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having spread out various articles of clothing which she had employed herself in making for the poor. Peter desired them to desist, and sent them out of the room; he then kneeled down and spent some time in prayer; after which, addressing the corpse, he called the name of Tabitha, and bid her arise. Upon this, the spirit came again to the body; she raised her eyelids, and looking at Peter, she immediately sat upright. Peter gave her his hand, and assisted her to get off the bier upon which she had been stretched for burial. Then Peter called in the christians, and the women who had been making the lamentations, and whom he had sent out of the room; when all these came in, he presented to them the risen Dorcas.
The news of this wonderful miracle was immediately spread all over the town, and was the means of converting many of the Jews to the faith of the Lord Jesus. Peter afterwards remained a long time in Joppa, having taken up his abode at the house of a tanner named Simon.
1. Though God in his wisdom sees fit to purify his church by the fiery trials to which it is exposed, when the opposition of the world has its full power, yet He never suffers his people to be tried above what they are able to bear; nor does he permit the rage of the enemies to go one step beyond that degree of suffering which He sees to be needful. As the walls of a city need repairing after a siege, so the church must be built up at intervals after the attacks of the enemy; and when the Almighty sees this to be necessary, He who has all hearts and all events in his power, may make use of any to produce the desired effect. The insane vanity of the emperor Caius was permitted to break forth, as a means of producing that course of events which brought a needful period of peace to the Lord's people. This is one instance in which we may perceive how the wisdom of God has but to allow the folly of Satan to defeat his own cunning, in order to make him work the divine purposes. And doubtless there are many similar, but more minute manifestations of the same wisdom which occur daily; when, for instance,
the Lord sees fit to give a pause for gaining strength to christians, who are tried and well nigh overcome, by the worry of domestic persecution, and who need a rest in which their soul may be edified, and have time to realize the fear of the Lord and the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Some plan of worldliness or self-indulgence-some excess of folly fills the mind of the opposing member of a family, or the spiteful hinderer of comfort;-Satan seems to possess him, and urge him on in some plan that occupies him; but it makes a timely diversion from the persecution which would have been too much for the poor trembling, almost failing christian, for whose sake God allows this unrestrained influence of Satan. It will be very beautiful, and very blessed, to trace hereafter these divine reasons for many an unaccountable course of evil in wicked and worldly-minded persons.
When my heart has found a season of rest in the midst of outward trial from others, have I attempted to trace the goodness of God in the providential circumstances which caused it? Have I diligently employed such a season for edification, and the strengthening of comfort in the Holy Ghost?
2. If the ministry of the word of God be an important means by which his people are strengthened to stand in the day of trial, it is a no less suitable blessing in supplying the means of edification in seasons of peace. apostles knew this; and Peter took the opportunity of the calm in outward affairs, to go amongst the christians every where to comfort them, and build them up in the faith. Though this may have a more especial application to the conduct of Christ's ministers, yet it affords an example which every private christian may follow in some degree; so far at least as the principle of christian love is involved in it, and can be directed according to the circumstances of private persons. If it is a duty to assist a brother christian while he is in trial or temptation, it is no less so to seize the occasion when the trials are passed, to recal to his mind the mercies of God in chastening, and in supporting under chastisement; and to help in preparing a brother
for God's future dispensations, by taking sweet counsel with him concerning the best interests of the soul, and the salvation that is in Christ. This part of a christian's duty is not so often acted upon, as the more obvious one of comforting a brother under affliction, yet is it as needful, and often more profitable; for there is more capacity for serious reflexion when a trouble is gone by, than while all the energy of the mind is exercised in meeting the suffering.
Have I taken advantage of those seasons of peace which have followed the trials of my christian friends, to talk to them of spiritual things, in the hope of establishing them more firmly in faith, and hope, and love?
3. The miracles which were performed at the word of Peter were strengthening to the faith of the persons already converted, as manifesting that the miraculous evidence which had often been afforded to God's people during persecution, was not withdrawn from them when the persecutors allowed them to rest: while they must also have been striking to the unconverted, as proving that these tokens of the presence of Jesus whom they had crucified, were still abiding in the church which they persecuted. It was in the name of Jesus that Peter spoke of the healing of Æneas—it was with prayer to Jesus that he called back the departed spirit of Dorcas. This is the distinction between these miracles of the apostles, and those performed by our Lord himself;-Jesus said to the corpse at the gates of Nain, "Young man, I say unto thee, arise;" and to the leper, "I will be thou clean." Peter said to Eneas, "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole;" and before raising Tabitha, he knelt down and prayed. The mode used by Jesus afforded a proof of his perfect divinity; and the testimony of Peter's manner of performing these miracles was to the same effect. Accordingly we find that in both these cases the result was, that Peter's testimony to Christ was received at Lydda and the valley of Saron by all the people, who "turned to the Lord," and at Joppa by many, who "believed in the Lord." The same testimony is afforded to us, by the records of these miracles
being preserved to us through the inspired word of God; and the reading of them should confirm our faith, as the facts excited the faith of those who saw them performed.
What effect upon me has the thought of the healing of Eneas, and the raising from death of Dorcas? Does it make me realize more clearly the divine power of the Lord Jesus Christ in his church? Does it lead me to anticipate more faithfully the exercise of that power which will take place at his coming, to give to His people a body that shall never suffer, whilst raising them from the dead.
Thou gracious God, who governest all things, mercifully watch over my spirit, and knowing my frame, do thou who canst be touched with the feeling of my infirmities, direct events so that I may not be tried above what I am able to bear. But be thou my shield and defence, and restrain the wrath of the enemy that it cause me not to fall. And while thou thus teachest me to value more fully the blessing of preservation from outward trials, teach me also to communicate freely and earnestly the comfort of spiritual intercourse to others who have been in the furnace of affliction. Give me wisdom to know the fitting time for offering the word of counsel, which thou Lord Jesus mayest please to employ to the building up of those to whom I speak it. Strengthen me with might in the inner man, to be able more perfectly to realize thy presence in thy church, and to look forward with more assured hope for the time, when this vile body shall be fashioned like unto Thy glorious body, according to the mighty working whereby thou art able to subdue even all things to thyself. AMEN.
The conversion of Cornelius.
PLACE.-Cæsarea and Joppa.
TIME.-Spring, A.D. 41.
May God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, give me the Holy Spirit, that I may understand this portion of His Holy Word, and profit by it. AMEN.
ACTs, chap. X.
There was a certain man in Cæsarea called Cornelius, a centurion of 2 the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to 3 God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Corne4 lius." And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said unto him, "Thy prayers and thine alms are 5 come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and 6 call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou 7 oughtest to do." And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his houshold servants, and a devout soldier of 8 them that waited on him continually; and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.
9 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: 10 and he became very hungry, and would have eaten but while they 11 made ready, he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four 12 corners, and let down to the earth: wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and 13 fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, "Rise, Peter, kill and 14 eat." But Peter said, "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing 15 that is common or unclean." And the voice spake unto him again the'
second time, "What God, hath cleansed, that call not thou common.' 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven, 17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen
should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made 18 enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. 19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, "Behold, 20 three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with