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“ drink; I was a stranger, and ye
took me in; naked and ye clothed me; I 56 was sick, and ye visited me; I was in
prison, and ye came unto me. For, in“ asmuch as ye have done it unto the " least of these little ones, ye have it unto
Enter therefore into the joy of
Acts X. 1, 2.
There was a certain man in Cæsarea, called
Cornelius, a Centurion of the band called the Italian band: a devout man, and one that feared God with his whole house, which gave much alms unto the people, and prayed to God always.
E have in this short account of the
Centurion Cornelius the picture of a very amiable and excellent, man, who, though not enlightened with the knowledge of Christianity, is highly deserving of the imitation of the most perfect Christians in every part of his conduct. If we consider him in his private character, the text tells us, “ he was a devout man;"
devout, not only in the inward frame and temper of his soul, but also in the outward acts of religion; devout, not by sudden starts or transient raptures of piety, but by a regular and uniform constancy in devotion, for “ he prayed to God al
ways.” If we consider him as a father or master over his own houshold, we find him careful to diffuse his own religious principles through his whole family; for he was not only a devout man himself, but
one that feared God, with all his house." And if we consider him in his relation to the rest of mankind, we find him animated hy a warm philanthropy, which displayed itself in acts of liberality and charity: for “ he
much alms to the people.”
Thus this good Centurion, though by his profession of arms exposed to all the temptations of rapine and extortion, so constantly then practised by the Roman soldiers, and to the corruption and immoralities so generally to be found amongst military men of all ages, was by his eminent and exemplary virtues excellently prepared for the reception of the gospel: when God was pleased to make him as eminent an example of his favour, in the manner and order of his conversion to Christianity. For he had the honour, not only of being the first Gentile called to the Christian faith, but also of being called to it by the message of an angel, with this honourable testimony of his piety and charity, “ that his prayers and alms were
come up for a memorial before God."
Having then so amiable a pattern before us, recommended by the sanction of God himself, it will be worth our while to consider the several parts of it more distinctly, that they may make a more lasting and forcible impression upon our minds and conduct.
1. The text first points out to us the singular piety of Cornelius. 66 Now Cor“ nelius was a devout man, that prayed “ to God always :" he was one, who, by frequent meditation and regular acts of devotion, had wrought the habit of his mind into a religious and heavenly disposition. Not that it was possible for him VOL. IV. L