. When speaking sometimes of the devil's influence, some people say, “What have we to do with the devil ?” My dear friends, the saints have to do with him the most; the saints are plagued by him all their lives. Of course men of the world have to do with him, but they do not know it; they are “carried captive by him at his will;" as you were by nature. They wear the devil's chains, and others may even hear the rattling of the chains upon them, and yet they themselves do not know it. Yes, the saints hear the rattling of their chains, and are reminded of the time when theirs rattled upon them, while they were doing the devil's work, and he was practising upon them.
Now I say, because of all these things, we want a little gladness in our hearts; we want a little “ taste that the Lord is gracious ;" we want a