Acts 10:30
Cornelius answered: "Four days ago, I was in my house praying at this, the ninth hour. Suddenly a man in radiant clothing stood before me
Sermons
God is no Respecter of Persons'Alexander MaclarenActs 10:30
A Good Man's ConversionC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 10:1-48
Broadening FoundationsP.C. Barker Acts 10:1-48
CorneliusW. M. Taylor, D. D.Acts 10:1-48
CorneliusJames Owens.Acts 10:1-48
CorneliusW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Acts 10:1-48
CorneliusPreacher's MonthlyActs 10:1-48
Cornelius of CaesareaG. M. Grant, B. D.Acts 10:1-48
Cornelius the Truth SeekerC. H. Payne, D. D.Acts 10:1-48
Cornelius, a Monument of the Omnipotence of GraceK. Gerok.Acts 10:1-48
Cornelius, an Example of PietyJ. T. Woodhouse.Acts 10:1-48
Cornelius, the Truth SeekerJ. G. Hughes.Acts 10:1-48
Cornelius: a Model for VolunteersG. Venables, M. A.Acts 10:1-48
Cornelius; Or, New Departures in ReligionJ. Clifford, D. D.Acts 10:1-48
DreamsG. H. James.Acts 10:1-48
Family DevotionC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 10:1-48
Peter's VisionR. T. Stevenson.Acts 10:1-48
Peter's VisionD. J. Burrell D. D.Acts 10:1-48
The Character and Conversion of CorneliusR. P. Buddicom, M. A.Acts 10:1-48
The Character of CorneliusG. Spence, D. C. L.Acts 10:1-48
The Conversion of the GentilesJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 10:1-48
The Providential Guidance of the ChurchDean Alford.Acts 10:1-48
The Supernatural PreparationD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 10:1-48
Man in God's Sight; Or, Divine ImpartialityW. Clarkson Acts 10:9-48
Peter and CorneliusE. Johnson Acts 10:23-34
The First Trumpet-Sound of the Gospel in the Heathen WorldR.A. Redford Acts 10:23-43
Model Pastoral VisitationK. Gerok.Acts 10:24-33
Peter and CorneliusJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 10:24-33
Peter and CorneliusG. S. Rowe.Acts 10:24-33
A Model AudienceB. D. Johns.Acts 10:30-48
A Model CongregationD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 10:30-48
A Model CongregationWilliam Forsyth, A. M.Acts 10:30-48
Attending At Ordinances EnforcedR. Watson.Acts 10:30-48
Complemental MinistryW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 10:30-48
Concerning Audiences, Preachers, Sermons, and ConversionsJ. McNeill.Acts 10:30-48
Congregations to be Well Fed with the TruthC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 10:30-48
Cornelius and PeterM. C. Hazard.Acts 10:30-48
Cornelius's Sending and Peter's ComingJ. W. Burn.Acts 10:30-48
Different Kinds of HearersT. Boston, D. D.Acts 10:30-48
Don't Grumble About the FodderActs 10:30-48
Hearing and its Proper EffectsJ. Newton.Acts 10:30-48
Interested HearersActs 10:30-48
Peter and CorneliusG. Leach, D. D.Acts 10:30-48
Peter At CaesareaT. J. Holmes.Acts 10:30-48
Peter At CaesareaD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 10:30-48
Punctuality in Attendance At ChurchCyclopoedia of Illustrative AnecdotesActs 10:30-48
The Best Remedy for Small CongregationsActs 10:30-48
The Gospel to the GentilesDean Vaughan.Acts 10:30-48
The Ideal CongregationD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 10:30-48
The Model CongregationWatson Smith.Acts 10:30-48
The Reciprocal Duties of a Minister and of His PeopleJ. Hughes, M. A.Acts 10:30-48
Truth Liked as a Sentiment, But Disliked as a Law of LifeH. W. Beecher.Acts 10:30-48
Various Kinds of HearersH. Smith.Acts 10:30-48

I. THE RECEPTION OF THE CHRISTIAN APOSTLE BY THE GENTILE CONVERT. Here were Jew, Gentile, and Christian visibly brought into juncture and unity in the persons of these two men.

1. The Roman officer gives a noble reception to Peter, at once a true Jew and a true Christian, by calling together his kindred and friends. He desires that others may partake of spiritual gifts and blessings - a true mark of love. We become poor by giving earthly goods away; rich by imparting of those that are spiritual. Perhaps there is commonly too much reserve in such relations. We assume reluctance where we might meet with a ready response on the part of friends to such invitations.

2. Cornelius feels deep reverence for the person of the apostle; fell at his feet on his entrance, to do him homage. The Romans were an intensely religious people in their way. They recognized the numen, or Divine power, in all the great objects of the creation. It was a profound mystical instinct, needing only proper direction.

II. THE CHRISTIAN APOSTLE'S DEMEANOUR TOWARDS THE GENTILE CONVERT. "Rise! I also am a man." "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" had been his confession to Jesus; and on this he had been appointed fisher of men. Perhaps he remembers that incident now, and, in view of the respect and preparations of Cornelius, repeats, "I am also a man." "Cornelius does too much in his reverence towards a living and genuine saint; then how can prayer to the images of saints be justified?" No true successor of Peter is he, nor has he Peter's humble mind, who suffers his feet to be kissed. The worship of the instrument obscures the honor of the Divine Agent. The word of Peter rebukes, not only the worship of saints, but all excessive hero-reverence and worship paid to great men in the Church.

III. THE CONNECTION OF EVENTS EXPLAINED.

1. There was a great prejudice to be overcome. (Ver. 28.) The prejudice of the Jew against intercourse with the stranger. No barrier in nature, no mountain to be crossed or traveled, river to be forded, waste to be reclaimed, is comparable to the obstinacy and difficulty of prejudice, most of all of religious prejudice. And where in all the pages of history do we find a prejudice equal in strength to that of the Jew against the Gentile?

2. The Divine victory over prejudice. God had shown that "no man is to be called common or unclean. Immense word! Not yet has its meaning been exhausted; not yet, perhaps, begun to be truly unfolded. How profound the strength and the comfort which flows from such a clear word of God? For the preacher, teacher, missionary, every kind of worker for anthropic good, it is a clear light, a clue to hand and heart alike. The ideal human nature is pure and beautiful, for God made it - whatever actual human nature in the individual may be. 'Tis this thought gives inspiration. Peter will not hesitate to come to the Gentile's house when he is filled with it; and we may face the facts of the life of the nations, as they are now being so abundantly unfolded to us by scientific inquiry, with intelligent interest and cheerful hope, with the light of the gospel resting broadly over the whole field of inquiry. Such is the impulse which has brought Peter hither. But why have they sent for him? The answer will disclose:

3. Further coincidences. Cornelius now relates his vision. He, too, had been praying and seeking. To him, too, an apocalypse had been given; and the Divine finger had pointed Jew-wards, as to Peter it had pointed Gentile-wards. Equally Divine is the call; with equal promptness obeyed. Cornelius has sent, Peter has done well to come. Happy meeting, divinely brought about, and pregnant with Divine consequences! Such a series of events indicates God's hand, prepares the mind to listen to God's voice. The inarticulate voice of events is his voice, and it prepares us to listen to that which is clear and definite. - J.







And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting.
We welcome his revelation that the grace of God has so boundless a reach; that in His government men are accountable not for knowledge which they have not, but for what they have. It suggests certain practical lessons like the following:

I. IT IS OUR PRIVILEGE TO EXERCISE A WIDE CHARITY TOWARD RELIGIONS WHICH DIFFER FROM OUR OWN. We have the authority of Scripture for recognising the truth wherever found. No one of the apostles stands more resolutely for sound doctrine, for righteous living, than Paul; yet more than once he takes pains to quote from heathen writers opinions that are correct as far as they go. He believed that so far as they had any truth, it was the truth of God. We have a feeling sometimes that to acknowledge anything of good in one who is not a Christian, or in a Church with which we have no fellowship, or in a nation that is in spiritual darkness, is disloyalty to God; but we are really doing Him larger honour to believe that something of His image is left in His creatures everywhere; that, in the plenitude of His grace, His Spirit is working to some extent in all men the fruits of righteousness; that He only demands of His creatures, in Christian or in heathen lands, to follow the knowledge which they have; that "in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him."

II. WE MAY BE INSPIRED BY THE VIRTUES OF THE PAGANS. It is a part of charity not only to recognise virtue anywhere, but to be willing to copy it. That is a high attainment in the study of this grace. If a man is, in your judgment, a heathen or a heretic, it is humiliating to admit that he can teach you anything of goodness; but perhaps he can. He may have some excellencies that are far beyond yours in the same line. Why should you not make these a subject of study and emulation? Certainly it is not disparaging the Christian system; it is not reflecting upon God; they all came from Him; they are not the product of the human will; they are fruits of the Spirit, and in copying them you are but copying God. For example, the Stoics, who knew little of Christianity, had rules for right living as exalted in some particulars as those prescribed by Christian men in any age. One of their philosophers says of human depravity: "Let us first persuade ourselves of this, that there is not one of us without fault." "If you wish to be good, first believe that you are bad." That is as strong as the Saviour's words: "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." Another, writing of self-examination, refers to an old scholar who, when the day was over and he went to rest, used to ask himself, "What evil have you cured today? What vice have you resisted? In what particular have you improved?" That would be a good rule for Christians. Here is another precept: "What ought not to be done, do not even think of doing." Virtues like these were taught by a few, at least, centuries before the Christian era. There seems ground for the opinion that the prevalence of these to such an extent helped to prepare the world for the gospel, as St. admitted that he had been led first toward Christianity by the stoical teachings of . A flower that springs up in a field of weeds and surprises you with its fragrance, is as really the work of a Divine Creator as that which grows in a gardener's bed. Virtue is always Divine, and wherever she leads it is safe to follow.

III. WE OUGHT TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE LIGHT OF CHRISTIANITY. But why, if there is so much to commend in the pagan philosophers? What need is there of the gospel? This simply: religion is something more than a system of ethics. If it be asked more definitely what was it that they lacked as compared with us, the answer is many sided; but this is its substance: they lacked Christ. Here, then, is a vast gulf between those sages and ourselves. They did not have the idea, as we do, of a personal God — a Father, a Friend. More particularly they did not know Jesus, did not have Him as a guide. With all their beautiful precepts, they had no example; they did not know of anyone who had ever obeyed these laws. One of them writes, "Follow the guidance of nature: that is the great thing." What a rule for a weak human being! One of them speaks of waiting for death with a cheerful mind; but look back a sentence or two, and see what he means: "What, then, is that which is able to enrich a man? One thing, and only one — philosophy." That is as far as their wisdom rose. That is why we have reason for gratitude that we know of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of men. He is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." "Every man," whoever, wherever, whatever he is. If anyone claims that he is sufficient in himself, and needs no Divine revelation other than that which comes from his own consciousness, he is making a fatal mistake; he cannot quote Cornelius as an example.

(T. J. Holmes.)

Peter's bringing of the gospel to Cornelius, and Cornelius' subsequent baptism, seem very much matters of course to us; but they were revolutionary. They were like John Wesley's ordination of men to preach the gospel in America. Thenceforth he knew he had violated the canons of the Church of England. Thenceforth Peter knew that he had repudiated Judaism as a necessary preparative to Christianity.

I. CORNELIUS' PREPARATION. No man can make himself worthy of God's blessing. But one can so prepare himself for the Divine blessing, that it shall come more easily down and find a quicker acceptance. In this sense Cornelius had made ready for God. He says he was fasting at the time the special revelation came to him, and, indeed, it was at the very moment of prayer (ver. 30). God's ways of dealing with men conform to none of the laws which we might construct. We cannot say that religious exercises, in which Cornelius was engaged, offer the only occasions when God may come to men. We recall Balaam, addressed when on an ungodly mission; we recall Saul, converted while journeying to persecute the saints. But these revelations were not in congruity with the soul's antecedents. They came by crushing down opposition. Yet we are safe in saying that such is not God's usual way of granting insight into His truth. We cannot bind God by law; but conversely we can assert law of ourselves, and say confidently that prayer and all religious exercises are used by God in leading us into new visions of truth. The angel told Cornelius that his prayerful and upright life had commended him to God for His blessing (ver. 31). What God remembered was not Cornelius' worthiness of a blessing, but his fitness for a blessing, shown by the desire for it, witnessed to, by a prayerful and righteous life. Cornelius' life commended him to God not as accomplishment, but as a sign of aspiration. A good man is one who wants to be better. For such God's blessing is surely prepared. Being of such a temper of mind, it was natural that Cornelius showed an immediate acceptance of God's revelation and an immediate obedience toward it (ver. 33).

II. PETER'S ADDRESS was the fuller form of God's answer to Cornelius. The appearance of the angel, and the directions he gave, were only preliminary to something else. This was furnished by Peter; it was the revelation of Christ as a Saviour. Peter's address divides itself easily into three parts —

1. The introduction (vers. 34, 35) lays down the double statement that God is no respecter of persons, but that a good man, whatever his nationality, is accepted of Him. The special lesson needed by Peter and the other leaders of the Church then was that circumstantials make no difference to God. The passage has been immensely abused by misinterpretation. It has been supposed to teach that all religions are equally pleasing to God; from which has been deduced the inference that our duty is to let men alone in their religions, and not try to convert them to Christianity. But if Cornelius was already in the proper condition Godward, why did he need conversion? Again, the passage has been used to teach the doctrine that if one is a good man, and tries conscientiously to do his duty towards his fellow men, and reveres God, he is all right, is "accepted with Him," and needs nothing more. Faith in Christ is thus not enumerated among the things necessary to reconciliation with God. But if to fear God and to work righteousness were enough in Cornelius, why did Peter preach to him the gospel? The truth is, "accepted" here does not mean accepted as all he ought to be, but accepted as a proper subject for that work of conversion which tends to make one what he ought to be.

2. The main part of Peter's address describes the life and function of Jesus (vers. 36-42). The external facts of His career are touched upon in such a way as to show the solid grounding of His supernatural work upon indisputable material fact.

3. The application of Peter's address (ver. 43) makes the doctrines concerning Christ which he has just stated practical and pointed. Christ is given to men that "whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." The other functions of Christ do not press so immediately upon us as His office as a Saviour. To miss this is to miss all that He would have us know.

III. THE BLESSING FROM ON HIGH CAME WHILE PETER WAS SPEAKING. The Holy Ghost fell upon them (ver. 44). No distinction of nationality was observed by the heavenly Visitor.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

I. READY TO HEAR THE WORD. Cornelius was a Roman centurion — in modern phrase, heathen. How did he become ready to hear the Word?

1. By prayer. At the time the angel came he was engaged in prayer. This prayer was not a mere form.(1) He had not stopped just when the ninth hour expired, but had persisted in his supplications "until this hour." It is fair to infer from that, that he was in earnest about something. Such prayers only are effective. General prayers, that seek for nothing specific, get just what they seek, and no more. It is safe to take the mission of the angel as an answer to Cornelius' prayer, and to deduce that Cornelius was praying that he might be shown the way of salvation (Acts 11:14).(2) The angel came in response to his prayer. No celestial messengers are sent where the prayers are merely formal.

2. By a vision. His vision was not a dream or a trance. "He saw in a vision openly" (Acts 10:3). He was wide awake, as one engaged in earnest prayer could not help but be. "A man stood before me in bright apparel." Cornelius tells how he looked. Luke tells what he was (Acts 10:3.) When Cornelius saw him, he was affrighted, and said, "What is it, Lord?" The celestial character of his visitor, the circumstances of his appearing, and the fear that sinful mortals must ever feel in the presence of sinless immortals, combined to compel Cornelius to accept without questioning whatever the angel might say.

3. By the angel's words. They were —(1) Words of assurance. "Thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance." Faith now takes the place of an angel in assuring all who approach the throne of grace that their prayers have prevailed. Neither are their alms or good deeds forgotten. "God is not unrighteous," etc. The declaration that his prayers and his alms were gone up for a memorial before God, gave comfort and prepared for further revelation.(2) Words of direction. "Send therefore to...Peter." Whatever Peter might say had celestial endorsement beforehand. Many hearts are Divinely made ready for the reception of the gospel, when the Spirit moves one to speak the words of life. But observe, the angel himself did not tell the story of the Cross to Cornelius. He left that to Peter. No one can tell the story of redemption so well as one who himself has been redeemed. That Cornelius was thus prepared to hear the Word is made evident —(a) By his sending for Peter. He sent "forthwith." He was in haste to hear.(b) By his commendation of Peter. "Thou hast well done that thou art come." Cornelius believed that Peter was about to do that which would show him that he was right in disregarding the ceremonial barriers between Jew and Gentile.(c) By his declaration to Peter. "Now therefore we are an here present in the sight of God to hear." Cornelius had improved the time while waiting for Peter to come (ver. 24). He was in earnest to learn the way of life, not only for himself, but for all of his friends.

II. PROCLAIMING THE WORD. We turn now from Cornelius to Peter.

1. The truth perceived.(1) "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." Until this moment, Peter had not known why he had been sent for, nor the real meaning of his vision. So far he had interpreted the vision to mean nothing only that he must not hesitate to associate with the Gentiles, to whom he was sent. But now he sees it meant a great deal more — spiritual as well as social equality. This was no new thought (Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Job 34:19). But Peter and others had been thinking of this as true only as between Jews. He had not realised the truth he himself had declared (Acts 3:25).(2) "But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to Him." Mark here two things —(a) Peter's change of standards. His criterion for judging was outward no longer. He instantly dropped the notion that circumcision was necessary to salvation. All essentials were suddenly reduced to two — fearing God and working righteousness.(b) That those two essentials were not enough. They made Cornelius "acceptable," but not accepted. If anyone, by good works, could be saved, there was no need for Cornelius to hear about Christ the Saviour (ver. 2). But his good works did not satisfy God, nor did they satisfy himself. Salvation cannot be purchased with good works. The only adequate price for that is the precious blood of Christ.

2. The truth preached. Note —(1) That Peter did not tell anything new. His auditors were aware of the story of Christ. "Ye yourselves know." It was "the old, old story" that was effective, and that will be effective to the end of time.(2) That he verified what he did tell. He offered himself and the other apostles as witnesses of the death and the resurrection of Christ. He offered also the prophets as witnesses, and probably showed how the sufferings and atoning death of Christ were symbolised in sacrifices and foretold in prophecy.

III. BLESSED BY THE WORD. "The Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the Word." Notice —

1. The time. "While Peter yet spake." There was no laying on of apostolic hands. The conferring of the gift was as direct from God to those Gentiles as it had been to the Jews on the day of Pentecost.

2. The abundance. "Was poured out."

3. The manifestations. "Heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God." They were affected and endowed in the same way that their Jewish brethren had been. Thus this Pentecost of the Gentiles proved their right to an unquestioned place in the brotherhood of the saints — their baptism of the Spirit to baptism by water.

(M. C. Hazard.)

Here we have a Conservative Jew and a Liberal Gentile. The Jew wants to keep things as they are. He is quite content to preach Christ to his countrymen. The Gentile, on the other hand, has come to feel that all truth is not confined to the systems of his fathers. He has heard of Christ, and wants to know more of Him. So the narrative shows how, in the providence of God, these opposite men meet at the Cross, and there forget their differences as they learned that God is no respecter of persons. Let us consider —

I. A GOOD PREACHER.

1. Opinions greatly differ on what constitutes a good minister of Jesus Christ. Some say educate your men; others say you will educate all the fire out of them. Some say that the minister must take an active part in social movements; others, that he must do nothing of the kind. Some think he must give his strength to visitation; others, that he must be strong in the pulpit. Some leave a man's ministry because he is too noisy; others, because he is too quiet. Some object to men who do not rush to the door to shake hands with everybody; others object to such familiarity.

2. But there was one thing about Peter that all may imitate — he was a man of prayer, as every good preacher, teacher, Christian must be. Christ Himself was. Nothing great or good can the man of God expect without prayer. While Elijah prayed the fire fell; in answer to prayer Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh's dreams; while the little Church prayed at Pentecost the Holy Ghost came down; while the disciples prayed Peter was released from prison; and as he prayed on the housetop God gave him the vision. You cannot preach, but you can pray, and that will make the weak strong.

II. THE REMARKABLE CONGREGATION (ver. 33). Observe —

1. They were all in time. No notice was put up in the porch, saying, "You are requested not to enter during prayer." No one disturbed the singing or preaching. We are not told that anybody came in knocking down half a dozen hymn books and attracting attention to the last new bonnet.

2. No one went to sleep. Judged by modern practice that was remarkable. Our fathers must have been wakeful people, for they would listen to sermons two hours' length in straight-backed pews. Now the pews are so shaped and furnished as to invite sleep.

3. They were anxious to hear. That, too, was remarkable. How vastly different would be our worship if we came in that expectant condition! How helpful would be the preacher's word! Once a week worship, empty seats, and deserted churches would be things of the past.

III. THE VERY STRIKING SERMON.

1. It was very short; one could have wished it longer. The main objection to long sermons is that the quality is not in proportion.

2. It was full of Christ, although the Name appears only twice. We should not be always repeating the Name, but all our sermons and lessons should be as full of Christ as they can carry; and our daily life and conduct too. You need not forever carry a Bible in your hand. When your little one draws a cat she is obliged to say so underneath, or no one would recognise it; but by and by she will draw what will describe itself. So all should be able to recognise the Master in us. "Let your light so shine," etc. So let it be with your lessons. Christ is to be your diamond; set it as you like, but be sure it is seen.

3. One which declared God's impartiality (vers. 34, 35). "God cares for lowly toilers," etc.

IV. THE GLORIOUS EFFECTS (ver. 44). We learn that —

1. Peter did not labour in vain. He had immediate results; you may not; but wait God's good time.

2. The people did not hear in vain. How could they, listening as they did.

(G. Leach, D. D.)

The hasty and impetuous Peter had now become, under the influence of transforming grace, a considerate and self-governed man. But though he had lost his impetuosity and was fast losing his prejudices, he had not lost his vigour nor his readiness to give effect to conviction. After one night of calm reflection, diligent search, and earnest prayer, he was ready to set forth on his errand. At the door Cornelius meets him with an act of homage to the exalted character of his visitor, which was already familiar to a Roman in the case of his emperor, but which the apostle refused as an act of superstition. The minister of Christ, even if he be an apostle, is still but a man: in that identity of nature with his people lies as much his strength as his weakness. Compassed, like them, with every infirmity, he can both feel for the sins and the weaknesses of others, and also comfort them with the comfort wherewith he himself is comforted of God. Now, therefore, having come, he must know for what intent they have sent for him. Cornelius answers by recounting the story of his vision. Ten verses comprise the whole of St. Peter's answer; the whole of that, revelation which was to be the eternal life of Cornelius and his house. Note that —

I. THE GOSPEL WAS A RECORD OF FACTS; AND OUT OF THE FACTS GREW THE DOCTRINES. It was not a mere lesson of morality. It did not say, Do your best and God will accept you, It did not say, Care not about opinion, or doctrine, if only your life is right. Cornelius, whose life was blameless and exemplary, still needed Christ, and the Holy Spirit for his salvation. His diligent use of the light he had, brought him more light: such is God's rule: but it did not enable him to dispense with it. What showed God's acceptance was, God's teaching, God's illumination; not God's acquiescing in his condition, and leaving him as he was.

1. And when that teaching and illumination came, what was it? It was the account of a Person; of One who, though Himself man, had altogether changed and reversed man's condition; had broken the yoke of sin and Satan in instances numerous and decisive enough to show that He could do it in all; had lived a life such as never man lived, and spoken words such as never man spake; had then given His very life as a ransom for many; had died upon the Cross to take away sin, and after dying had also risen again to be the living High Priest, the Mediator and the Advocate with God, of all who believe; to be both the Judge of human kind, and also the Atonement and the Propitiation for human sin. It was our apostles' creed which formed the original gospel to the Gentiles.

2. And is it not so still? And has that gospel now lost its savour? Must we look out for some other because the first is worn out? So the world judges, and the Church has too much caught the infection. We fear that even Christian sermons are too much estimated now by their eloquence or their novelty, and too little by their proclamation of Christ Himself. God help us to come back to the simplicity and (with it) to the strength of St. Peter's first sermon to the Gentiles!

II. GOD IN A REMARKABLE MANNER BARE IT WITNESS.

1. While the narrative was proceeding, the gift of Pentecost was poured upon the hearers. The fire of the Lord fell, and attested the sacrifice. By an inversion of which we possess no other record in Scripture, the inward gift preceded the outward dedication. Elsewhere baptism went first, and the gift of the Spirit followed. God is a God of order, but He is not restricted by His own laws. Nothing less than the Pentecostal sign would have furnished an irresistible argument for this first Gentile baptism (Acts 11:17, 18).

2. Yet, lest any should draw from this an argument against the importance of forms, it was required that the outward sign should follow. How presumptuous then, in later times, to say, Because the form is not all, therefore the form is nothing! if I have the Spirit, I may dispense with the baptismal water! God has been pleased, in His two holy Sacraments, to remind us that in this life we are body as well as soul, and that the two elements of our being are wonderfully and fearfully commingled. The body acts upon the soul; the soul, in all its volitions, must act through the body.

3. Those who talk slightingly of forms are seldom those who know most of the Spirit. Not without form, though not by forms only, can the work of Christ be carried forward in the world. If the doctrine of the gospel had been launched in the world without the institution of a Church, it might have waxed feebler, generation by generation, until at last it actually died and vanished away. The Church is the pillar and ground of the truth. And we all know how much our faith owes to the possession of a house of prayer, regular seasons of worship, and a standing ministry to lead and to guide and quicken our devotion. Take away all these things, or any of these things, and where should we be? Destroy this temple, make its services rare or repulsive; let there be no one to exercise a regular ministration; let there be no visitation of the sick, no care for the poor, no catechising of the young; and who does not know how serious would be the loss to himself and to the cause of good? I know not whose faith would stand the test of an utter denial of all help either from public worship or from private ministrations; an absolute removal of that candlestick, the Church, which is not indeed, but which yet holds, the light of the Word, the lamp of the truth. Let us not lose, my brethren, by lethargy of soul, the advantages which God has given us.

(Dean Vaughan.)

In the Garden of Plants at Paris a certain rare tree grew for many years. It was a thriving and mature plant. Year by year it was covered with blossom, and year by year the white blossoms were shed on the ground leaving no fruit behind. After every promise it remained barren still. At last one season, although nothing extraordinary had been observed, after flower came fruit; it swelled apace, and in due time ripened. The tree for the first time brought to maturity self-propagating fruit. They sought and found the cause. Another tree of the same species, but bearing flowers the counterpart and complement of this, had then for the first time blossomed in a garden at some distance. The small white dust from the flowers of that other tree, necessary to make the flowers of this tree fruitful, had been borne on the feet of bees, or wafted by the wind into their bosom, and forthwith they bore fruit. This in the natural department is the work of the same all-wise God, who prepared Cornelius for receiving Peter's word, and brought Peter with the word to Cornelius.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come
I. CORNELIUS' SENDING was —

1. The outcome of a felt want. Heathenism, Judaism, devotion, moral excellence, noble birth, popularity were insufficient to fill the void in this good man's soul.

2. After prayer, or he might have sought the counsel of Jewish rabbi, Gentile philosopher or candid friend who would have directed him to ritual, wisdom or self-complacency, but never to one by whose words he might be saved.

3. By Divine direction.

(1)To an unlikely man.

(2)At an unlikely place. "God moves in a mysterious way." but always in the right way.

II. PETER'S COMING. Peter did well in coming, for thereby —

1. He conquered his Jewish prejudices. This was well for himself. Bigotry and exclusiveness are everywhere self-hindering and harmful.

2. He opened the door of the gospel to the Gentiles, thus anticipating and preparing for the worldwide mission of Paul.

3. He satisfied the aspirations of a genuine soul, and in doing so who knows what else? The influence of the converted centurion could not but have been felt in the army. Did Cornelius take the gospel to Rome?

4. He was the means of converting an entire congregation. What a phenomenon!

(J. W. Burn.)

Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God
It was —

I. EARNEST, which is obvious from —

1. The religious character that was given to it. It was composed of Cornelius and his family. The centurion's religion (ver. 2) was —

(1)Domestic, "all his house."

(2)Generous, "he gave alms to the people."

(3)Habitual, "he prayed to God alway." There were no frivolous spirits among Peter's listeners.

2. The invitation they gave the preacher, "Immediately therefore I sent to thee."

II. SOLEMN, "Before God." The expression implies belief in —

1. The existence of God — they were neither atheists, pantheists, nor polytheists.

2. The presence of God, not merely His influence.

3. The claim of God. He is our Maker, Proprietor, Judge, demanding the homage of our souls.

4. This belief was grounded in such a consciousness that would sweep from their minds all that was secular, sceptical and frivolous, and fill them with a profound solemnity.

III. INQUIRING. "To hear all things," etc. They were assembled not as a matter of custom, not to sit passive and be acted upon by the preacher, not for a mere performance, but to inquire. In this inquiry they were —

1. Profoundly religious. They were in quest of the Divine, "Commanded thee of God." They were not seekers after Peter's private speculations, but after the Divine Will.

2. Thoroughly free, "To hear all things." Their minds were untrammelled by prejudices, unbiassed by dogmas. They wanted to know the whole counsel of God. May not such a congregation be regarded as a model? Such a congregation would not have tolerated the pulpit crudities and priestly assumptions of modern times.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Is it true that it was composed of men who were neither Jews nor Christians, and that it met in the first century of the Christian era; yet there are many points in which it might be an example to nineteenth century Christian congregations. They were present —

I. EVERYONE. When was it ever said of a modern congregation, "We are all here present"? Naturally, all cannot be; but how many are absent, who might have been present, if animated by the spirit of Cornelius and his friends!

II. PUNCTUALLY. When Peter arrived, Cornelius met him with the announcement, "We are all here." Want of punctuality is an evil in our services. Some are always late. They lose part of the services; they disturb the minister and congregation. In many cases it is a mere habit, that could be overcome by a little attention.

III. WITH A DEFINITE PURPOSE. "To hear." How many motives influence attendance nowadays! Some are present to see, some to criticise, some from habit, some to while away the time, some from curiosity.

IV. WITH PREPARED HEARTS. "Now, therefore." We are here expectantly. If the minister ought to prepare to speak, not less ought the people to prepare to hear. Our Lord solemnly warns us: "Take heed how ye hear."

V. WITH REVERENT SPIRITS. "Present before God." This was an act of solemn worship. They did not come to sit at the feet of some popular preacher. "The worship of Dr. — will be resumed next Sabbath," said an usher to some persons who were leaving the church, upon learning that their favourite minister was not to preach that day.

VI. WITH ATTENTIVE EARS. How many absent-minded men there are in our congregations! They could not say, "We are all present." Wandering thoughts are servants of the devil. This congregation expected "to hear all things that were commanded of God." There were, evidently, no sleepers among them. A parishioner, upon his deathbed, confessed to his pastor that he had not heard a sermon for years — his thoughts had habitually reverted to his business as soon as the text was announced. Worshippers ought not to have their bodies in the house of God, and their hearts, with the fool's eyes, in the ends of the earth.

VII. WITH ONE MIND. No divisions in this congregation. They were all, with one accord, in one place.

VIII. WITH A RIGHT IDEA OF THE PREACHER. They wished to hear the things that God commanded him to speak. They cared more for the message than the messenger. If some of our congregations would think more of God's deliverance and less of man's delivery, it would tend to their spiritual edification.

IX. TO HEAR THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD. They wished to hear all things that God commanded. A modern congregation must have some fortitude before it asks for the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

X. WITH A SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE. The word which we translate "to hear" oftentimes, as in this case, means "to hear and obey." It is well to be ready to hear all of God's commands; better to be ready to obey them.Results:

1. The gospel was faithfully preached (ver. 34). Faithful hearers make faithful preachers.

2. The Holy Ghost was giver (ver. 44). "Peter yet spake these words presence and the Word: —

I. THE GREAT FACT AND TRUTH REALISED by Cornelius: "Now, therefore, are we all here present before God."

II. THE DEVOUT AND SINCERE PURPOSE OF HEART EXPRESSED: "To hear all things," etc.

1. "Now therefore," etc. Evidently spoken by a man who had before recognised and felt God's presence in his life and ways. We are of a truth alway in God's presence if we knew it: but there are times when the reality breaks forth with special power for special purposes. But there are other times and ways beside those in which we are met together for public worship, when we may be made feel that we are "present before God." All time and place, thought and feeling, are sacred when this great and holy truth is impressed upon us, "the Lord God is there."(1) Have we never felt we were present before God, in our own soul and conscience? Have we never felt within, that there was another Presence besides our own, that penetrated and searched our inmost thoughts?(2) We may feel we are present before God in His works.(3) In the course of the Divine providence, its ways and dealings. Behind and above all these busy outward actors, scenes of engagement, there is the Divine Seer and Actor, and His hand is outstretched upon every man, woman and child. Were our eyes opened to see the greatest truth and reality of this scene of our existence and probation, we should feel no words were so true as these; "Now, then, are we all here present before God."(4) Again in the dispensation of truth and privilege vouchsafed to us, God is and comes very near to us. What in fact is Divine truth but the immediate touch, teaching, and reality of God?(5) Our parents, specially if pious parents, are they not witnesses to us of God's presence, authority and grace, seeing they are given and appointed to represent Him and lead us to Him?

II. We must have regard to the SINCERE DEVOUT PURPOSE OF HEART EXPRESSED: "To hear all things that are commanded thee of God." Here are three things to be noted: the preacher; his message and its source; the receptive state of mind and heart among the hearers.

1. The preacher was Peter the apostle, who, when Cornelius would have worshipped him, on entering his house, said, "Stand up, I myself also am a man" (ver. 26). It has been well and wisely observed, not the angel but the man must preach the gospel to Cornelius. Even salvation itself came to us through the man Christ Jesus, God laying hold of us through the medium of our own nature. Peter had all the experiences of an ignorant, weak, failing, sinful man, and of a man forgiven, converted, transformed, consecrate, Divinely taught and led. Such experiences, with their vital, soul thrilling power, could never proceed from the tongues of angels.

2. Next Peter's message and its source: "All things that are commanded thee of God." Cornelius had no idea of any self-made or man-made gospel. We now come —

3. To the state of mind and heart in the hearers: "To hear all things that are," etc., that are commanded us also, through thee as the Divine organ and representative. The mind of Cornelius was not passive, but as the whole chapter shows, was in intense action and engagement; and he knew and felt by the present living testimony of God's Spirit and truth in his own spirit, that the things which Peter spake came from God and were commanded of God. It is God Himself who calls us to the obedience of His gospel. It is not man's gospel, but His, commanding us in His name, on His authority. Let man stand aside, that God may be heard and obeyed.

(Watson Smith.)

I. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE PRESENT AT THE APPOINTED PLACE BETIMES. "Now therefore we are all here."

II. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL NEVER FAIL TO HAVE UNANIMITY OF REPRESENTATION AS FAR AS THAT IS POSSIBLE. "We are all here." If it could be said truly, all who could be are here, we would have great reason to rejoice.

III. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE REVERENT. "We are all here before God."

IV. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE ATTENTIVE. "We are all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." They do not come to see or be seen, but to hear; not to be gratified or entertained, but to be spiritually profited.

V. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL RE SYMPATHETIC. There were some communities in which the Lord Jesus Christ could not perform mighty works. There are congregations so cold and unresponsive that the preacher's thoughts are chilled in transmission. A man can't be packed in ice without freezing. The Church has a great deal to do with making the minister. Many a sermon has caught its glow and power from the sympathies of those to whom it was delivered. A genial summer is not more effective in calling forth buds and blossoms, than warm hearts are in drawing out all that is best and noblest in a preacher's soul.

VI. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE RECEPTIVE. Like nature in the spring time, with every tree and flower and grass blade open to receive the gracious ministries of heaven. VII. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE UNPREJUDICED. "We are all here before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." Prejudice is the hardest thing to cope with, for it is not amenable to conviction even when the evidence is overwhelming. "Argument cannot do the work of instruction any more than blows can take the place of sunlight." Not what suited their tastes and harmonised with their preconceived notions, but all that was commanded of God. It would be well if congregations now came together with this absolute simplicity and guilelessness of disposition. VIII. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE OBEDIENTLY DISPOSED. "All that is commanded thee of God." Nothing can be of real value in God's sight which does not shape itself into obedience.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. Let us consider THE DUTY OF A MINISTER OF RELIGION, which, though not explicitly laid down, is nevertheless implied in the words of my text: he is to teach "all things that are commanded him of God"; not teaching for doctrines the commandments of men; not setting forth human tradition as of equal importance with the oracles of the living God, but, in humility and godly sincerity, declaring the truth as it is in Jesus. Let us now consider more particularly what the minister is commanded to teach.

1. He is commanded to remind his hearers that they are all "by nature born in sin, and the children of wrath"; that they are very far gone from original righteousness, and are of their own nature inclined to evil.

2. Having shown his hearers their state by nature, and their utter helplessness and inability to deliver themselves from this spiritual bondage as slaves of sin and Satan, he is authorised to point out to them a way of deliverance.

3. We are commanded to set before our hearers the precepts, as well as the doctrines, of our holy religion; to tell them plainly that profession without practice, that faith without works, will be of no avail to them (Matthew 8:20). I have dwelt on the duty of a Christian minister: permit me now to invite your attention —

II. TO THAT OF OUR HEARERS, WHICH IS IMPLIED IN MY TEXT: "We are all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." "Take heed how ye hear."

1. Receive the Word with an humble and a teachable mind. This is the disposition that was so exemplified in Mary, when she sat at the feet of Jesus, and listened to the sweet expressions that dropped from His lips. This is the disposition recommended by St. James in the following words: "Receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your souls." It is to be feared that many of our hearers enter into the sanctuary strangers to this temper; more eager to judge than to hear; ever on the alert for an opportunity to condemn; putting every phrase to the rack, if it accords not with their notion of propriety.

2. Hear with faith. "The Word preached," says St. Paul, "did not profit the Jews, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it": it had no influence on their conduct, because they did not believe what they heard.

3. If ye would hear with profit, be constant in prayer, not only in the church, but in the closet. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights." Remember "the preparation of the heart in man is from the Lord." Paul may plant, Apollos water; but it is God only that giveth the increase.

4. Be ye practical hearers. St. Paul represents some as "ever hearing, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." "Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."

(J. Hughes, M. A.)

Dogs often fight because the supply of bones is scanty and congregations frequently quarrel because they do not get sufficient spiritual meat to keep them happy and peaceful. The ostensible ground of dissatisfaction may be something else, but nine times out of ten deficiency in their rations is at the bottom of the mutinies which occur in our Churches.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Mr. Christopher Richardson, minister of Kirk Heaton, in Yorkshire, was much followed. A neighbouring minister, Whose parishioners used to go to hear him, complaining once to him that he drew away his flock, Mr. Richardson answered, "Feed them better, and they will not stray."

Cyclopoedia of Illustrative Anecdotes.
An earnest minister once had the misfortune to succeed a tardy man who had had the congregation in charge for some years. He despaired of reforming them in great matters if he could not reform them in small. He found them in the habit of meeting at twelve o'clock, though the hour appointed and agreed upon was eleven. The preacher knew his duty, and began at the minute. The first day after his settlement, his sermon was well-nigh closed before most of his congregation arrived. Some actually arrived just at the benediction. They were confounded. He made no apology. He only asked the seniors if they would prefer any other time than eleven o'clock, and he would be sure and attend. A few weeks passed and the church was regularly full, and waiting for the minute. The preacher never failed in twenty years, except in a few cases of indisposition, to commence at the hour appointed. His congregation soon became as punctual and circumspect in other matters as in their attendance at church.

(Cyclopoedia of Illustrative Anecdotes.)

This congregation may be held up as a model in three things.

I. PUNCTUALITY OF ATTENDANCE. "Now therefore are we all here."

1. All were present. No absentees.

2. All were present in proper time. They were waiting for Peter, and not Peter for them. No coming in during service, and disturbing both preacher and hearers.

II. DEVOUTNESS OF SPIRIT. "Before God." Realised God's presence. This would inspire —

1. Humility (Exodus 3:2-6; 1 Samuel 16:7; Genesis 18:27; Isaiah 6:5; Job 42:5, 6).

2. Sincerity. Here, if anywhere, there should be truth (Isaiah 57:15; Psalm 51:6). Hypocrisy may walk the earth invisible to men, but not to God.

3. High expectation (Matthew 18:20). Here the Father is present (Romans 8:32). Here the Son is present (John 6:48-53; Matthew 28:26). Here the Holy Ghost is present (John 6:63; John 16:15). We should attend upon ordinances with diligence, preparation, and prayer. Come to God's house fresh from the company of the gay and the thoughtless, and with no real seriousness of spirit, and is it any wonder if you are not benefited.

III. PRACTICALNESS OF PURPOSE. "The more part knew not wherefore they had come together" (Acts 19:32). Not so here. Had a clear, settled, well-understood purpose.

1. To hear. Sense of God's personal interest and love (Romans 10:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:21; John 13:17).

2. To hear what was commanded of God. Looked above the messenger to Him that had sent him. Recognised the Divine authority of the truth. Without this there can be no real good (Exodus 3:13; Deuteronomy 5:27; Hebrews 4:2).

3. To hear all that was commanded of God. Law and gospel. The whole counsel of God. There should be fearless honesty both in speaking and hearing.

(William Forsyth, A. M.)

I. IT WAS NOTED FOR PUNCTUALITY.

1. A sense of the importance of the service. Men generally careful to secure a front seat at theatre, entertainment, banquet. Religion paramount.

2. It secures the whole of the service.

3. It is helpful to the preacher.

4. It makes the service enjoyable.

II. IT WAS NOTED FOR REVERENCE.

1. Conscious of the Divine superintendence.

2. Regard for the Divine dignity.

3. Awe of the Divine purity.

4. Engagement in Divine service.

III. IT WAS NOTED FOR ATTENTION.

1. Unprejudiced attention.

2. Docile attention.

3. Practical attention.

4. Successful attention. They believed and obeyed.

(B. D. Johns.)

I. THE AUDIENCE.

1. Before the preacher began this "innovation" takes place — the audience spoke up to the preacher, the pew to the pulpit. It was a splendid audience, though not very large. How earnestly they came together! What a solidarity there was! No wandering thought or eye, but all was focused; calm and purposeful both in body and soul; so that ere the preacher began, one man could speak for all, "Now therefore are we all here present before God." May this audience bring its contribution to the preacher, while it expects the preacher to bring his! The contribution he has a right to expect is, that the people should come united, full of expectation, led into the temple like Simeon by the Spirit of God, at the very moment when Jesus came. No chance, no haphazard in this gathering. We have not come here to spend an idle hour. When asked, "Where have you been this morning?" — it is wrong to answer "Oh, I dropped in to Regent Square." You did not drop in nor drop out. The Lord's providences for the whole of the week have been hedging up your way, and securing that you should be here. Fall in with God's arrangement.

2. I like to dwell on the word all. The people were invited, and they came. This morning the very hour invites us. I know there are many excuses. You can tell me about young children, sickness, waiting on the sick, fogs, east winds, long distances, wet days, etc. In many families, at ten o'clock on the Sabbath morning, attendance at church is still an open question. It is no open question on the Monday morning, "John, will you go to work today?" "Oh," said a farmer in Scotland, when a minister rebuked him for not attending church, and said, "You know, John, you are never absent from the market." "Oh," was the reply, "we maun gang to the market." Unconsciously it came out. To come to the house of God was not so urgent. But when we look at this audience we see the benefit of setting ourselves the task of coming with a purpose to God's house. It will need planning and self-denial. Some of you are here today only because you have trampled upon a hundred obstacles. And some are not here because they have given way to things which will not be allowed to stand in the way of tomorrow's engagements.

3. And then when we all come —(1) The Lord marks how we have pressed forward to meet Him. I think there is no sweeter sight to His holy eyes than to see the people wending their way to His house. "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."(2) And when you come in this expectant way, how it helps the reception of the sermon! How we have all suffered from coming to the house of God in a disorderly, hurried way, both as regards body and soul! Then you look up to the preacher and expect him to work miracles on your higgledy-piggledy soul.

4. "We are all here present before God."(1) Try to realise God's presence; get past outward and temporal things, and call upon your soul to pass into the secret place of the tabernacle of the Most High. Compel your soul to grasp the thought — "Surely God is in this place"; and instead of saying, "I knew it not," let us say, "We know it, and wait for a clearer revelation of His presence." This is holy ground. Where you are sitting God has converted men ere now. Canst thou come where God has done His mightiest work, carelessly, heedlessly, and merely as a matter of custom and routine? Thou art occupying the room of men and women who today are before the eternal throne. This word is true: "We are all present before God" — and therefore let there be nothing unworthy of such a Presence and such a place.(2) And how the thought of God's presence will help to focus our attention; to take our eyes off each other, and off the preacher! How it will help to prepare us to receive God's Word! How it will reduce to a minimum the over-critical spirit! Said a preacher to myself, "I notice when I give out my text, my people settle down and settle back; but, I am afraid, not so much to hear what I have to say as to watch how I get through."

5. "To hear all things that are commanded thee of God." They came to hear God's Word. You know that today there is a tendency to say, "Hearing has been too much magnified. What I come to God's house for is to worship. The preacher gets far too much space." There may be something in that, but it is exaggerated. What was central here, and what must always be central in a gathering of saints or sinners is the preaching of God's Word, and the attending thereto by the hearer. That is worship at its highest. All the powers of the soul get their highest use and their fullest freedom when God's Word is faithfully and lovingly proclaimed. Faith cometh by hearing.

II. THE PREACHER.

1. I have been speaking straightly to you, but now your turn comes. The pew has a right to say to the preacher, "Now, give us what God has told you. There are many things that might interestingly occupy an hour; give us, however, the thing that brought us here." And this is needful, for we get so immersed in favourite lines of reading which unconsciously colour our utterances, so that we need from the audience — "Now, preacher, God's Word and truth; all things from Him today, and nothing else. Never mind about reconciling science and revelation; we can get that in our magazines and read it at home. Give us today what really concerns us, 'All things commanded thee of God.'" Peter needed that. He was a narrow, bigoted Jew, and he would never, of himself, have preached to Cornelius and his company the sermon they needed. At the best we are but men, and of narrowness and prejudice we have our share. Therefore there is tremendous need that the preacher should be in God's hand, and come from God's presence with his soul and voice attuned to a large, full, free, and glorious utterance of the gospel of the grace of God. Leave as to ourselves, and there may be some little glimmering light in our preaching, but only a little: there may be light from every quarter, to use the phrase of the day, save the Sun! The Lord blow out all our penny candles. His light has come. We need to come forth from God, He having poured into us something of the fulness of His mind and heart.

2. "Then Peter opened his mouth." Do not run over that phrase and say, "Of course." A number of us cannot open our mouths when we preach — it is the most piteous mumbling. Sabbath school teacher, preacher, "Open your mouth, and teach the people, as your Lord did and His chief apostle." Let it be seen in the very manner of our speech that our mouth is open, for our heart is enlarged; that it comes, not feebly and faint and constricted, but glad and full and free, for the Lord is with us. Do not say, "I have no eloquence; I have a stammering tongue." Who made man's mouth? "Have not I the Lord? Open thy mouth; behold I put My words into thy mouth." What does Isaiah say? "Lift up," he says — and how much it is needed in this namby-pamby, over-refined, hypercritical age — "Lift up thy voice with strength, lift it up; be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God." "Peter opened his mouth." He lifted up his head, and let go! We put down ours, and hold on!

III. THE SERMON. It was the old gospel. It was new and fresh then. That is one thing that one does sometimes envy the first preachers for; for they had seen Him and His glory. Peter preached Christ, not theology, not a creed; but Jesus, sent for a particular purpose by God; how that, carrying out that purpose, He had died on the Cross and risen again, and that through Him is preached forgiveness of sins. That is where the gospel began then, and where it begins today — forgiveness of sins to a devout man, and one that feared God, and made prayers, and gave alms. People would have said today, "with an audience like that, what you want to do is not to take them to the Cross. Show them Christ, of course; but Christ as the great ideal and embodiment of all that is good, and a devout, God-fearing man like Cornelius will be enamoured with Him and make Him his Leader and Pattern." "No," says Peter; "We preach the Christ who died for sin to everybody." A French officer, whose ship had been taken by Nelson, was brought on board Nelson's vessel, and he walked up to the great admiral and gave him his hand. "No," said Nelson; "your sword first, if you please." That is the gospel.

IV. THE RESULT. There is a new name brought in here. I have talked of Cornelius, of Peter, of Jesus, of God the Father, but here is another name. While Peter yet spake these words about Jesus, "The Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the Word." Cornelius possibly had heard of Jesus as a name of reproach and blasphemy. Now, Jesus leapt up into his heart as his Friend and Saviour, and God. That is the miracle of the Gospel. That is what the Holy Ghost does. If you know Jesus Christ, flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto you. Peter was there, as the preacher is here; and the sermon; but the Holy Ghost gives the increase and blesses the Word, and without Him fruit cannot be.

(J. McNeill.)

We have here —

1. A call to Peter related — "I sent."

2. Peter's compliance with the call commended, "Thou hast well done that thou art come."

3. An address made to Peter when he was come. In which take notice —(1) Of a congregation, though small? yet well convened (ver. 24).(2) An acknowledgment of God's presence in a special manner in religious assemblies, "We are all here present before God."(3) The great end of their meeting was their soul's edification, to hear, i.e., to hear and obey. And here is what the minister is to preach and the people to receive: "what is commanded of God." The extent of both is "all things."Observe —

1. When God discovers His mind in any particular to a person or people, it is their duty presently to comply with it without delay. The contrary was the fault of Balaam, and of the Jews in Egypt (Jeremiah 44).

2. It is a blessed thing for a people to call that minister to whom God Himself directs and inclines them. Cornelius did not so much as know Peter by name (ver. 5), but he goes to Gods and God directs him.

3. It is a commendable thing in a minister of Christ to comply with the call of God and His people, though it should be offensive to some, and not very agreeable to his own inclinations. The doctrine arising from the text is — "It is the duty of a people to attend on ordinances." In discoursing from this I shall —

I. GIVE REASONS WHY PEOPLE SHOULD ATTEND ON AND BE PRESENT AT ORDINANCES, WHERE GOD HAS SET THEM UP AMONG THEM. Because —

1. God has commanded it (Hebrews 10:15). The Lord calls His people to be present there, wherever it is. Thus there was the tabernacle in the wilderness, and afterwards the temple, and the synagogues. It was the practice of Christ Himself to attend these places (Luke 4:16).

2. The public assemblies are for the honour of Christ in the world. They are where His honour dwells, where His people meet to profess their subjection to His laws, to receive His orders, to seek His help, to pay Him the tribute of praise.

3. These assemblies are the ordinary place where Christ makes His conquest of souls (Romans 10:14). The gospel is Christ's net wherein souls are caught. And it is always good to be in Christ's way.

4. They are Christ's trysting place with His people, the galleries wherein our Lord walks (Exodus 20:24). What a disadvantage had Thomas by his absence from one meeting where Christ met with the rest of the disciples!

5. The delights of Christ and His people meet there; for ordinances are the heaven on earth. Christ delights to be there with His people (Psalm 86:2.; Luke 22:15). And they delight to be there with Him, and for Him (Psalm 84:1, 2; Psalm 27:4; Psalm 122:1).

6. The necessities of all that mind for heaven require it. Had the ordinances not been necessary, God would never have appointed them. Have not Christ's soldiers need of them to clear their rusty armour? do not dead souls need them to quicken them? sleepy souls, to awaken them?

II. SHOW IN WHAT RESPECTS PEOPLE ARE BEFORE THE LORD AT PUBLIC ORDINANCES. The Lord is everywhere present (Psalm 139:7). But we are before Him in a special manner in the public assemblies. He holds the stars in His right hand, and walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks. Christ is in the assemblies of His people — 1, Representatively. He has His agents there, His ministers, who are the Lord's proxies to court a wife for their Master's Son (2 Corinthians 11:2); His ambassadors to negotiate a peace betwixt God and sinners (2 Corinthians 5:20; Matthew 10:40),

2. Efficaciously. The Word of the Lord is a powerful word. Christ is there giving life to some, strength to others, and death's wounds to others (Micah 2:7; Psalm 45:5; Hosea 6:5).

3. As our witness. Men's eyes and the devil's eyes are upon us; but this country in regard to the public service of religion. Our forefathers put their clocks on the outside of their places of worship, that they might not be too late in their attendance: we have transferred them to the inside of the house of God, lest we should stay too long in the service — a sad and an ominous change.

(R. Watson.)

"Now, deacon, I've just one word to say. I can't bear our preaching! I get no good. There's so much in it I don't want that I grow lean on it. I lose my time and pains." "Mr. Bunnell, come in here. There's my cow Thankful — she can teach you theology!" "A cow teach theology! What do you mean?" "Now, see, I have just thrown her a forkful of hay. Just watch her. There now! She has found a stick — you know sticks will get into the hay — and see how she tosses it to one side and goes on to eat what is good. There, again! She has found a burdock, and she throws it on one side and goes on eating. And there! She does not relish that bunch of daisies, and leaves them and goes on eating. Before morning she will have cleared the manger of all, save a few sticks and weeds, and she will give milk. There's milk in that hay, and she knows how to get it out, albeit there may be now and then a stick or weed which she leaves. But if she refused to eat, and spent the time in scolding about the fodder, she, too, would 'grow lean,' and the milk would dry up. Just so with our preaching. Let the old cow teach you. Get all the good you can out of it and leave the rest. You will find a good deal of nourishment in it."

A gentleman once said to Rowland Hill, "It is sixty-five years since I first heard you preach; and the sermon was well worth remembering. You remarked, that some people are very squeamish about the manner of a clergyman in preaching; but you then added, "Supposing one is hearing a will read, expecting to receive a legacy, would you employ the time in criticising the lawyer's manner while reading it? No: you would give all your interest to ascertain if anything were left to yourself, and how much. Let that, then, be the way in which you listen to the gospel."

There are four different kinds of hearers of the Word — those like a sponge, that suck up good and bad together, and let both run out immediately; those like a sand glass, that let what enters in at one ear pass out at the other, hearing without thinking; those like a strainer, letting go the good, and retaining the bad; and those like a sieve, letting go the chaff, and retaining the good grain.

(T. Boston, D. D.)

One is like an Athenian, and he hearkeneth after news; if the preacher say anything of our armies beyond the sea, or council at home, or matters of court, that is his lure. Another is like the Pharisee, and he watcheth if anything be said that may be wrested. Another smacks of eloquence, and he gapes for a phrase. Another is malcontent, and he never pricketh up his ears till the preacher come to gird against some whom he spiteth; and when the sermon is done he remembereth nothing which was said to him, but that which was spoken against another. Another cometh to gaze about the church; he hath an evil eye, which is still looking upon that from which Job did avert his eye. Another cometh to muse; so soon as he is set, he falleth into a brown study; sometimes his mind runs on his market, sometimes of his journey, sometimes of his suit, sometimes of his dinner, sometimes of his sport after dinner; and the sermon is done before the man thinks where he is. Another cometh to hear; but so soon as the preacher hath said his prayer, he falls fast asleep, as though he had been brought in for a corpse, and the preacher should preach at his funeral.

(H. Smith.)

A man comes to New York on an errand of fraud. He is seeking to take an estate away from the rightful heirs, because he has some little legal advantage. He has resisted his conscience, and suppressed all his reluctances, and his purpose is fixed. On arriving here he goes to the theatre — that school of morals! — and witnesses a play, the point of which turns on the defrauding of heirs by an old rich uncle — just the same thing as he is attempting. The various parts are gone through with, and everybody cries, and he cries, and he goes away feeling, "How mean it is for a man to supplant poor orphans in that way!" He cries over and denounces the very act which he is himself performing. You know that such things take place. There are hundreds of men that love to hear about temperance, and go and get drunk. There are many men that love to hear about truth, and lie like witches afterwards. There is nothing more common than instances which go to show that we like as a sentiment things that we do not like as an ethical rule. Oftentimes, when a thing comes to us as a rule of conduct, and lays its law on us, and demands our obedience, we resist it; but when, instead of that, it comes to us as on emotion, we like to lie upon its bosom, as a duck lies on a swell of water. Wicked men like to undulate on these moral elements. They like to go to sea on the gospel. They swing to and fro upon it with infinite pleasure.

(H. W. Beecher.)

When a man says he received a blessing under a sermon, I beg to inquire what effect it has produced. The Roman soldiers proved the effect produced by Antony's sermon when they flew to avenge the death of Caesar.

(J. Newton.)

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