Cornelius: a Model for Volunteers
Acts 10:1-48
There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,…

1. How often Roman officers are honourably mentioned in Scripture. "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof," etc., was the humble language of one of them. "Truly this man was the Son of God!" cried another, as he witnessed the Crucifixion. How humane and prudent the chief captain who saved St. Paul from scourging and treachery; or the centurion who saved all the prisoners from execution at Melita, in order to secure the life of St. Paul! It says much for the discipline of the Roman army that men of such humanity and intelligence were promoted to places of authority, and partly accounts for the marvellous successes of that wonderful nation; while, again, it testifies to the power of Christianity, that men so much opposed to it should be induced to admire those in whom it was seen most conspicuously. Look now, however, at this centurion mentioned in the text. You, who have volunteered to buckle on the sword in defence of your country, may well contemplate the picture of this good soldier of Caesar and of Christ.

2. Note his bravery. Some say that Christianity and bravery cannot co-exist, Nonsense! The Christian is the only brave man in existence. Ungodly men are the cowards! Why is it that so many never enter the house of God, or make a profession of religion? Because they are ashamed to be taunted with the title of saint or Christian. Not so, Cornelius. He was valiant as a soldier serving beneath the Roman eagles. He was brave, too, as he showed his anxiety to enlist under the banner of the Cross!

3. He was also religiously brave, for he is described as "a devout man, and one that feared God." He was at this period in a most interesting state of mind. He had come over from Rome a worshipper of false gods. While in Judaea, he appears to have become convinced that heathenism was wrong; and, in searching after truth, he was probably influenced by the proceedings of the devout among the Jews in Caesarea. He also became "devout." How he reproves the careless talkers in Christian England, whose lips are often glib for the oath, and ready for the immoral jest!

4. The acorn contains the oak, and the hero may be often discovered in the recruit. It is beautiful to notice in the centurion the early germ which needed only the fuller light of the gospel to bring it into maturity. This "devout man" already "feared God." It would require more moral courage than many who have been enlisted under Christ's banner possess, to enable them to say, "I fear God." It is a noble testimony when a man can "put down" the scene of godless hilarity and the foolish jesting of the scoffer by any such noble confession.

5. And now observe a yet more eloquent proof of the reality of the work which was proceeding in that man's soul! Cornelius, if he had been a hypocrite, might have disguised the fact from his soldiers and from his neighbours; but he would hardly succeed with his household. What a testimony it is to this noble centurion, that he stood not alone in his family, while he avowed his creed in Jehovah as the Lord God of heaven and earth! "He feared God with all his house." It may be one great cause why we have so few specimens of thorough family religion that the consistency which adorned this centurion is not found in modern professors.

6. And there is yet another testimony to his sincerity. It is usual for officers to select their attendants and servants from amongst the soldiers of their regiment. Cornelius did so, and when he was bidden to send for Peter, to whom could he look for ambassador on so important an enterprise? Does it not tell a tale that he found no sort of difficulty? He could look at home and find persons whose character fitted them to go, ay, and in the ranks of his own men as well (ver. 7).

7. Notice further how excellently this truth seeking man endeavoured to live according to his profession. He "gave much. alms to the people." True religion is an active, living energy, which influences you in everyone of your proceedings. It enforces acts of self-denial; and in this list of self-denying deeds is the act of almsgiving.

8. "Thy prayers" too! I can remember when it was considered a soldier-like act to swear lustily. Happily that day is over; but the day has not yet arrived when a prayerful soldier, or indeed a prayerful civilian, is not exposed occasionally to scorn and derision for his piety. Conclusion: You who have come forward so nobly, when your queen and country were imperilled, aim to rival the Roman in bravery, and see that you are not outdone by him in the heartiness of your piety, and in your confession of Christ.

(G. Venables, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,

WEB: Now there was a certain man in Caesarea, Cornelius by name, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment,

Cornelius, the Truth Seeker
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