On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew near to the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:…
Peter was a type of the better class of sincere, humble, open-minded doubters. There is no affinity between his case and that of the inveterate, conceited, and propagandist sceptic who airs his infidelities as symptomatic of genius, and bids thereby for leadership in modern thought. But there is considerable resemblance between the apostle and a large class who deserve from us what he received from God — sympathy and guidance.
I. THE CAUSE OF DOUBT.
1. Prejudice arising from early education. Peter only held what he had been taught upon parental, ministerial, and even Divine authority. Much of modern doubt is a mere matter of prejudice. Ideas received as truths from others clash with what Christians believe to be Divine truths, and the former are preferred.
2. Habit. The ingrained custom of eating only "clean" meat, and conversing only with "clean" men, incapacitated Peter to conceive of the abandonment of ceremonial distinctions. And so there is a sceptical habit of thought which grows with indulgence, and which almost without any volition on the part of the doubter bars the entrance of Christian truth.
3. Narrow views of God's dispensations and purposes. What God meant for a time only, Peter held He meant forever. So sometimes the sceptic fastens on some temporary act or partial principle of the Divine administration as types of the whole. He raises objections, e.g., against suffering, overlooking its disciplinary character, or against the immoralities of some of God's agents, forgetting that God makes the wrath of men to praise Him.
4. Mental unrest. The vision was the cause of Peter's doubts. His mind was in a state of chaos, as the foundations of all that he held dear and certain seemed to be undermined. All the convictions instilled by training, ingrained by habit, and deepened by narrow but intense thought, suddenly began to give way — a state of mind familiar to sincere doubters. The truth has not dawned, but all that justifies scepticism as a defensible intellectual mood has disappeared.
II. ITS CURE.
1. The illumination of the Spirit of God. Reason will not resolve doubt, hence the futility of mere controversy. Truth must be apprehended by the heart, and only He who made it, and knows what it needs, can reach that. Pray, and sooner or later the Comforter will guide you into all truth.
2. Promptitude and activity in duty. "Arise and get down." Brooding over it will only intensify that morbidity of mind which is its most fruitful soil. Working will at least find an outlet for the imprisoned sentiments which knock so painfully at the interior walls of the soul. And get about some practical employment at once. Delays are weakening.
3. Obedience to Divine impulses. These are seldom still in the seeker after truth. What God's Spirit did to Peter miraculously He does for us naturally by impressions, opportunities, strange feelings leading or driving us now here and now there. But as Peter's going with the men led to the dissolving of his doubts, so if any man will do God's will he shall know of the doctrine.
4. The cure is often effected by unexpected incidents, and in unlikely ways; but the man who prays, works, and is obedient to the light he has, will find these lying across life's ordinary path.
(J. W. Burn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: