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Moses himself. To this prophet God required them to pay attention, in everything that he might say to them; adding that he would call each one to account, who should refuse to follow the teaching of that prophet, and would cut such a one off from the people of the Lord. (Deut. xviii. 15, 18, 19.) Not Moses alone however, but all the prophets from Samuel downwards, every one that has written by inspiration from God, has foretold of the times that were then opening. The Jews to whom Peter was speaking were brought up in the instruction given by those divine prophets, and were all admitted into the covenant which God had made with their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In the very beginning of that covenant, God had spoken beforehand of these things to Abraham, when he said-" and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." (Gen. xxii. 18. Gal. iii. 16.) Before however God completes the blessing thus promised, he had raised up His Son, and sent him to begin a spiritual blessing among them, which received into the heart, must turn every one of them away from following their iniquities.
While the apostles were thus instructing the people, they were interrupted by the captain of the guard usually placed by the Roman governor under the directions of the chief priests, for the purpose of keeping order amongst the crowds who frequented the temple at the seasons of the great festivals. (Matt. xxvii. 65.) This officer was called in by the priests, and especially by the Sadducees; whose indignation was excited by the apostles teaching the people, and proclaiming the doctrine of the resurrection, which they so strongly opposed and hated. By the authority of the priests, and the power of the officer, Peter and John were apprehended; and as it was late in the afternoon, they kept them in confinement all night, in order to bring them before the Jewish magistrates in the morning. But the result of the preaching proved, that "the word of God was not bound" (2 Tim. ii. 9); for, in spite of the violence with which Peter's sermon had been interrupted, a great many of those who had heard it, received the word with faith; so that upon this occasion, the number of the believers in Christ Jesus was made up to about five thousand..
1. The miracle which is the subject of this portion, may well have been matter of great joy to the disciples then, as it may also be to the christians of every generation since. It was the first evidence that, though the person of Christ was gone into heaven, yet that the power of Christ remained still with his people on earth, as he had promised (John xiv. 18) and it was a lively token of the truth, that the disciples of the Lord Jesus might expect to be able to do even mightier works than he himself had done on earth, because he had gone to the Father. (John xiv. 12.) It was the name of Jesus, by which through faith this man was healed and so every true christian, in remembering the time when he was enabled to begin a christian walk and conversation, will thankfully feel and acknowledge, that it was faith in the name of Jesus, which enabled him, though born in sin and a child of wrath, to praise God as one walking in His ways. And he feels that, though the spiritual miracle has not yet given him a perfect soundness before God and the church, yet he may trust that He who hath begun a good work in him, will continue it until the day of Christ (Phil. i. 6); and he will be strengthened in every effort towards attaining this end, by applying for the power of the same name, working through the same
Am I fully convinced that I was born incapable of a christian walk? and am I now manifesting that through my faith in the name of Jesus I am strengthened to walk in his way, giving him praise for this, not only with my lips, but in my life?
2. The appeal of Peter to the consciences of his hearers was searching and faithful. It did not shrink from charging them plainly and powerfully with sin, though it tenderly suggested the occasion of their sin-ignorance as to the full meaning of what they were about. His suggestion however did not take the form of justifying their offence, nor even of excusing it; it only shewed them, how their ignorance had opened the way for repentance in their hearts-" repent ye therefore and be converted," because
God has taken the occasion of your ignorance to make the atonement for your sins. The apostle's address applies to us as well as to them,-be turned from sin, because it produced the death of Christ; and in spite of that precious death, it must produce the destruction of the sinner's soul, unless it be given up.
When my conscience is convinced of sin, do I excuse myself on account of ignorance? or do I make past ignorance the occasion of stirring me up to greater diligence in acting upon present knowledge?
3. The times mentioned in this portion are characterized in two ways-the times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, and the times of the restitution of all things. It is a glorious anticipation for those who are wearied with the heat and burden of the journey of life through this sinful world, that a breathing-time lies before them, in which their refreshment shall flow from the visible presence of the Lord Jesus; and it is a blessed accompaniment of such a hope, that all things will then be restored to the condition. which will correspond with the good purpose of God in making the world at the beginning. Such a prospect might well excite our earnest endeavours to cast aside every weight, and to run with patience the race set before us, looking unto Jesus now, in order that we may have the joy of looking at him hereafter. But the statement of the apostle is also connected with the application of that fearful threat, in which God declared, that he who will not hear Christ now shall be cut off from the people of the Lord. How foolish must it be to look forward to the glorious times with a false hope! how terrible to live in the anticipation of the times of refreshing, and yet to find that time to be only the opening of the period during which the worm never dies, and the fire is not quenched; because we heeded not the word of that prophet" whose presence is salvation, and the fulness of joy." (Psa. xlii. 5; xvi. 11.)
Do I habitually attend to the word of Christ, in order that I may be a partaker of the refreshment from his presence, in the times of the restitution of all things?
4. The opposition which the truth as it is in Jesus continually receives from various characters, is usually excited when that portion of the truth is drawn forth, which proves the falsehood of the particular doctrine to which the prejudices of the individual have pledged him. The pride of the priests could not bear that Peter should teach the people; while the infidel Sadducees were roused at the doctrine of the resurrection: this shews the danger of committing ourselves to decided opinions, not based upon the word of truth; while it should make us very cautious in examining our motives for resisting the opinions of others.
Am I violently opposed to any doctrine which is stated to be grounded on the word of God? and what is the cause of my violence?
Gracious and holy God, whose power is able, and whose love is willing, to heal the diseases of man's soul; I acknowledge my natural incapacity to walk in thy way; but I look unto thee, O Jesus, and ask for faith in thy name, that the power of that name may make me whole in following the path of obedience, and active in employing my powers to thy praise. I have sinned, and done evil in thy sight;-much evil that I have known, and much that I have not known. Give me true repentance, and forgive me all my sins, negligences, and ignorances; that my iniquities may not rise up against me, to prevent my partaking of the glorious refreshing from thy presence, O Lord, in the times of restitution of all things. Give me an ear to hear, and a heart to heed, the words of thy beloved Son; and let not the prejudices of an evil heart ever make me resist the voice of that blessed Saviour. AMEN.
Peter and John before the council.
TIME.-About A.D. 31.
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. IV. verses 5 to 35.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and 6 scribes, and Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were 7 gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done 8 this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, "Ye 9 rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made 10 whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by
the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you 11 whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which 12 is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any
other for there is none other name under heaven given among men, 13 whereby we must be saved." 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 14 with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with 15 them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had com
manded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among 16 themselves, saying, "What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a
notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that 17 dwell in Jerusalem ; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak 18 henceforth to no man in this name." And they called them, and com19 manded 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. 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 22 glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.