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the world in righteousness." "Just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints." "Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments."3
The apostle now proceeds to the purpose of this divine interposition, which had brought together so unexpectedly the assembly in which he found himself.
36. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)
37. That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached:
38. How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.
39. And we are witnesses of all things which he did, both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: ,
40. Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;
41. Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.*
42. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.
3 Rev. xv. 3; xvi. 7.
4 The different witnesses are recounted by St. Paul, 1 Cor. xv. 4—8.
43. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
"The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant."5 Cornelius and his household did fear God. We were told this, when he first was mentioned. And now his covenant is revealed to them. God makes this household the first fruits of the Gentiles, and sends his apostle, who shall bring them to the knowledge of Christ: shall "preach unto them Jesus, delivered for our offences, and risen again for our justification."
But mark, further, what it is no less important to observe. These truths are revealed to Cornelius. He is not passed by, as though he needed them not. It is not said concerning him, Here is a man who fears God with all his house, who gives much alms to the poor, who prays to God alway. Such an one needs no repentance, no remission of sin. On the contrary, to this devout and just man is the apostle sent, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: sent expressly "to tell him words, whereby he and all his house shall be saved."6 The salvation of Cornelius must still be due to that name, which is " the only name under heaven given among men, whereby we may be saved." Had he lived before the Son of God, coming in the flesh, had fulfilled the work of man's redemption, his salvation would have been still of Christ. He would have shared the blessing, though ignorant of its author; like those others "of every « Ps. xv. 14. 6 See the following chapter, v. 14.
nation, who fearing God and working righteousness are accepted of him." Now, however, through especial favour, the author of this salvation is revealed to him: and as we see in the account which follows, "not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance."7
44. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.
45. And they of the circumcision which believed, were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.
46. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
47. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?
48. And he commanded them to be baptised in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Like the star at the Saviour's birth,8 which conducted the Eastern strangers, till it " brought them to the place where the young child was;"—so now the vision related in this chapter had fulfilled the purpose for which God designed it. It had brought Cornelius to Peter, and Peter to Cornelius: the apostle of the Jews to the man of heathen race. It had shown to them of the circumcision, as many as came with Peter, that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. From this time all respect of persons should be done away: no man should forbid that the Gentiles should be received
'1 Thess. i. 5. 8 Matt. ii. 9.
into covenant. Before, we perceive plainly that it would have been forbidden. But now the will of God was made clear. God had "granted to the Gentiles also repentance unto life."
Thus another important step was taken in the progress of the gospel. "The people which walked in darkness have seen a great light: and upon them which lay in the valley of the shadow of death hath the light shined." The first fruits had been offered up of a vast harvest: of that "multitude which no man can number; which being baptized in the name of the Lord, shall be received into God's favour, engaged in his service, and prepared for his heavenly kingdom. And many would be the subjects of thankfulness and wonder with Peter and this converted household, when they prayed him to tarry with them certain days.
PETER EXPLAINS TO THE DISCIPLES OF JERUSALEM THE ADMISSION OF THE GENTILES TO THE PRIVILEGES OF THE GOSPEL.—A. D. 41.
Acts xi. 1—1#.
1. And the apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.
2. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him,1
3. Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.
The wide separation between the Jews and other nations is here brought again before us. So great had been the effect of their law, their worship, their ceremonies, and ordinances. It was made a serious charge against Peter, that he went in to men uncircumcised, and did eat with them. We might expect him to reply: God "has made of one blood all the nations of the earth." He in whom we believe, he "is able to save all that come to God through him." It was foretold of him, that he should "be a light to lighten the Gentiles." Ought I to hide that light? Ought I to close the treasure which has been opened? Ought I to say to them of the circumcision, God has mercy in store for you; but to the Gentile, he must perish in his sins 1
This he might justly have said, if he had not been himself a Jew by birth and education. But such he was; and, as such, he only defends himself, by appealing to the revelation of God.
4. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying,
5. / was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a
1 They of the circumcision: those who being Jews by birth had been circumcised in their infancy, and those who having become proselytes to the Jewish faith, had conformed to that ordi- * nance.