Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brothers…
Now when they heard this, etc.
I. THE TRUE RELIGIOUS AWAKENING.
1. Distinguished from mere excitement; from educational and conventional preparation for public acknowledgment of Christianity; from an attitude produced by personal influences or circumstances, as a child pressed to call itself a Christian by parental affection, or a member of a congregation almost unconsciously carried forward to a position which has no true and deep feeling to support it.
2. The fruit of preaching, or other setting forth of the facts of the gospel in relation to the individual. The hearers were pricked to the heart, because they felt the application to themselves of the apostle's appeal. He did not employ any irregular or even sensational methods; he proclaimed the facts. He said, "You are verily guilty; the promise is made unto you." Directness of appeal cannot fail of its effects.
3. The work of a special bestowal of the Spirit. It was intelligent, conscientious, heartfelt, outspoken. There is no intimation of any abnormal manifestations, but simply the calm, earnest question of personal anxiety: "What shall we do?" Spiritual life begins in different ways, but it will always be marked by conviction of sin and acceptance of offered grace. Heart, conscience, life, - all changed.
II. THE TRUE BEGINNING OF RELIGIOUS LIFE.
1. It is towards God. The inner man recognizing the facts, responding to the appeal, turning the heart from its perversity and selfishness, feeling and acknowledging the greatness of the sin and the danger of condemnation. The tendency to multitudinism is one of the most injurious in modern life. The gathering of masses, not really changed towards God, into the associations of the Church, and so into a state of calm security as to their religious prospects, is a barrier to a vital, spiritual advancement. Better the Church should not be increased with its thousands, than that they should be mere nominal Christians.
2. It is towards man. They addressed themselves to Peter and the rest of the apostles. Religious life is not a solitary thing, not a mere matter between the soul and God; but between the man and his fellow-man - between the individual believer and the Church of Christ. The questions of the anxious and seeking souls should be drawn out by the Church. The Church should present itself to the world in such a way that the questions should be both humbly and affectionately asked. There is an authority of superior knowledge and experience and tried character which should be able to make itself felt. Yet men should see that we are their brethren, and that love to their souls is our ruling motive. "What shall we do?" Though we often teach men their moral helplessness and nothingness - that Christ has done all - still all true religious life means action; life must reveal energy, express itself in conscious, steadfast effort. The apostle immediately directed the awakened people to do something for themselves. "Be baptized;" "Come out and be separate." While it is possible to press an immature religious life to too early an acknowledgment, it is well to follow the apostolic precedents, and seal impression and resolve, with decided action and public testimony. We must cast ourselves on God. We are safer in the Church than in the world. Everywhere there is temptation, but the pledged Christian will have help in his holy vows. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?