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X.

a

Acts

Reflections on the case of Ananias and Sapphira.

553 dangerous it would be to oppose or suppress SECT. the inward convictions of their minds, in

matter of so great importance. 15 Insomuch that And they were farther animated to boldness V. 15, they brought forth the in their profession, by the many gracious miraand laid them on beds cles which succeeded to this work of terror ; and conches, that at insomuch that all along the most public streets Peter passing by might they brought out the sick, and laid them at their overshadow some of doors on beds and couches, when they were not them.

able to walk ; that at least the shadow of Peter
as he was coming by, might overshadow some or
other of them: And this extraordinary faith was
rewarded by the healing of many in that cir-

cumstance. 16 There came also And as the fame of these wonderful works 16 a multitude out of the cities round about unto

spread abroad, multitudes also (out] of the cities
Jerusalem, bringing round about, came together to Jerusalem, bringing
sick folks, and them the sick and those that were troubled with unclean
which
with unclean spirits: spirits ; who, by the divine power of Jesus
and tbey were healed working in his bumble disciples, were all heal-
every one,

ed; as persons in the like circumstances bad
often been by Christ himself in the days of his
flesh. So that the alarm which this gave to the
enemies of the gospel, grew continually more
and more painful to them, and occasioned some
remarkable proceedings against the apostles,
which will be related in the following section.

were

IMPROVEMENT.

Let us behold, with humble reverence, this awful instance of Ver. the divine severity, so well calculated to impress the minds of 5, 15 these new concerts, and to prevent any of those frauds, which the charity of those who were most zealous in their profession might have occasioned in some others. Let us learn, how hateful false- 4 hood is to the God of truth, and make it our care to avoid it; and not only shun a direct lye, but the taking undue advantage from any ambiguities of expression, and, in a word, all recourse to the arts of equivocation. God only knows, how soon such treacherous 5, 10 lips may be sealed up in eternal silence.

How does Satan delude the heart which he fills! And how pe-3 culiarly fatal is the delusion, when he leads men to sins, which especially affront the Holy Spirit of God: That Spirit rested on the 9 Apostles, and taught them to discover the hidden things of darkness; so that they who tempted it, fell in the attempt, and became a sign. May integrity and uprightness ever preserve us! (Psal. xxv. 21.) And, while we avoid all the kinds and arts of dissimulation, let us peculiarly detest those, which would offer a double insult to

the

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130

554 The hig'h-priest and the Sadducees imprison the apostles.
SECT. the God of heaven, by taking their dress from the religion, which

bis own Son has planted.
Ver. The church is never happier, than when the sons of falsehood are

deterred from intruding into it. If its members are less numerous,

it is a sofficient balance, that it is more pure. We see what sin15, 16 gular miracles were done by the apostles; miracles equal, and in

some respects, as it seems by these instances, superior to those
which Christ performed in the days of his ministration here below.
When will the happy time come, in which men shall express as
great a concern for their souls, as they here did for their bodies ?
When shall the streets and assemblies be filled with those who,
from a sense of their spiritual maladies, shall apply to the ministers
of Christ for healing ? Let it always be remembered, that what-
ever they do for this happy purpose, it is indeed their master that
does it by them; and that all their most assiduous applications, se-
parare from his blessing, can effect no more than t'e shadow of
Peter could have done, if the power of Christ had not wrought on
those over whom it passed,

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SECT.

xi.

The apostles continuing to preach to the people, are apprehended and

imprisoned, and, after a miraculous deliverance, are brought be-
fore the Sanhedrim the next day, and scourged; Gamaliel's advice
prevailing, to prevent any farther extremities. Acts v. 17, to
the end.
Acts V. 17.

Acts V. 17.
IT T was observed in the preceding section, what THEN the high-priest

extraordinary miracles were done by the that were with him,
apostles in the name of Jesus, whom still, not- (which is the
withstanding all the menaces of their rulers, the Sadducees,) and

were filled with indig-
they continued faithfully to preach, and to as-

nation;
sure the people of his resurrection from the
dead, and of eternal life to be obtained through
him. But this, as it might reasonably be ex-
pected, drew another storm upon them : For
the high-priest arising, as it were with awaken-
ed and renewed fury, and all they that were with
him, which was the sect of the Sadducees, who

of

Acts V. 17.

were

a The sect of the Sadducees.] There is at Boyle's Lect. chap. v. § 4, p. 110, 111.)
no sufficient reason from this text to con The Sadducees however would be most
clude with Grotius, that the high-priests ready to exert themselves in persccuting
and his kindred were Sadducees, though it the apostles, as they were most exaspcrated
is probable they might be so, as Josephus by their doctrine, which was directly op-
affirms that some of the high-priests were posite to the notions they maintained.
of this sect, and particularly Ananus, one See the paraphrase on Acts iv. 2, sect. 8,
of the sons of that Annas, who was fa- p. 537.
ther-in-law to Caiapbas. (See Mr. Biscoe,

b Indo

xi.

were

An angel lets them out, to go and preach in the temple.

555 were especially devoted to his interest, and most sect. offended at the doctrine of the resurrection, were filled with zeal and indignation against Acts these men, who, as their enemies affected to v. 17. represent it, made so dangerous an attack both

on their religious and political establishment : 18 And laid their And in support of these unjust charges, they 13 hands on the apostles,

determined to bring them to another trial and put them in the

before the Sanhedrim, and for that purpose common prison.

laid their hands on the apostles, and put them into
the common prison, where the vilest of malefac-

tors were lodged b.
19 But the angel But that God might evidently shew, how im-19
of the Lord by night potent all their rage was against those whom he
opened
doors, and brought determined to support, and that they might be
them forth, and said, emboldened with a becoming confidence to bear

their testimony in the midst of oppositions and
dangers, an angel of the Lord was sent to them,
who, appearing in the midst of them by night
opened the doors of the prison, and without giving
any

alarm to the keepers, or any of the other

prisoners, bringing them out of that place of
20 Go, stand and confinement, said, as God hath thus miracu- 20
to the people, all the lously interposed for your deliverance, neither
words of this life. flee, not fear; but go, as soon as the gates are

opened, and presenting yourselves boldly in the
temple, as you did before you were seized,
(however disagreeable the doctrine that you
preach may be to those who believe nothing of
a future state,) speak to the people assembled there
at the hour of morning sacritice all the words of
this glorious gospel with which you are charged,
on which the eternal life of men so evidently
depends, and by which alone their final happi-

ness can be secured.
21 And when they And the apostles hearing [this] divine com- 21
hcard that, they en-
tered into the temple mand, made no scruple immediately to obey it,
early in the morning, and were so far from being discouraged by the
and taught fear of persecution, that with an earnest zeal

to carry on the work they were engaged in,
they went very early into the temple, and taught
the people with the same freedom as before,
who assembled there to pay their morning ado-
rations unto God.

But

b Into the common prison.] That this was the apostles were actually thrust among as the paraphrase expresses it, the place them; and I think ver. 23 makes it rawhere the vilest malefactors were lodged, ther more probable, they were in an apart. cannot be doubted. But it is not certain, ment by themsetres, VOL. VII.

4 A

the

SECT. xi.

that were

Acts

29 But when the

Came,

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556

The council are surprised not to find them in prison.
But in the mean time, the high-pricst being - But high-

priest Came, and they come, and they that were with him, into the room

with him, where the council was usually beld, they called and called the council V. 21. together all the members of the Sanhedrim, even together, and all the

the childrca (as we have hinted several times betöre, that the senate

of Israel, and sent to name signifies,) the whole senate of the children of the prison to have them Israel, being solicitous that there might be as brought. full a house as possible on so important an oue casion : And when they were convened, they sent proper officers to the cominon prison to take charge of the apostles, and to have them brought into their presence, that the court might pro

ceed to their examination and punishment. 22 But when the officers came thither, to their great

and surprise they found them not in the prison; and officers

found then not in the yet could not discover what way they had took prison, they returned to make their escape, cons:dering the circum- and wid, stances that appeared on inquiry. Returning

therefore to the council, they made their report,
23 saying. We found indeed the prison shut with 23 Saying, The pri-

all possible safety, and the keepers stunding with son truly found
out as cenuinels before the doors; but having and the keepers stand-
opened [them,) and gone into the place in which ing without before the
the prisoners had been put, and 'where we did doors: but when we

had opened, we found not doubt but we should find them, to our great no man within. astonishment we found no one within of those

whom we sought.
24 Now when the high priest, and the captain 24 Now when the

of the temple, and the other chief-priests who high-priest, and the
were gathered trgether, heard these words, they and the chici-priests
doubted concerning them, and knew not what to heard these
think of it bow this could be; that is, whether they doubted of them

whereunto this would
they had procured their liberty by corrupting grow.
the keepers, or whether there might not be
something miraculous in the deliverance of per-

sons whom such extraordinary circumstances 25 had attended. But one, who knew their disap 25 Then came one pointment and the uneasiness it gave them, came

and told them, saying,

Behold, the men whom into the court, and told them, saying, Behold, ye put in prison, sre the men whom ye put yesterday in prison, are standing in the temple, now standing in the temple, however they canne

and teaching the peou thither, and are teaching the people assembled there with as much freedom and confidence as ever; which indeed does not look like a clandestine escape, which could only bave been

made with a view of fight and concealment. 26 Then the captain of the temple went with the 26 Then went the

officers by the direction of the Sanhedrim, and captain with the offihaving found the apostles in the temple, brought cers, and brought them

without violence: (for them away, but not by violence, for they feared

they the

things,

ple.

XI.

not

tcach

in

this

They are taken again, and brought before the Sanhedrim. 557 they feared the people, the people, lest if they had offered any violence sect. Jest they should have in thuir presence, it might have so provoked been stoned.)

them that they should be stoned : For the people Acts
were so fully persuaded of a divine power en- V. 26.
gaged with the apostles, that they held their
persons sacred, and would not bare borne any
open attack upon them: The apostles, on the
other hand, were ready cheerfully to obey the

summons, that they niiglit repeat their testi.
27 And when they mouy to their divine Master. And accordingly 27
bad brought them, they, the captain and those that attended him, zehen
council: And the high- they had brought them to the place where the
priestasked them, council was sitiing, made a report of what they

bad done, and set them before the Sanhedrin.
And as soon as they appeared, the high priest,

singling out Peter and John, who had so lately 28 Saying, Did not

been examined before them, asked them, Say- 23 we strictly command ing, Did we not strictly charge you two in partiyou, that you sbuild cular but a very little while ago, and so in effect name? And betoli ye

all the rest of your company, that you should not,
have filled Jerusalem on pain of our highest displeasure and the ut-
with your doctrine: most rigour of the law, teach any more in this
and intend to bring this
man's blood upon us.

name of Jesus of Nazareth ? And behold, instead
of regarding our admonition, or shewing any
sense of the great lenity with which the court
then treated you, you have been more busy and
more daring than before in your seditious prac-
tices, so that you have filled Jerusalem with your
doctrine; and it all centres in this, that you
would bring the odium of this man's blood upon
us, and would incense the populace against us,
as if he were an innocent person whom we had
murdered : So that it is no thanks to you, if
we are not stoned, or torn in pieces by them,
for that act of necessary justice, for such it was,
which we were obliged to do upon

bim.
99 Then Peter and But Peter and the rest of ] the apostles, who 29
the other apostle's an-

were now all before them, answered and said ()
swered and said, We
ought to obey God ra. ye senate of Israel, ye cannot but in your own
ther than mcn. consciences kvoiv, as we plainly declared before

this assembly when we received the charge now
referred to, (chap. iv. 19) that it is absolutely

fit

« They feared the people, lest they should temporal d liverance by their means, (combe stoned.] This may seem a surprising parc Acis i. 6) of which they were so exchunia in the people, considering the ei ceeding fond, aod a disappointment in gerness with which they demanded that their hope of which had turned their hosan. Christ should be crucified. But it is exceed- nahs inə the cry, Crucify him, crucify him. ing probable, that, seeing the mighty See Mr. Lardner's Credibility, Vol. 1. p. power which wrought in the apostles, they 179. might entertain some hope of obtaining

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