Acts 4:18
Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Truth from the TribunalW. Clarkson Acts 4:1-21
Apostolic TrialsJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
BigotryJ. Alexander, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
Christ the Power of GodChristian AgeActs 4:1-22
Christ's Servants Before the TribunalE. Johnson Acts 4:1-22
Ecclesiasticism has no Exclusive RightsGeneral Gordon.Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John Before the CouncilD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John Before the CouncilGeo. M. Boynton.Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John ExaminedJ. Dick, A. M.Acts 4:1-22
Righteous BoldnessHerrick Johnson, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
Teaching and PersecutionJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
The Captain of the TempleProf. I. H. Hall.Acts 4:1-22
The First Persecution of the ApostlesJ. Bennett.Acts 4:1-22
The First Persecution of the ChurchJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
The Four Chief Props of ApologeticsO. Smith, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
The Miracle At the Beautiful Gate as an EpochD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
Typical Religious PersecutionW. Hudson.Acts 4:1-22
The First Trial of Christian Preachers in a Court of JudgmentP.C. Barker Acts 4:4-22
The Impotence of UnbeliefR.A. Redford Acts 4:13-22
A Reluctant ReleaseW. Hudson.Acts 4:18-31
Apostolic HeroismW. Hudson.Acts 4:18-31
BoldnessS. S. TimesActs 4:18-31
Christian CourageMonday Club SermonsActs 4:18-31
Christian CourageChristian AgeActs 4:18-31
Christian CourageW. E. Knox, D. D.Acts 4:18-31
Christian TestimonyActs 4:18-31
Constrained to Speak About JesusActs 4:18-31
Duty to God FirstR. Tuck, B. A.Acts 4:18-31
Duty to God the Supreme LawM. Luther.Acts 4:18-31
God Before ManActs 4:18-31
God to be Obeyed At All CostsM. Luther.Acts 4:18-31
Honest Christian SpeechS. Martin.Acts 4:18-31
Making Christ Known to OthersJ. S. Balmer.Acts 4:18-31
Moral HeroismH. O. Mackey.Acts 4:18-31
Not Man's, But God's Voice to be HeardR. Eden, M. A.Acts 4:18-31
Not to Cease Because DespisedH. W. Beecher.Acts 4:18-31
Obedience to GodActs 4:18-31
Obeying God Rather than MenSouthey's Life of Wesley.Acts 4:18-31
ProtestantismJ. A. Froude.Acts 4:18-31
Speaking God's WordD. L. Moody.Acts 4:18-31
Testimony not to be StifledW. Arnot, D. D.Acts 4:18-31
The Apostles' Confidence in GodD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 4:18-31
The Apostles' Confidence in GodJohn D. Pickles.Acts 4:18-31
The Connection Between Believing the Gospel and Making it KnownW. Lucy.Acts 4:18-31
The Gospel Cannot be ConcealedC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 4:18-31
The One Question in ConductBp. Huntington.Acts 4:18-31

We gather from these words -

I. THAT LEARNING IS NOT NECESSARY TO GOODNESS. The persecutors of Peter and John "perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men;" not uneducated men, in the worst sense of that term, but lacking in the higher culture of their time. But though thus comparatively unlearned, they were men of strong faith, of true piety, of godly zeal, admirable in the sight of men, acceptable servants of Jesus Christ. Human learning is a desirable, but it is far from being, a necessary, thing to excellence of character or nobility of life.

II. THAT COURAGE IN THE CONDUCT OF THE GOOD WILL ARREST THE ATTENTION OF THOSE WHO ARE IN THE WRONG. "When they saw the boldness of Peter and John... they marveled." Whatever virtues are unappreciated by the ungodly, courage always enlists attention and provokes admiration. Be brave, and you will be heard; stand to your colors with undaunted spirit, and men will, however reluctantly, yield you their respect.

III. THAT ASSOCIATION WITH JESUS CHRIST WILL ACCOUNT FOR ANY EXCELLENCY OF CHARACTER. When the priests and elders wanted to account to themselves for the boldness of these two men they remembered their connection with Christ, and were no longer at fault. That will account for anything that is good. Much intimacy with him who "regarded not the person of man" will always make men brave; frequent communion with that Holy One of God will always make men pure of heart; close friendship with him who came to lay down his life for the sheep will always make men unselfish, etc.

IV. THAT THE REST THINGS ABOUT HUMAN CHARACTER ARE THOSE WHICH ARE SUGGESTIVE OF JESUS CHRIST. There is nothing which is such a tribute to human worth as that men are thereby reminded of Christ. What impression are we most anxious to convey about ourselves? The answer to that question will be a sure criterion of our spiritual standing. If we are nearing the goal which is set before us, if we are attaining to any real height of Christian excellency, we shall he truly and earnestly solicitous that our constant spirit and daily behavior will be suggestive of the temper and the principles of Jesus Christ our Lord. - C.

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor to teach in the name of Jesus.
Monday Club Sermons.
I. ITS TEST. The apostles did not wish to separate themselves from the Jewish Church, for it was while .entering the temple that Peter and John restored the lame man. See these men, then, confronted by a positive command from the nation's highest tribunal to be silent, a tribunal, too, that had condemned their Master. National love, respect for law, pride of race, reverence for institutions hoary with age, strength of social ties, personal friendships, a shrinking from becoming disturbers of the peace, fear for personal safety — all these conspired to intensify the command "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus." What now enables them to oppose the Sanhedrin's command? Their personal love for Jesus. To be silent is impossible. Bound to their nation by enduring ties, a stronger cord binds them to Jesus. "We cannot but speak." And speak they did, with added boldness. There are currents in the sea which, despite opposing winds and tides, move on their way unhindered, impelled by a mighty force hidden far in the depths. Such a force in the hearts of these disciples was love for Christ.

II. ITS MANIFESTATIONS. Men are sometimes called courageous when they are only reckless. The man of real courage will be bold enough, and calm enough, to act wisely. In the conduct of the apostles every mark of true courage is manifest.

1. They show that their course is not prompted by impulse or passion. They are moved by deep convictions. They plant themselves on the highest conceivable ground, the sense of right. They have no ambitious ends to seek, no revenge to gratify, no popular applause to gain. "Thrice armed is he who bath his quarrel just." When the Empress Eudoxia sent threatening messages to in Constantinople to desist from his pungent reproofs, the golden-tongued preacher replied: "Tell the Empress that Chrysostom fears nothing but sin." Note, as an evidence of wisdom, how sagaciously the apostles appeal to this self-same principle of right in the minds of their accusers. "Judge ye." This sense that it is right to hearken more unto God than unto men, whether adopted in practical life or not, must and does commend itself to every man's conscience. Those who adhere to it gain the confidence of all. "What," was asked by a merchant of a poor boy applying for a situation, "should you say if I were to tell you to work on Sunday?" "I shouldn't come; for God has said, 'Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,' and I shall do as God bus told me." "Then," said the employer, "you are the boy I am looking for."

2. The apostles' courage is seen in the company they keep. "Being let go, they went to their own company," etc. How changed the aspect! In the Sanhedrin the air was dense with suspicion and malice — here is love, purity, and the peace of heaven. Courage is of the right kind when it seeks to sustain itself by breathing an atmosphere like this.

III. ITS SOURCE (ver. 31). The breath of God's Spirit upon their spirits. Christ did not send the apostles into trial without providing them with a power adequate to every want. Christians should learn to look to the Holy Spirit to work in them and for them whatever their needs require. If courage is the virtue needed here, then courage will be the product of the Spirit. Before the Sanhedrin the Spirit makes Peter bold; but afterwards the same Spirit made him deeply humble. John, originally a "son of thunder," was by the Spirit's agency so transformed as to become a renowned example of Christian gentleness.

(Monday Club Sermons.)

In the breast of every earnest man this conflict resolves itself into a question of duty of expediency. The easy thing is to suit one's convenience; the hard thing is to do right. In the case of Peter and John there was a disagreement between the higher and the lower law. The powers that be are ordained of God; wherefore it is right to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, and be ready unto every good work (Titus 3:1). But if there comes a moment when the soul is hemmed in between the mandate of an earthly ruler and the word of Jehovah, the way is plain: God must ever hold the first place in the soul of a true man. We are resolved to do our duty though the heavens fall! In reaching this determination they were moved by two arguments —

1. It was right. All considerations of mere prudence must stand aside for principle. Conscience has always the right of way. The meanest man on earth knows that God's service is above time-service. It was perfectly safe for the two disciples to submit that proposition to their inquisitors, as they did when they said, "Judge ye."

2. It was in line with the ruling motive of their lives. They had some time ago made up their minds deliberately to follow Christ. In that resolve there was no reservation; they had surrendered all. Now the matter is to be brought to a test; will they be loyal to their Master or not? There is no ground for hesitation. So Peter and John stood by their principles. It must have seemed to them as if they were facing death, but no matter. Now mark the immediate result.These disciples expected imprisonment, the lash, perhaps death, for their temerity; but God had His own plans.

1. Their judges "marvelled" at their courage and "let them go"! The angel of the Lord came and shut those lions' mouths so that they could not hurt them.

2. The people "glorified God for that which was done." That term, "the people," represents an inconstant and untrustworthy factor; but in this instance the good work done upon the impotent man was so manifest, and the subsequent demeanour of Peter and John in court so heroic, that they were perforce convinced and moved to glorify God.

3. The two disciples were themselves emboldened for further service. They had tried God and found Him faithful, and they were ready to try Him again. The lad David was encouraged to go out against Goliath by the fact that God had once before delivered him from a lion and bear that had taken a lamb out of his flock. A man's courage is like his biceps muscle; it grows by use.

4. The whole Church was strengthened and enheartened by this event. Courage is catching. Heroes make heroes.

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

The Rev. Mr. Martini, from Spain, says: "I have had the privilege of suffering a little — a very little — for the dear Lord, but in a sense it was my own fault, for I broke the law of my country. In Spain it was against the law for a Protestant to preach to a congregation of more than twenty persons, and that law I broke by addressing an audience of more than two hundred and fifty persons in the open air. I was holding a meeting of twelve persons in a small room, when certain persons entered and told me that there was a large number of people who wished me to preach to them in the open air. I thought, 'This is a call from God! Shall I obey God or man?' I obeyed God, and broke the law of man; the consequence was that I was sent to prison for forty-six days. I was well treated by every one. The mayor and all the notables came to see me, and I gave them tracts and Gospels, besides preaching inside the prison to more than fifty persons at a time, although the law forbade me to preach to more than twenty persons at a time outside the prison."

A heathen king had a Christian bishop brought before him, and ordered him to abjure his faith and sacrifice to the heathen idols. "My lord and king," said the bishop, "that I will not do." At this the king was furious, and said, "Do you know that your life is in my hands, and that if I liked I could kill you? I have only to sign to my servants, and you are a dead man." "I know that," answered the bishop; "but before you kill me let me tell you a story. You can decide my fate when I have finished. Suppose one of your most faithful servants falls into the hands of your enemies, and they seek to excite him to rebel against you — to make him a traitor. He, however, remains faithful, and your enemies strip him, and drive him back to his country. Say, O king, when he came to you thus, insulted and outraged for your honour, would you not provide him with your best garments,, and cover his shame with honour?" "So far, so good," said the king, "but what has all this to do with the case in hand? A pretty story enough, and well told, but I do not see the connection it has with you." Then the pious bishop answered, "Listen, sire. You may strip me of my earthly garments, but I have a Master who will clothe me with splendour, and fit me for His presence in glory. Shall I barter away my faith to save my garments?" Then the heathen king answered, "You have conquered; go in peace."

Christian Age.
I.MANIFESTED (vers. 18-22).

II.SUSTAINED (vers. 23-28).

III.INCREASED (vers. 29-31).

(Christian Age.)

What would the nightingale care if the toad despised her singing? She would still sing on and leave the toad to his dark shadows. And what care I for the threats of men who grovel upon the earth? I will still sing on in the bosom and ear of my God.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Courage is one of the Bible virtues. It was one of the last words of Moses to Joshua: "Be strong and of good courage." It was almost the first word of the Lord on welcoming him to his new office: "Be strong and of good courage." It was the counsel given the twelve Hebrew explorers. David recalled the energising word in his charge to Solomon, and in the Psalms he rings out the same voice to all the saints: "Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord." The correspondent word "boldness" is as often used in the New Testament. It applied to Christ Himself in His preaching; it was what Paul would have the Church pray for as a gift to him; and, as we see in this book of Acts, it was one of the distinguishing traits of the other apostles and the primitive Church. Mark, then, this instance of Christian courage —

I. AS BELONGING TO PRIVATE AND NON-PROFESSIONAL MEN This was the problem that first exercised the Sanhedrin — confidence where they looked for diffidence. They had not been trained in the schools as rhetoricians who might be expected to command their speech and self-possession before the tribunal or a popular assembly. It would have been a severe ordeal to some men of education and experience. Whence, then, the calmness of these obscure disciples? It was derived from Christ Himself. And so the Sanhedrin soon perceived. Christ, though no professed rhetorician, spoke with calmness, with knowledge and with authority, and these two disciples had taken their style from their Master. I have seen plain men, who had been brought up far from schools, but brought so near to Christ that they could not but speak of Him, and with such knowledge and calmness that they always gained a hearing.

II. AS MAINTAINED IN THE FACE OF WORLDLY ARRAY AND AUTHORITY. "What will the world say of us?" is a question many persons ask with great solicitude. Some very strong men (like Napoleon) have been very weak here. What the world will do to us is still more startling, if it has a rod in its hands and a will to use it. It seemed as if the whole world was against these two Galileans, and likely to make quick work with them. The Shepherd had been smitten; how could the flock fail to be scattered? The people rather than the rulers were the audience on Pentecost. "Your rulers" are spoken of as if absent. But now the great men began to be astir. How amazed was the Sanhedrin when these two plain men, instead of humbly begging pardon, calmly stood on their defence! They went over the gospel story as unembarrassed as if they were telling it to an audience of friends.

III. AS SUSTAINED BY THE SENSE OF A DIVINE PRESENCE. "Whether it be right in the sight of God." There being two here to judge us, which shall have the precedency? The rulers had not been with Jesus, and had not learned this lesson. If Jesus were at their side, what though the whole array of the Sanhedrin confronted them? Precisely this was what the Saviour had promised: "Lo, I am with you alway."

IV. AS HAVING THE SUPPORT OF PERTINENT AND PALPABLE FACTS. When the lame man heard of the apostles' arrest, he went before the tribunal, ready to give his testimony and share their fate. Standing upright there on his feet, what could the Sanhedrin say? How else could the apostles feet at that sight but joyful and thankful that such a miracle of mercy had been wrought by their hands? This has always been a strong support in the work for God — the good results that have attended it. Paul felt this: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ," etc.

V. AS ENCOURAGED BY THE COMPANIONSHIP OF CHRISTIAN MEN. "They went to their own company." In holy joy they lifted up their voices together in the triumphant words of the Old Testament Psalm: "Why do the Gentiles rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?" Their prayer went up for greater boldness in their Master's cause, and new wonders of grace as the fruit of it.

(W. E. Knox, D. D.)

The suggestions and the truths which may be gathered from this lesson are many and varied, for example — The vanity of combinations and conspiracies against God as affirmed in Scripture and illustrated in history. The beneficent character of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The necessity and value of mutual sympathy. The power of united and believing prayer as taught in the New Testament. The care of God over His own. The disciples had in a measure been prepared for trouble by the pre-announcement of Christ: "If they have persecured Me, they will also persecute you." But now it was in sight, and under threat of pains and penalties they were charged to keep silence. But, like the three Hebrew children of Daniel's day, they needed no time for considering the question. We find no hint or shadow of one that indicates on their part any wavering of purpose. We look for the grounds of this confidence and courage, and find them incorporated in the lesson text. This confidence was based on the omnipotence of God, which was —

1. A fundamental element of the irreligious faith. The Mosaic economy had taught them this. The history of their own people, which they still cherished, and the memories of which were dear to them, was full of illustrious evidences of the power and glory of Jehovah. They had not changed in becoming followers of Christ this fundamental faith in the God of their childhood and of their earlier manhood. This element of their religious faith was further buttressed by —

2. The convincing events of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. The facts were then, as they should be now, the unanswerable factors in the propagation of the gospel. When they beheld "the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it."

3. In addition, the Holy Ghost within them enabled them to make forceful and persuasive the truth they advocated. It is true they were neither skilled in arms nor trained in schools; they had neither wealth nor social position, but God was with them, and they were invincible. Pentecost had made them all-powerful. Let us emulate their dauntless courage, touch the sources, as they did, of supernal power, make regnant in our lives the principles they enunciated, and then the world will be at our feet as it was at theirs, and we shall go forth, as did the apocalyptic rider, on the white horse, "conquering and to conquer."

(John D. Pickles.)

S. S. Times.

1. Against God's enemies (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:6, 9, 18),

2. To keep God's law (Joshua 1:7, 23. 6; 1 Chronicles 22:13).

3. In testifying for Christ (Matthew 10:28; 1 Corinthians 16:13; Ephesians 6:10).

4. In reproving sin (Isaiah 58:1; Micah 3:8).


1. Wisdom (Ecclesiastes 7:19).

2. Grace in Christ (2 Timothy 2:1).

3. Distrust of self (2 Corinthians 12:10).

4. Righteousness (Proverbs 28:1).

5. Faith in Christ (Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 10:19).

6. Trust in God (Isaiah 50:7).

7. Fear of God (Acts 5:29).

8. Faithfulness to God (1 Timothy 3:13).

9. Prayer (ver. 29; Ephesians 3:12; Hebrews 4:16).


1. God only to be feared (Isaiah 8:12-14; Isaiah 51:12, 13; Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 10:31; Hebrews 12:28, 29).

2. Those who trust in God are safe (Proverbs 29:25).

3. God is with His servants (Isaiah 41:10).

4. God can deliver (Daniel 3:17; Jeremiah 1:8).

5. The Lord delivereth (Psalm 34:7).

6. Right requires (ver. 19).

7. God will reward (Revelation 2:10).

(S. S. Times.)

Suppose that some savages have seen a cannon charged and discharged. Suppose that when they saw it charged a second time, dreading the consequences, they should gather stones and clay, and therewith ram the cannon full to the muzzle, by way of shutting in the shot, and securing the safety of the neighbourhood. They know not the power of gunpowder when it is touched by a spark. This is the sort of blunder into which the Sanhedrin fell. They thought they could stifle the testimony of the apostles by ramming a threat of punishment down their throats. They knew not the power of faith when kindled by a spark from heaven.

(W. Arnot, D. D.)

Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye
A great and prolonged conflict was approaching. How were the Christians to meet it? We have the answer here. The apostles' heroism —

I. WAS BASED ON RIGHTEOUSNESS. "Whether it be right in the sight of God" was a rebuke to those who were only consulting the interests of Judaism or their own. But that which is based on righteousness does not find favour with unregenerate human nature, and much so-called heroism has rested on wrong.

II. WAS SUSTAINED BY REFERENCE TO GOD. All is right which is right in His sight. The apostles then referred to the only true authority, doubtless devoutly and in faith. No wonder they were heroic, for the history of their nation showed that such reference to God had stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, etc. How could they fail with Omnipotence on their side? What could the Sanhedrin be to such men? Like faith produces like heroes everywhere.

III. WAS MANIFESTED IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD. The apostles "hearkened unto God" who had spoken by Jesus, and was now speaking by the Spirit — hence the healing of the cripple, and this defence. The man who was urged to do his duty on the battlefield because he seemed to hear the voice of his country was a hero; but how much more the apostles. They heard God Himself, and as long as He was obeyed what mattered it if men were displeased.

IV. BORE THE TEST OF COMMON HUMAN INTELLIGENCE. "Judge ye." The principle was referred to as an axiom which might be evaded and practically disobeyed, but which could not be intellectually contested; and any position founded upon it is impregnable. When our ways please God we may safely submit them to the arbitrament of human judgment.

V. WAS THE CONSTANT EXPRESSION OF THE CONSTRAINT OF CONSCIENCE. "For we cannot but speak," etc. To have acted otherwise would have been to violate their consciences by wilful unfaithfulness and neglect of duty. We have seen the works of Christ in the salvation of sinners: then how dare we be silent?

(W. Hudson.)

When John Knox heard of the projected marriage of Queen Mary with the Roman Catholic prince of Spain, he rose in the pulpit at St. Giles, Edinburgh, and told the congregation that whenever they, professing the Lord Jesus, consented that a Papist should be head of their sovereign, they did, as far as in them lay, banish Christ from the realm. Mary recognised her enemy. Him alone she had failed to work upon. She sent for him, and her voice shaking between tears and passion, she said that never prince had been handled as she: she bad borne his bitterness, she had admitted him to her presence, she had endured to be reprimanded, and yet she could not be quit of him; she "vowed to God she would be avenged." The queen sobbed violently. Knox stood silent until she collected herself. He then said, "Madam, in God's presence I speak: I never delighted in the weeping of God's creatures; but seeing T have but spoken the truth as my vocation craves of me, I must sustain your Majesty's tears rather than hurt my conscience."

(H. O. Mackey.)

The great classic dramas (the Antigone of Sophocles, e.g.) frequently deal with the complications involved in the conflict between duty to God and duty to earthly authorities.

I. MAN'S CLAIMS ARE ADMITTED. Family life and social order demand that some should rule and some should serve. Scripture requires due submission to government authorities on the ground that they are ordained of God, and that resistance to them is resistance of the ordinance of God. All right and reasonable demand of human magistracy are therefore to be loyally met as indirectly the claims of God. But no human authority may interfere with a man's spiritual religion. Man's claims are limited to conduct. God alone may rule in motive, thought, opinion and feeling. Even apostles had no dominion over the disciples' faith.


1. He may as He pleases communicate His will either directly or indirectly by —

(1)His providential arrangements.

(2)His written Word.

(3)His Son.

(4)His Spirit.

2. These claims must be absolutely supreme. They, indeed, afford the test of all other claims, which must be in harmony with these, if they are to be in any sense binding upon men. The relation in which man stands to God is that of the child who recognises no authority above that of his father.

III. SHOULD THE CLAIMS OF MAN AND THE CLAIMS OF GOD COME IN CONFLICT THERE CAN BE NO QUESTION AS TO WHICH MUST YIELD. Here was such a conflict, and there were many such in the times of the prophets. The conflict is in regard to things —

1. Absolutely wrong, as when the early Christians were required to swear by the genius of the Emperor. To cease to witness for Christ, or to yield where custom, fashion and caste require what is inconsistent comes under this category.

2. Doubtful. The conflict in this case is the gravest perplexity of life, and sends us back on first principles. No one, however, need find much difficulty who accepts such counsel as this, "Be not conformed to this world," etc.

(R. Tuck, B. A.)

The Word of God is not my word; I, therefore, cannot abandon it; but in all things short of that, I am ready to be docile and obedient. You shall have my blood, my life, rather than a single word of retraction; for it is better to obey God than man. It is no fault of mine that this matter creates confusion among you. I cannot prevent the Word of Christ becoming a stumbling-block to men. I know Well thai; we must pay obedience to the civil magistrate, even though he be not a man after God's own heart; I am quite ready to pay that obedience in any matter that does not shut out the Word of God.

(M. Luther.)

We have here —

I. A CRITERION OF FREEDOM. The two men are prisoners; but who will say that they are not free? Great things may be expected of any man when he has gained the moral liberty to put this question first. The liberty of a Roman citizen at that time was costly, but, like all mere political independence, stopped far short of this. It secured mortal rights; but it could never confer the conscience which inquires, or the power to perform, what is right. That distinction between rights claimed and right done runs very deep, dividing the world into two orders of souls. It may be pure selfishness that insists on its rights. It must be unselfish duty that chooses what is right and does it in singleness of heart. A new commonwealth had just risen from the grave of Christ, and here was its watchword.


1. We have one outward witness to the religion of Jesus — the Christian propriety of domestic habits; the Christian talk of the railway and parlour; the Christian tone of literature; the Christian fashion of Sunday and ceremony. But as the eyes of God run over the Christian world, does He not seek some other proof?

2. This brings us to the vital point. Original Christianity is a religion of righteousness. Behold the Divine Man! Observe the proportions of His doctrine — how much about duty, character, the glory of right, the wretchedness of wrong; how little about anything else I Notice what kind of people hated Him — corrupt office-holders, hypocritical devourers of widows' houses, traders in virtue and blood, etc. Notice what kind of people loved Him — men that wanted to be honest and true, women that wanted to be strong in charity and pure in heart. Infer from these passions that He crossed, and from the noble aspirations that He invigorated, what it was, after three years of loving work, that drove the nails through His hands and feet. Settle it with yourself in this way, what was the vital core of His ministry? Was it not righteousness in man? Was it not to set up a kingdom of "right"? Did not Christ come and die to beget by a new faith a race of men right-thinking, right-feeling, right-reverencing, right-working? He had now but just ascended out of sight. The power of His Spirit had illuminated His messengers. Two apostles there, knowing Him thoroughly, sure of His meaning, are told to shut their lips about Him. The blood scarcely yet dry at Calvary shows that these magistrates' threats are not empty. But nothing comes into their minds but one open answer, not whether it be prudent, politic, safe, profitable, or even "necessary," but "Whether it be right." I take that to be the fundamental ground in practical Christianity. Many other things have been crowded into its place; things of. high pretension and considerable value. But we had better go back to the beginning. For what is Catholic, Evangelical, Churchly, reasonable, true as Christ is true, we had best go nowhere else but there. This is -what we mean by the appeal to primitive antiquity and apostolical authority. They make the substance of personal Christianity to be a character that you can trust. Dogma, formularies, symbols, sermons, exist for character. It is the decisive test, as to every particular action, as to its being done or let alone — "whether it be" — not lucrative, fashionable, popular, comfortable, but "right." Call Christianity a temple — this is its foundation; a kingdom — this is its law; a tree — this is the root; a stream — this is the spring; a creed — this is the conclusion of all its articles.

3. Does the world want this less now than ever before? Take two of the great departments of human conduct for a criterion.(1) Business life. It would seem that the highest law here, the ideal mercantile condition, would be that producers, sellers, and buyers should trust one another, and not be disappointed in that trust; that the money, the interest, the good name of each one should be safe in his neighbour's hands. But do not business men watch one another with distrustful anxiety? Are not the processes of trade and commerce methods of protecting one man from another's rapacity? What are all the complicated functions of the attorney, the court, the police, but a standing presumption that men will cheat if they can? Every little while comes a crash. Some hitherto unquestioned reputation collapses in disgrace. A merchant, a banker, a contractor, a trustee of orphans' inheritances, fails; so fails that integrity, truth to his creditors, gratitude to his friends, fail in him and with him. The tumbling down of all the towers and steeples of the town ought to send less shock and gloom through the air. Then, on the other hand, there appears amongst you, now and then, a man of solid virtue — so true, so unbribable, that everybody does trust him, and is never betrayed. The very rarity and refreshment of the sight tell to the same conclusion. There is a widespread lack of simple reverence for the right. There is some defect in our training. Right is not first; it comes after profit, office, position. In the summing-up of Old Testament morality there were three requirements of God: "Do justly" was the first of the three. In the new gospel test there are two conditions of acceptance for every nation; and working "righteousness" is one of the two.(2) From business turn to social entertainment. Christianity is in the world of common social life not to prohibit it or to ask leave to look on, but to regulate it by its rule, helping to sweeten it by its charity, and to elevate it by its chaste nobility. Yet as one sees what passes, and listens to what is said, he wonders how often the participators ask of this or that feature of the spectacle "Whether it be right." Are the going or staying, the indulgence or rejection, the expenditure, style, talk, dress, drink. brought to this Christian criterion of right and wrong? I speak of no artificial standard or rule; but does the question of duty, by any rule, of sin by any standard, get a fair and clear hearing of all.

4. In the gospel there are proportions. In one sense the bark of a fruit-tree is as necessary as the root or the sap, the limbs of the body as the heart. But after all we build badly, and we grow badly, unless we set things in their order, always with a view to the one end, and keep the essentials supreme. In the religion of Christ the one end is character. In the kingdom of God the honours are for those who are good and true; uprightness is the nobility; and the business of the citizens is not only to take the name of their King, and to bow in His presence, but to be like Him. An apostolic faith is not handed down, but it fails on the way unless it carries with it an apostolic conscience. Before Mammon, before the spirit of society, before gain and fashion, before all the world's rulers and elders and scribes, make your answer for God, each one alone, and then stand. In a way that will need no subtle imagination to explain, the grand issue of that old trial in Jerusalem will be yours also: "All men glorified God for that which was done."

(Bp. Huntington.)

The spirit of this reply is that calm but immoveable resolution in pursuing the course of duty which an enlightened conscience shall mark out. The reply of the apostles points out —

I. THE RULE OF PERSONAL CONDUCT; AND THIS AS CONSISTING IN AN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE AUTHORITY OF THE LAW OF CHRIST, AS REGULATING ALL THE PRINCIPLES AND ACTIONS OF LIFE. And here a very wide field opens itself, if we were to follow out this head at length. It takes in the whole length and breadth of the Christian character: it contemplates the servant of the Lord under all the conceivable circumstances of duty in which he may be placed in the world. Suffice it, therefore, to state generally that, in such a man, Christ sits as a King upon the throne of the heart. The line of duty being plainly marked out in the law of Christ, He follows it in the face of all the consequences that may ensue. He will not judge of the extent of his duty by what is acceptable, or otherwise, to those around him, but from the plain command of Christ. What will the world think of me? is a suggestion which frightens away "the fearful and unbelieving" man from following that path which the voice of God within him pronounces to be right. The fear of being reckoned what is called "righteous overmuch," or of being deemed too rigid in his principles, reconciles him to practices which his conscience condemns. Like those base flatterers who crowd the courts of kings, and know no other standard Of good and evil than their prince's burnout, so, in whatever heart the fear of man reigns, that heart will avow neither doctrine, nor sentiment, nor practice, but such as are in good odour among men, however strongly it may be enforced in God's Word as truth, and however it may be inwardly felt to be such. But while discretion regulates the conduct of the courageous Christian, and points out to him the fit time and manner of acting, yet he will not fail to discover his true character. Remembering evermore the "contradiction of sinners against Himself," which his Lord underwent, and with a sense of eternal things fastened on his mind; recollecting, too, the sting he has felt in his conscience when he may have seemed, by his silence at least, to applaud sentiments and practices opposed to the spirit of the law of Christ, he is enabled, by the united influence of all these considerations, to be prepared to risk the loss of all things, rather than desert the cause of God. Such a man, such a Christian, will feel that the more ungodly are those with whom he converses, the more imperative the call made upon him to honour God in an irreproachable life: the greater the darkness which is around him, the stronger the obligation that rests upon him to shine forth in the beauty of holiness. By this were those eminent servants of God actuated, who, in the face of a burning fiery furnace, heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated, could say to the king in whose power they were, "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter." This was the spirit of David, who said, "I will speak of Thy testimony even before kings, and will not be ashamed."

II. THE REPLY OF THE APOSTLES EXPRESSES, WITH EQUAL DECISIVENESS, THE LEADING PRINCIPLES OF PERSONAL BELIEF. If there be any part of His truth which it is plain that "God hath highly exalted"; if there be any one announcement upon which a mighty emphasis is laid by the constant repetition of it, and because it meets the view at all points, this ought to find a rank proportionably high in our own minds. This truth a Christian must learn to prize dearly, and for this earnestly contend. Such a truth, pre-eminently, ix that which teaches that "we are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith." But it is possible to hold such a system of doctrine, as shall pass for a Scriptural acceptance of this truth, while it is either a corruption of that truth, or even in its tendency subversive of it. He must be little conversant with his own heart who is not aware how reluctant man naturally is to be beholden to another for his redemption, even though it were to God Himself; and how unpalatable to the taste which Divine grace has not refined is that religion whose first claim is that all idea of personal merit be renounced. The courageous Christian finds here an exercise for his firmness.

III. The occasion on which the two apostles announced this great principle suggests to us yet another application of it: IT WAS WHEN THEY HAD BEEN PREACHING THE TRUTH OF CHRIST THAT THE PROHIBITION WHICH THEY RESISTED CAME FORTH FROM THE COUNCIL. Their answer, therefore, naturally reminds us of the foundation on which is to be constructed the rule of faith. Here, too, as in the former case, the course of a resolute follower of Christ is to be founded on a principle. It may not be self-willed, but it must be conscientious: not caprice, which is irresponsible, but reason, which is consistent, must be his guide. And the principle, on which the rule of his "faith" is constructed, is obvious and distinct. In a matter so peculiar, and so closely affecting himself, as religion, he declines to listen to any voice except that which speaks to him immediately from heaven. Whilst he acknowledges, in common with one who wrote on the evidences of Christianity, and against the infidel, that, considering the circumstances in which man is placed, it is even highly probable that a revelation should be made to man; yet, for that very reason, because it is a revelation — something hitherto unheard of that God should speak to man — he requires that the voice which speaks shall be one that shall instantly be recognised to be the voice of God. If a Roman poet, familiar to us all, could say, "'Tis when he thunders from the sky that we believe Jove is really king there," the Christian may, with much more reason, require that the voice to which he is called upon to attend in the things that everlastingly concern him shall be attended by credentials alike Divine. Those of us who admit this reason will, as a necessary consequence, take the Scriptures as our sole rule of faith. Had the Holy Ghost spoken unto us only a few enigmatical words, it had been necessary to spell and scan them with the most inquisitive earnestness, and to eke out from some other source a supplement to a communication so scanty. But, when we have a volume of such bulk, beginning with the foundation of the world, and ending with the last dispensation, it is not easy to understand upon what principle we are to look for any other communication (as from God) from any other quarter whatsoever. Nor, in thus upholding the undivided claim of the Scriptures to be the rule of faith, need any simple-minded advocate of truth be perplexed by questions that have startled some. If any should inquire how the Church is to extract from a body of truth lying scattered over so wide a surface her own confession of faith, the reply is that she can only do it by the study of that Scripture itself. To aid in ascertaining its meaning she will not disdain the writings of the pious and learned of all by-gone days; she will take them, however, as guides to her judgment, not as superseding it. The Word of God will thus be made the supreme authority; and if any should propose to modify the plain assertion of Scripture upon any point, the servant of Christ, tenacious of the principle he has adopted, will reply, "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." And yet it is remarkable that, in thus asserting the paramount duty of listening to no other voice than God's, he need not shut his ear to that of the Church; and this in two respects: first, because the Church has taught agreeably to God's teachings; and, far more, because such is the course acted upon by our Church itself. For what was the procedure of those men who drew up our doctrinal standards? They made the Scriptures the single court of appeal. With them tradition is not an assessor with Scripture upon the throne of judgment, but sits in a lower place. It may be no small satisfaction to an inquirer after the right way, thus to have it made clear to him, that he may be at once jealous for the honour of God, and not conceited]y negligent of the opinions of men. But, that the balance of truth in this matter may be duly preserved, it is well to urge that the rule of faith is not the blended voice of God and man, but that of God only. It was not until "Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child Samuel," that he bade him give to the voice this reply, "Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth."

IV. There is yet another case which comes within the range of that broad principle which the apostles Peter and John laid down. THAT PRINCIPLE WILL FURNISH A RULE FOR MAINTAINING THE PURITY OF GOD'S TRUTH. Taking the Church from its commencement, it will be seen that error has been found in it of a more or less mischievous nature. Every period has witnessed its peculiar corruptions. And thus the men of each age have had a corresponding duty imposed upon them, to be very jealous for the Lord Of Hosts. The Israelites, when the whole generation that rebelled in the wilderness were cut off, entered into Canaan, and soon fell into the idolatry of their new neighbours. Other Christians, again, were for engrafting on it the pagan philosophy, for rejecting the Old Testament and the moral law — a specious and insinuating heresy. The vigilant sentinel would cry out to those who were in danger from this subtle enemy, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, and not after Christ." But, when it shall have been successfully maintained that it is "right to hearken unto God rather than unto man" in all of these respects, the whole practical use of the demonstration may yet be lost. For some may say, "You need a key which is to unlock to each individual the sense of the Scripture, a curb to the vagrancy of each man's private construing of that very voice to which you bid him hearken. Unless you will open a door to the entrance of as many varieties of opinions as there are men to frame fancies, another voice must be listened to." Whoever will not yield up the very citadel of Christian liberty, must manfully defend the truth in this matter. It is in religion as in our daily conduct. There are certain laws of morals which are defined; and the conscience of each man is to make his own application of them to his own case. This is discipline under which we are all held, and from which none of us can escape. The keeping of ourselves from hour to hour is not by any specific rule provided for every case that can arise, but by the going back to some grand principle which we have the task of applying. If there be any truth in the foregoing remarks, then every one must gird himself with the armour of resoluteness; for a yet more subtle foe may be in the rear. When the unanswerable nature of our arguments shall have silenced the adversary, he may employ another expedient to wrest out of our hands the weapons which they grasp. The voice of God may have been so clearly heard by unwilling ears that it cannot be gainsaid; but there may be a demand set up for not speaking of these things, and for forbearing to characterise the opposed errors by such titles as probably belong to them. Under the specious plea of charity, and an abstinence from evil speaking, many, on whom the mantle of Peter and John may have fallen, will be "straightly charged to speak no more" that of which they are inwardly convinced. "We cannot but speak the things which we have heard and seen." Truth, if it be such, must find its utterance; just as love will express itself, or any other emotion: "Wisdom is justified of her children," not by their suppressing, but by their declaring her claims: "I tell you, if these should hold their peace, the very stones would cry out." Why shall not this strong language of the Lord have a fitness always as heretofore? The remarks that have been offered, if they are to be practically applied, imply such a state of things in the Church as it is never joyous to contemplate. Courage implies danger — unshaken firmness is an attitude which tells of encroachment. It suggests itself as another reflection from this subject, how painful the sensation and the effects of a period of religious dissension! The occasion which calls for firmness is not one of serenity.

(R. Eden, M. A.)

Unless I be confuted and convinced by the testimony of Scripture, or by open and clear grounds and reasons, and also those sayings, adduced and brought forward by me, be confuted, and my conscience be captivated by the Word of God, I can and will recall nothing, because it is neither safe nor advisable to do anything against conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. So help me God.

(M. Luther.)

John Nelson, the Methodist stonemason, being once desired by his master's foreman to work on the Lord's day, on the ground that the King's business required despatch, and that it was common to work on the Sabbath for His Majesty when anything was wanted in a particular haste, Nelson boldly declared, "That he would not work upon the Sabbath for any man in the kingdom, except it were to quench fire, or something that required immediate help." "Religion," says the foreman,

"has made you a rebel against the King." "No, sir," he replied, "it has made me a better subject than ever I was. The greatest enemies the King has are Sabbath-breakers, swearers, drunkards, and whoremongers, for these bring down God's judgments upon the King and country." He was told he should lose his employment if he would not obey his orders; his answer was, "He would rather want bread than wilfully offend God." The foreman swore he would be as mad as Whitefield if he went on. "What hast thou done," said he, "that thou needest make so much ado about salvation? I always took thee to be as honest a man as I have in the worlds, and would have trusted thee with £500." "So you might," answered Nelson, "and not have lost a penny by me." "I have a worse opinion of thee now," said the foreman. "Master," rejoined he, "I have the odds of you, for I have a worse opinion of myself than you can have." The issue, however, was that the work was not pursued on the Sabbath, and Nelson rose in the good opinion of his employer for having shown a sense of his duty as a Christian.

(Southey's Life of Wesley.)

was a refusal to live any longer in a lie. It was a falling back upon the undefined untheoretic rules of truth and piety which lay upon the surface of the Bible, and a determination rather to die than to mock with unreality any longer the Almighty Maker of the world.

(J. A. Froude.)

We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard
I. THAT WHICH THE CHRISTIAN HAS HEARD IS WORTH REPEATING. He knew not God — words from heaven have revealed to him God. He was far from God — words from heaven have been the means of leading him nigh to God. His heart was at enmity towards God — words from heaven have been the means of reconciling him to God. He knew not how he could be pardoned — words from heaven have directed him to the Lamb of God. So timid was the Christian before he heard these words that he was like a soldier who trembles at the flutter of his own banner, and starts at the clangour of his own trumpet — words from heaven have so aroused his latent courage, that now, armour-clad, and sword, in hand, he glories in the battle of a true life, and instead of shrinking cowardly from the conflict, he now, in the thickest, sharpest warfare stands. Verily, worthy of the world's acceptation are words which are God's power unto salvation. And, think you, will the winds waft these words of God? Will the waters spread these Divine voices? Not your winds, O ye husbandmen, not your waters, O ye merchants; but the currents which carried Peter onwards when he said, "I cannot but speak," and the breath which moved John when He testified, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."


1. Observe the order in which religious belief and speech are hero placed. We have heard; and we cannot but speak. This is like Paul's language, and it is in harmony with that of David, "I believed, and therefore have I spoken. We also believe, and therefore speak." This order has been reversed, and much mischief has been the result. Are not children often made to say, "We are members of Christ, we believe in God the Father Almighty, and in His Son," while all evidence is wanting of such union, and of such faith? And converts, before they enter Christian communion, are often required to confess their belief in all the doctrines which that community holds. In some cases men publicly teach and preach before they believe, and the mischief of this false speech is most terrible. Immediately a lad has acquired a few religious ideas, he is often ushered into a Sabbath-school to speak. So soon as an adult is religiously impressed he must confess himself a Christian publicly, and speak. And when he has made a profession, he must be hurried into some sphere of Christian instruction to speak. Now where is the Nazareth in which Christ's disciples are brought up? Where the wilderness that precedes the showing unto Israel? Where the men who, like Paul, sojourn in Arabia before acknowledging Christ in Jerusalem? Premature effort makes weak Christians, and if you would have in Christ's Church strong Christians, men who can work, you will certainly keep all young converts for a time at Nazareth; and even after that you will sometimes send them into the wilderness. We have no confidence in number; our confidence is in the right men to do certain things. Faith comes by healing — faith grows by listening — doubts are dispersed by waiting and by inquiry. Moreover, listening, while it permits the honest, unwilful doubter to suspend his confession, is the best means of guiding such into that integrity of faith in which, like Thomas, they can address as living the Saviour whom they thought dead, and cry, "My Lord and my God." We cannot be always silent, that would be concealment; and we dare not be always reserved, that would mislead; we speak. There is something in the very principle of faith which moves to utterance.

2. But while it is of the nature of faith to incline to speech, that testimony which is the object of Christian faith, exerts the same influence. For what is it that the Christian has heard? Faithful sayings, worthy of all acceptation. And if his heart be right, sensitive, alive, it cannot be to him a matter of indifference whether or not men hear and believe that which he has heard and believed. The word that he has heard is a Divine word; and he would have others hear, that God may be glorified. It is the message of reconciliation; and he would have others hear, that they, too, may be reconciled. The origin, the worth, and the truth of the gospel, move the believer to speak. Its utility, its wonderfulness, the good-will to man that it induces, the believer's own conscience, obligation to the gospel, all move him to speak. If the Christian history appeared to him a fable, seriousness might bid him" hold his peace; if the Christian doctrine were doubtful, integrity will command silence; but the tendency of the believer's faith in the gospel is to move him to speak.

3. And beside the inward impulse, there is an external demand for honest, Christian speech. The disciple of Christ believes that which multitudes around him have not heard; and as he detects, by many symptoms, their ignorance, the spirit of faith saith, "Inform them — speak." He binds to his heart that which many reject; and the spirit of faith saith, "Repeat that which you have heard, persuade, warn, speak." He sees many perishing for lack of that remedy, of that provision by which he is saved; and the spirit of faith saith, "Tell of the antidote to sinfulness — speaking." The Christian in the midst of an ignorant community is like a fountain in the desert; a beacon on a dangerous coast; like his Master when surrounded by a multitude of the sick and needy in Palestine. Lepers are before him — he knows what will cleanse the leper. The palsied and the paralysed are around him — he knows what will re-animate the withered nerves. Divers diseases are exhibited to him — he knows what will remove them all. For sin in all its forms, for evil in all its workings and results, the Christian knows a remedy, and has a remedy. "Then keep not silence about it, but of it — intelligently, lovingly, earnestly, incessantly, but seasonably, speak."


1. Multitudes, by voice and pen, are sneering at religious faith and speech. Be not driven from either by the sneers of men; but let us learn from them. There is some excuse for them. The world has heard the Church say she believes what the Church cannot prove that she has ever heard; and the world has had reason to suspect that some Christians speak that which they do not believe. Paul told Titus, "There are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, whose mouths must be stopped." So you see it is not simply talking about religion that the world wants and that the Church requires, but it is seasonable talking, talking about the right thing.

2. We increase our faith by listening. The mere prayer for increase of faith is not enough. How many precious moments in the day are lost, during which you might be directing your ear to Christ! Do not say that there is any incongruity between your listening to the voice of Christ, and your standing before a bench or behind the counter. Wherever it is right for you to be it is right for you to speak to your Saviour. And if you think that you honour Him by fancying that you must be in the place of worship to think of Him, or that you must have the Bible always open before you, you make a very serious mistake; for you want Christ with you everywhere. Thomas Carlyle recommends as a remedy for the false speech of the age, that the tongues of one generation should be cut out. But the cure for the truthless utterances of the Church will be found in placing listening to Christ before believing — in meditation upon the object of faith, and in placing speech after this meditation. Such bridling of the tongue will make perfect men; while clipping of the tongue, as Carlyle forgets, would only make maimed men; and God's way of redeeming a man is not to maim him, but to make him whole.

3. As it is not mere faith that saves us, but faith in Christ, so it is not religious speech that the world needs, but speech of true religion. As our interpretations of the Bible are not necessarily the Bible, so no Christian system is Christ, and some systems called by His name have no connection at all with Him. Do not let men hear so much about my views (for of what consequence are they?), our principles, our Church, our denomination, our fathers, our tradition, our theology; for amid these sounds men lose the only Name by which a sinner can be saved.

(S. Martin.)


1. Entertaining it in the mind, so as for the judgment to approve, from a conviction of its importance.

2. Yielding to it, as God's method of acceptance.

3. So feeling its influence as that the character shall be changed. This faith, generally speaking, comes by listening to Divine truth. "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God."


1. Imparting spiritual knowledge to those with whom we are acquainted — husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, etc.

2. Giving Christian education. We commend the cultivation of the mind, but let us not neglect the sanctification of the heart.

3. Distribution of religious tracts, of books, such as "Baxter's Call," Romaine's "Walk of Faith," etc., but especially of the sacred Scriptures, which are able to make wise to salvation, through faith in Jesus Christ.

4. The preaching of the gospel.

5. Deportment becoming the gospel.

III. THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE TWO. Where there is a real spiritual reception of the gospel there will be a publication of it arising from the following considerations.

1. Sympathy with the distressed.

2. Love to the Redeemer.

3. Anxiety for the cause will induce this.

4. The happiness to be possessed here and hereafter.

5. The glory that will be secured to God.

(W. Lucy.)

I have heard say that in the old Bread Riots, when men were actually starving for bread, no word had such a terribly threatening and alarming power about it as the word "Bread!" when shouted by a starving crowd. I have read a description by one who once heard this cry: he said he had been startled at night by a cry of "Fire!" but when he heard the cry of "Bread! bread!" from those that were hungry, it seemed to cut him like a sword. Whatever bread had been in his possession he must at once have handed it out. So it is with the gospel; when men are once aware of their need of it, there is no monopolising it. None can make "a ring" or "a corner" over the precious commodity of heavenly truth. Neither can any one put this candle under a bushel so as quite to conceal its light. It cannot be hid, because there are so many that want it. They are pining, these myriads of London, these myriads all over the world; and though they hardly know it, yet there is a cry coming up for ever from them for something which they can never find, except in Christ. You may depend upon it you cannot stop the gospel being preached while there is this awful hunger after it in the souls of men.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

If you really study God's Word, I believe you'll get so full of it that you can't help but speak it out. The reason so many don't care to work for God is, that they are so empty they cannot find anything to say. You can't bring water out of a dry well. There are two ways of getting water; the one is by pumping. Now many Christians are like these pumps, you have to pump a long time before you get anything. The other kind of well is what they call artesian; they just dig down until they come to the very fountain itself, hundreds of feet below, then up springs the water into the air, they don't need any pumping then. I wish Christians would be like artesian wells ever springing up to eternal life.

(D. L. Moody.)

Gideon Ousely was impressed with the thought that he ought to preach Jesus Christ to the people; he hesitated for a time till a voice came to him, as if asking, "Gideon, do you know the nature of the evil?" He said, "Yes, I do. I know the nature of sin." "Do you know the remedy?" "Yes, I do." "Then go and tell it." We know the nature of the disease, and we know the only remedy is God's remedy in Jesus Christ, and we must go and make the remedy known to those who are in the dark valleys of the shadow of sin. There comes to my mind the story of one of our own missionaries in Wales, who, when he was converted, was so full of joy that he ran out of the meeting shouting. A boy went up to him and said, "What's to do? What's to do?" Then the man — Griffith Griffiths, well known to many of us — took sixpence out of his pocket, and said to the lad, "Here, go and tell the people that God has saved Griffith Griffiths." He gave the boy sixpence to do it. He felt that as soon as he knew Jesus Christ it was his business to make Jesus Christ known to others.

(J. S. Balmer.)

A gentleman, sitting in an arbour in the middle of a wood, saw an ant running along the surface of a rustic table which was in front of him. Knowing that ants are fond of sugar, and having a small lump of loaf sugar in his pocket, he placed it on the table, and set himself to watch the movements of the ant. As he expected, the ant soon discovered it, and began sipping. But it had scarcely partaken of it, when, to his great surprise, it scampered off and disappeared. A short time after, however, it returned, followed by some two or three hundred of its friends; from which it appeared that the ant had no sooner tasted the sweet morsel, than it went to invite its friends to become partakers of its joy. And so it is with all who have tasted the joy of salvation. No sooner does Christ become precious to their souls than, like Peter and John, they "cannot but speak" of Him to others.

An evangelist in an inquiry meeting asked a woman, "Are you resting in Jesus?" Very indignantly she replied, "It is nothing to you whether I am or not; besides, I would not speak about such a subject to any one but God!" In about a fortnight the evangelist was in another inquiry, meeting, and saw this same person speaking very earnestly to another woman. Drawing near to them, he heard her telling the stranger about her own conversion to Christ, and pressing the woman to follow Jesus at once. Much gratified, the evangelist, thinking to test her, said, "Madam, madam, keep your mouth shut on that subject!" "Keep my mouth shut!" she replied, with enthusiasm, "I cannot do it, sir; I must speak about Jesus." So when they had further threatened them, they let them go. —

I. IT WAS ACCOMPANIED WITH GREAT WRONG. "They further threatened them." The dreadful language which had hitherto stood in the place of argument was now made more dreadful. We see here proofs of iniquity, of a settled prejudice against Jesus and His work, and of absolute unwillingness to yield to the evidence of facts. But these threats were sure to be answered as the previous ones.

II. IT WAS A CONFESSION THAT THE COURT WAS BAFFLED. "Finding nothing how they might punish them." They had a mind to punish, they had done their best to do so, but severally and unitedly they had failed; and now prudence moved them to do what was no part of their pleasure. They barked and snarled, but were afraid to bite. Often have persecutors been in such a case.

III. IT WAS IN DEFERENCE TO A PREVALENT POPULAR SENTIMENT. "Because of the people." The people were wiser than their rulers, and more religious.

(W. Hudson.)

Alexander, Annas, Barnabas, Caiaphas, David, Herod, John, Joseph, Joses, Peter, Pilate
Cyprus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Solomon's Colonnade
Altogether, Apostles, Charged, Commanded, Ordered, Orders, Recalled, Speak, Speaking, Statements, Summoned, Teach, Teaching
1. The rulers of the Jews, offended with Peter's sermon,
3. imprison him and John.
5. After, upon examination
8. Peter boldly avouching the lame man to be healed by the name of Jesus,
11. and that only by the same Jesus we must be eternally saved,
13. they threaten him and John to preach no more in that name,
23. whereupon the church flees to prayer.
31. And God, by moving the place where they were assembled, testifies that he heard their prayer;
34. confirming the church with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and with mutual love and charity.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Acts 4:18

     7793   teachers
     8730   enemies, of believers
     8787   opposition, to God

Acts 4:1-20

     2427   gospel, transmission

Acts 4:5-21

     7565   Sanhedrin

Acts 4:13-20

     5714   men

Acts 4:15-18

     2426   gospel, responses

Acts 4:17-18

     7742   missionaries, support

Acts 4:17-21

     8833   threats

Acts 4:18-20

     5542   society, positive
     5931   resistance
     7740   missionaries, call
     7758   preachers, call
     7760   preachers, responsibilities
     8221   courage, strength from God
     8253   faithfulness, examples

Acts 4:18-21

     5624   witnesses, to Christ

Acts 4:18-31

     5960   success

Chester Cathedral, 1871. Acts iv. 13, 18-20. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. . . . And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

February 16 Morning
Thy name is as ointment poured forth.--SONG 1:3. Christ . . . hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.--Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.--God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.--In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. If ye love me, keep my commandments.--The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

With and Like Christ
'Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.' --ACTS iv. 13. Two young Galilean fishermen, before the same formidable tribunal which a few weeks before had condemned their Master, might well have quailed. And evidently 'Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest,' were very much astonished
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Impossible Silence
'We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.' --ACTS iv. 20. The context tells us that the Jewish Council were surprised, as they well might be, at the boldness of Peter and John, and traced it to their having been with Jesus. But do you remember that they were by no means bold when they were with Jesus, and that the bravery came after what, in ordinary circumstances, would have destroyed any of it in a man? A leader's execution is not a usual recipe for heartening his followers,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

The Wheat and the Tares
'And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.' --ACTS iv. 32. 'And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.'--ACTS v. 11. Once more Luke pauses and gives a general survey of the Church's condition. It comes in appropriately at the end of the account of the triumph over the first assault of civil authority, which assault
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

The First Blast of Tempest
'And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2. Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto 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. 5. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Obedient Disobedience
'But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. 22. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. 23. And being let go they
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

The Servant and the Slaves
'Thy servant David...'; 'Thy Holy Servant Jesus...'; 'Thy servants...'--ACTS iv. 26, 27, 29. I do not often take fragments of Scripture for texts; but though these are fragments, their juxtaposition results in by no means fragmentary thoughts. There is obvious intention in the recurrence of the expression so frequently in so few verses, and to the elucidation of that intention my remarks will be directed. The words are parts of the Church's prayer on the occasion of its first collision with the civil
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Scriptural Christianity
"Whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head." Ezek. 33:4. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." Acts 4:31. 1. The same expression occurs in the second chapter, where we read, "When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all" (the Apostles, with the women, and the mother of Jesus, and his brethren) "with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Christ's People --Imitators of Him
First, then, this morning, I will tell you what a Christian should be; secondly, I will tell you when he should be so; thirdly, why he should be so; and then fourthly how he can be so. I. As God may help us then, first of all, we will speak of WHAT A BELIEVER SHOULD BE. A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, and you have admired the talent of the persons who could write so well; but the best life of Christ is his
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855

The Way of Salvation
What a great word that word "salvation" is! It includes the cleansing of our conscience from all past guilt, the delivery of our soul from all those propensities to evil which now so strongly predominate in us; it takes in, in fact, the undoing of all that Adam did. Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen estate; and yet it is something more than that, for God's salvation fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell. It finds us broken in pieces by the sin of our first
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

A Manifestation of God in Answer to Prayer
A MANIFESTATION OF GOD IN ANSWER TO PRAYER ". . . When they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness." -- Acts 4:31. This remarkable manifestation of God reveals the effectiveness of prevailing prayer. It vividly discloses the fact that prayer can accomplish much. It is apparent that neither the apostles, nor the assembled company of devout believers were astonished at the marvelous
T. M. Anderson—Prayer Availeth Much

Against the Modern Free-Thinkers.
Sir, THERE arrived in this neighbourhood, two days ago, one of your gay gentlemen of the town, who being attended at his entry with a servant of his own, besides a countryman he had taken up for a guide, excited the curiosity of the village to learn whence and what he might be. The countryman (to whom they applied as most easy of access) knew little more than that the gentleman came from London to travel and see fashions, and was, as he heard say, a Free-thinker; what religion that might be he could
Joseph Addison—The Evidences of the Christian Religion, with Additional Discourses

The Church of God.
More than one hundred times the words church and churches are used in the New Testament. It is always translated from ekklesia. Most translators agree that a more correct translation of this Greek word would have been congregation. "The church of God" would then have read, "Congregation of God." "The church of the first-born" would have read, "The congregation of the first-born." The church that was at Antioch would have read, "The congregation that was at Antioch," etc. What Is The Church Or
Charles Ebert Orr—The Gospel Day

Paul at Sea. Acts xxvii. 22-25.
"There's no hope," said the captain, "the ship cannot live in such a storm." "There's no hope," said the military officer, "we shall never see Rome." "There's no hope," said the prisoners, "we shall die at sea instead of on the scaffold." One prisoner, however, had hope, and in the long run made all his companions to hope. Paul cried out, "BE OF GOOD CHEER, FOR THERE STOOD BY ME THIS NIGHT THE ANGEL OF GOD, WHOSE I AM, AND WHOM I SERVE, SAYING, FEAR NOT, PAUL, THOU MUST BE BROUGHT BEFORE CAESAR,
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread

"And all that Believed were Together. " Acts 4:44.
"And all that believed were together." Acts 4:44. 1 Restore, O Father! to our times restore The peace which filled thine infant church of yore; Ere lust of power had sown the seeds of strife, And quenched the new-born charities of life. 2 O never more may differing judgments part From kindly sympathy a brother's heart; But linked in one, believing thousands kneel, And share with each the sacred joy they feel. 3 From soul to soul, quick as the sunbeam's ray, Let concord spread one universal
J.G. Adams—Hymns for Christian Devotion

Ananias and Sapphira
BY REV. GEORGE MILLIGAN, M.A., D.D. One of the most striking features of the early Christian Church was what we have come to know as Christian Communism, or as the historian describes it in Acts iv, 32: "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common." It is a bright and a pleasing picture that is thus presented. Nor is it difficult to understand how such a spirit
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known

Whether Explicit Belief in the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ is Necessary for the Salvation of Everybody
Whether Explicit Belief in the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ is Necessary for the Salvation of Everybody We proceed to the seventh article thus: 1. It seems that explicit belief in the mystery of the incarnation of Christ is not necessary for the salvation of everybody. A man is not required to have explicit belief in matters of which angels are ignorant, since the faith is made explicit by divine revelation, which reaches men through the medium of angels, as was said in the preceding article.
Aquinas—Nature and Grace

St. Cyprian.
PART I (AD 200-253) About the same time with Origen lived St Cyprian, bishop of Carthage. He was born about the year 200, and had been long famous as a professor of heathen learning, when he was converted at the age of forty-five. He then gave up his calling as a teacher, and, like the first Christians at Jerusalem (Acts iv. 34f), he sold a fine house and gardens, which he had near the town, and gave the price, with a large part of his other money, to the poor. He became one of the clergy of Carthage,
J. C. Roberston—Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation

Whether There is but one Divine Law?
Objection 1: It would seem that there is but one Divine law. Because, where there is one king in one kingdom there is but one law. Now the whole of mankind is compared to God as to one king, according to Ps. 46:8: "God is the King of all the earth." Therefore there is but one Divine law. Objection 2: Further, every law is directed to the end which the lawgiver intends for those for whom he makes the law. But God intends one and the same thing for all men; since according to 1 Tim. 2:4: "He will have
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether it is Necessary for the Salvation of All, that they Should Believe Explicitly in the Mystery of Christ?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not necessary for the salvation of all that they should believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ. For man is not bound to believe explicitly what the angels are ignorant about: since the unfolding of faith is the result of Divine revelation, which reaches man by means of the angels, as stated above [2287](A[6]; [2288]FP, Q[111], A[1]). Now even the angels were in ignorance of the mystery of the Incarnation: hence, according to the commentary of Dionysius (Coel.
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether all are Bound to Receive Baptism?
Objection 1: It seems that not all are bound to receive Baptism. For Christ did not narrow man's road to salvation. But before Christ's coming men could be saved without Baptism: therefore also after Christ's coming. Objection 2: Further, Baptism seems to have been instituted principally as a remedy for original sin. Now, since a man who is baptized is without original sin, it seems that he cannot transmit it to his children. Therefore it seems that the children of those who have been baptized, should
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Christ Worked Miracles Fittingly on Men?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ worked miracles unfittingly on men. For in man the soul is of more import than the body. Now Christ worked many miracles on bodies, but we do not read of His working any miracles on souls: for neither did He convert any unbelievers to the faith mightily, but by persuading and convincing them with outward miracles, nor is it related of Him that He made wise men out of fools. Therefore it seems that He worked miracles on men in an unfitting manner. Objection 2:
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Christ Suffered in a Suitable Place?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not suffer in a suitable place. For Christ suffered according to His human nature, which was conceived in Nazareth and born in Bethlehem. Consequently it seems that He ought not to have suffered in Jerusalem, but in Nazareth or Bethlehem. Objection 2: Further, the reality ought to correspond with the figure. But Christ's Passion was prefigured by the sacrifices of the Old Law, and these were offered up in the Temple. Therefore it seems that Christ ought
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

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