« AnteriorContinuar »
the unbelieving, the abominable," "shall be shut out for ever from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power." And there was a prophecy which might well alarm them, even in their own Moses in whom they trusted. He had foretold a prophet, whom the Lord should raise up to supersede himself, whom they should hear in all things: and every soul which will not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.
But this time of horror and destruction to the impenitent and unbelieving, should prove to the people of God a time of refreshing: a restitution of all things:. a restitution or a restoration of what had been ruined by sin. Now, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together."2 Then it "shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption." Now the elect of God are often a despised and suffering people, who "if in this life only they had hope," would have little encouragement to persevere. But "we look," as the same Peter says elsewhere, "we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." The times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord: when humble piety shall be exalted, when self-denying obedience shall be requited, when the original image which man has lost shall be completely restored.
And what were that assembly to expect, which the apostle was then addressing? What could they expect, who had refused to hear lhat prophet, who had rejected the author of this new nature, this restorer of all things?
m 2 Romans viii. 20.
They need not yet despair. Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come. That when " the books shall be opened, and men shall be judged according to the things which are written in the books," the sins which stand against you may appear to be blotted out, the "hand-writing of your offences taken out of the way," through the blood of that very cross on which ye crucified the Lord of glory.
Thus he both tells them what to fear and what to hope. "Hereafter they should see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.''5 But still they might see him as a Saviour who had favour for them, and not as a Judge who should condemn them. They might still repent and be converted, that their sins might be blotted out.
The whole concludes with further encouragement and consolation.
25. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying uoto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.
26. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.
Thus the language of soothing continues to the end. Here is a blessing, which is for all the nations of the earth; but to you first. "To the Jews first," the children of the prophets and of the covenant. In all things God gives our nation an "advantage, great every way." "Howthen shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?"
3 Matthew xxvii. C4.
And see, for what he has sent his Son. Not to condemn your unbelief, and hardness of heart, and contempt of his prophetic word; but to bless you: to bestow on you a real and everlasting good: to bless you, in turning away every one of you from, his iniquities.
It was said of the Lord from the first, "His name shall be called Jesus; for he shall save my people from their sins." In that character he is here exhibited, as sent to bless us, in turning away every one from his iniquities.
How important, to accustom ourselves to see things as God sees them; to judge of them as they are judged of by infinite wisdom! Had the world been left to choose its own blessing, we may question whether this would have been the one desired. To bless you, by removing the diseases which weigh down the corruptible body,— to bless you, by diminishing the labour which the necessities of life require,— to bless you, by making less self.denial requisite, and more indulgence allowable—these, perhaps, would be natural thoughts or wishes. But the thoughts of God "are not as our thoughts;" and he having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless us in turning away every one of us from his iniquities.
In his sight, then, this was the blessing which, men really needed; and this was the work to effect which the Saviour came. Not to introduce a new and different law, as if God could be served with half a heart, with such a share of obedience as men might choose to pay ;—not to atone for transgression unrepented or unforsaken ;—but to restore men to the love, and service, and favour of their Creator, by turning them away from those iniquities, which separate them from him.
This is the blessing which Christ came to bring. Are we convinced that he could bring no greater blessing? And is it our daily concern and aim to secure that blessing for ourselves?
PETER AND JOHN APPREHENDED AND EXAMINED BEFORE THE HIGH PRIEST AND CHIEF RULERS. - A. D. 33.
Acts iv. .1 —12.
1. And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple,1 and the Sadducees, came upon them,
2. Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
1 The captain of the company of Levites, who constantly attended at the temple.
3. And they laid hands upon them, and put them in hold until the next day: for it was now even-tide.
4. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
We here find persons holding very different views and sentiments united on one point, and taking counsel together against the Lord and against his anointed. The priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, made common cause against the apostles. The Sadducees were against them, being grieved that they opposed their own unbelief; that they taught the people and preached the resurrection of the dead. The priests were against them, because they preached the resurrection of the dead through Jesus. Neither the one or the other cared for truth: nor for anything except their own party and interests. The cause of religion and piety is often assailed by such trials; and those agree in opposing it, who, in other respects, are opposed to one another.
5. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and Scribes,
6. Arid Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander2 and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
7. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
2 Annas retained authority, though no longer actually high priest, which he had been for fifteen years, till Caiaphas his sonin.law was appointed in the year 26. Of John and Alexander nothing certain is known.