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whom this miracle of


Reflections on the examination of the trvo apostles. 543 22 For the man was for that which was done : And indeed they well sect. above forty years old on might be affected with it, for the man on whom healing was shewed, this miracle of healing was wrought, was more

than forty years old : so that hardly any thing iy. 22.
could have appeared to human judgment to be
a more desperate case, than so inveterate and
confirmed a lameness; and yet he was (as we
have already related) in one moment complete-
ly cured by the word of the apostles, and the
power of their divine master operating with it.


We see, in the instance before us, the natural but detestable Ver. effects of a proud, bigotted, overbearing temper, even where it 1--3 seems least excusable. The Sadducees themselves, though they believed no future state of retribution, yet persecuted the apostles as eagerly, as if they, like some other Jews, had expected to merit heaven by their severity to them. (Compare John xvi. 2.)

On the other side, it is delightful to observe the zeal and courage, 10, 11 with which Peter and John defended the cause of their crucified Redeemer, even in the presence of those by whom he had so Jately been condemned. Thus can God give power to the feeble, and increase the strength of them that have no might. (Isa. xl. 29.) The testimony they bore is well worth our regarding. There is salvation in no other, neither is there any other name under heaven i 2 given among men, whereby we must be saved, () that the ends of the earth might hear and reverence that name! () that thousands, to whom it is yet unknown, may learn to build all their hopes of salvaзоп upon

and may we never be ashamed to own it, never afraid tı adhere to it! May we speak of it with such a savour, may we defend it with such a zeal, that they who are round about us may 13 take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus, and trace the genune effects of our intimate acquaintance with him!

Never was there an instance of a more memorable combat between be force of evidence and of prejudice; never a more impudent attempt to bear down the cause of unquestionable truth by bruta violence. But great is the truth, and it will prevail. 16--18 May the ministers of the gospel never want that courage in the defence of t which these holy men expressed; always judging it infinitely me reasonable, more safe, and more necessary, to obey 19 God than maw Never may we be ashamed to profess our reverence and love to hir, who is our supreme ruler, and our most bountiful friend; and say he give us such an inward and heart-influencing sense of the orth and sweetness of his gospel, as may effectually prevent our beraying or neglecting it!




All the disciples unite in an inspired prayer to God.


Peter and John return to their company, and having told them what

had passed, they all unite in an inspired prayer, which is attended with a renewed effusion of the Spirit, in consequence of which they all preach the gospel with new vigour and wonderful success ; the number of converts, and the sales of estates, are greatly in. creased. Acts IV. 23–35.

God which hast made


Acts IV. 23.

Acts IV. 23. ix. PETER and John being dismissed from their AD being let go,

examination by the Sanhi drin, with a strict own company, and reActs charge that they should preach no more in the ported all inat the chief IV. 23. name of Jesus, no sooner were at liberty but priests and elders had

said unto them.
they came to their own company, and related all
that the chief priests and elders had said to them,

and how severely they had threatened them,
24 And when they heard it, a divine inspiration

2+ And when they

heard that, they liit came upon all that were present in an extraor

up their voice to God dinary manner, so that they immediately lifted with one accord, and up their voice with one accord to God a in the fol- said, Lord, thou art lowing prayer,

this occasion

heaven and earth, and
suggested by the Holy Spirit to every one in the the sea, and all that is
assembly; and they said, O) thou supreme Lord them is :
of universal nature, we humbly acknowledge
thou art the God who didst make heaven and earth,

and the sea, and all things that are in them : 25 Who didst by thine Holy Spirit say by the mouth 25 Who by the

mouth of thy servant of thy servant David, (Psal. ii. 1, 2.)

Why did David hast said, Why the heathen nations rage, and the people imagine did the Heathen rage, vain things, forming projects which must cer- and the people ima

tainly end in their own disappointment and gine vain things? 26 ruin? Why did the kings of the earth enter 26 The kings ofthe into a confederacy to set themselves as it were earth stood up, an the

rulers were gavered in bostile array, and why were the rulers of it,

together againt the forgetting their mutual differences, combined Lord, and aginst his together in one association against the Lord, Christ. and against his Messiah, whom he hath anoint


a When they heard (il] they immediately therefore probable, that I their voices lifted up their voice, &c.] It is strange any might join by immediate insiratioil; which should have imagined, this was a preconeposed seems a circumstance grac-usly adapted for form, since, besices all the other absurdities the encouragement of thet all to suffer the of such a supposition, it so expressly refers greatest extremities in ais cause, and anto the threatenings of the Sanhedrim, ( ver. swers the phrase here usd much better, than 29) of which they had been but just then if we were to supposene only to have spoinformed: and the words axxusaviesoladolece ken, and the rest to save put their cordial δον ηραν φωνης will not allow us to imagine amen to it; which «t would be a much any interval, between the report of Peter more tolerable accant of the matter, than and John, and this prayer. I conclude it that which I first ventioncd.

b Hare



Their prayer is attended with a new effusion of the Spirit. 545 27 For of a truth ed to be the great ruler of all ?” We, () God, sect. against thy Holy Child have now seen the literal accomplishinent of Jesus, whom thou bast anointed, both Herod these words; for of a truth here has been a and Pontius Pilate with most audacious conspiracy in this city of Jeru- IV. 27. the Gentiles and the salen, where we now are, against thee, and people of Israel, were gathered together,

against thine holy child Jesus, whom thou hast
so visibly anointed with the Holy Ghost and
with power, to accomplish the glorious work
of erecting thy kingdom among men; and both
Herod the tetrarch, and Pontius Pilate the Ro-
man governor, with the heathen, and the

people of Israel, have combined in the impious attempt : 28 For to do what. But it is our unspeakable comfort to think, that 28 thy counsel determin- by their utmost rage they cannot break in uped before to be done. on thy schemes, or prevent the efficacy of any

of thy purposes; for we know that in the midst
of all this impions fury they have shewn against
thy Son, they have only been able to do what
thine hand bad pointed out before, and what
thy unerring counsel, to which all future events
are obvious, had before determined, that for

wise reasons thou wouldst permit to be done". 29. And now, Lord, And as to what now remains to accomplish this 29 ings: and grant unto important scheme of raising thy church on the thy servants, that with sure foundation of bis cross, we beseech thee, all boldness they may () Lord, to regard these their baughty threaten. speak thy word,

ings, with wbich they are endeavouring to dis-
courage the chosen witnesses of his resurrection ;
and to give unto these thy servants, and to all
others that are to join their testimony, to speak
thy word with all freedom and resolutioné, in
the midst of the most violent opposition that can


> Have combined to do, Soc. ] Limborch counsel are said to have determined these ( Theolog. lib. ii. cap. 30, $ 17) contends things, it may signify God's having poin'ed strongly for a transposition of the words out this great event so wisely concerted in thus : “They have combined against thine bis eternal counsels, and marked beforehand Holy Child Jesus, whom thou hast anoint as it were all the boundaries of it (as the ed to do what thme band and thy counsel word acowpoes may well sigvisy,) in the had determined, &c.” But this iransposi- prophetic writings. This seems more nation is arbitrary; and it is so expressiy tural, iban to suppose, (as Bishop Pearson said elsewhere by Luke, when he was en and Dr. Hammond do,) that it alludes to tering ou bis sufferings, that the Son of mıın the designation of the Lord's goat on the day went as it was determined concerning him, of expiation, which was by lifting up the (Luke xxii. 22,) and it so plainly appears lot on bigh, and then laying it on the head in fact, that these circumstances were er

of the animal to be sacrificed. See Pears. pressly determined or marked out in the pro on the Creed, p. 185, and Hamm. in loc. phecies of the Old Testament, that I see not Gire unto thy servants to speak thy word what end the admission of such a transposi- with all freedom.] Elsner has shown here, tion would answer. It is much more ra. by some very happy quotations, that several tional (as we observed in note i on that of the Heathens acknowledged the [vieztext an Luke, p. 287,) to explain this de. Encoc] freedom of speech on great and pressing termination in such a manner, as to make occasions, to be a divine gift. Compare it consistent with the free agency of the per- Prov. xvi. I. sons concerned. When God's hand and his

d Then


forth thine hand to


546 They sell their estates, and have all things in common, sact. arise: Especially whilst thou art animating 30 By stretching

them by the performance of such works of power heal, and that signs

and mercy, and art stretching out thine own al- and wonders may be IV.30. mighty hand for healing the most incurable dis. done by the name of

tempers; and while such astonishing signs and thy Holy Child Jesus..
wonders as these are done by the name of thine
holy child Jesus; which we hope thou wilt still
continue to perform, however the rage of the

enemy may be excited by them. 31 And while they were thus praying, God was 31 And when they

pleased miraculously to declare his gracious ac- had prayed, the place
ceptance of their petitions: for the place in which they were assembled
they were assembled was shaken, as the upper room together; and they
bad been on the day of Pentecost, (Acts ii. 2.) were all filled with
and they were all filled with the IIoly Spiritd: they spake the word of
And being animated by that strong impulse, God with boldness.
which through his operation they felt upon their
hearts, they spake the word of God wherever they
came with all courageous freedom, and renewed
their public testimony without any appearance
of fear, on the very day on which they had been
so solemnly forbidden by the Sanhedrim to

preach any more in the name of Jesus.
32 And that sacred agent wrought upon their

32 And the mula souls not only as the spirit of zeal and courage, believed, were of one but of love, so that the very heart and soul of heart and of one soul : the wbole multitude of believers, numerous as neither • said any of thev were, was all one : Nor did any one sof

them, that ought of the

things which he posthem] call any of his possessions his own ; but all sessed

, was his own, things were common amongst them', and each but they had all things was as welcome to participate of them as the common. original proprietor could be, being in these new

bonds of Christian fellowship as dear to him as 33 himself. And with great power, that is, with

33 And with great a divine force of eloquence and of miracles, ties witness of the redid the apostles give forth their important testi- surrection of the Lord mony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and Jesus : and great grace great grace was upon them all', so that the was upon them all. energy and sweetness of the gospel was felt by the inward experience both of speakers and hearers, beyond what it was possible for words to express.


titude of them that

d They were all filled with the Holy the most intimate and endearing friendship, Spirit.] I will not assert, that cloven longues as Elsner and others have shewn. fell upon them again; but I think it pro Great grace toas upon them all.] Casaubable, with Dr. Benson, that some visible bon, Grotius, and some others, understand symbol of the Spirits' descent might now be this of the favour they had among the people given.

on account of their charity and good cone All things were common amongst them.] duct: But this is by no means the natura! See potci on chap. ii. 44. p. 524. Tohave one import of this phrase, which is very different heart and soul is a proverbial expression for from that used, Acts ii. 47. Sect. viii.p. 325.



Reflections on the character of the primitive Christians. 517 34 Neither was there Neither was there any one indigent person any among them that

ix. lacked: for as many among them, though many of them were far from as were possessors of their habitations, and many others in low cirlands, or houscs, sold cumstances of life: for as many as were proprie- IV. 54. them and brought the tors of lands or houses, sold them as fast as they prices of the things that were sold,

could find any to purchase them, and brought

the price of the things they had sold, whether it
35 And laid them were more or less, And laid [it] down at 35
down at the apostles' the feet of the apostles, to be disposed of as they
was made unto every should direct; who discharged their trust with
man according as he the strictest fidelity, and took care that distribu-
had nced.

tion was made to every one according as any had
need for his present relief : (Compare chap. ii.
45:). The apostles esteeming themselves suiti.
ciently happy, while living in the same plain
manner with their brethren, in the opportunity
which the divine goodness gave them of being
so helpful to others both in temporals and spi.


This was indeed the golden age of the church; and it is impossible to trace the memoirs of it, if we love Sion, without a secret Ver, complacency and exultation of mind. How amiable and how 13 venerable do the apostles and primitive converts appear, in this native simplicity of the Christian character ! and what a glory did the grace, and Spirit of God put upon them, far beyond all that human establishments, splendid dignities, or ample revenues, could ever give to those that have succeeded them! While the multitude of them had one heart and one soul, and each was ready to impart to his brethren whatever he himself possessed, how bigh 32 a relish of pleasure did they receive, and how were their joys multiplied by each of their number!

Thus does divine grace, when it powerfully enters into the heart, open it in sentiments of generosity and love. Thus does it conquer 33--55 that selfish temper which reigns so frequently in the minds of sinful men, and makes them like wild beasts, rather than like brethren to each other. Providence does not indeed call us entirely to give up our possessions, or to introduce a community of goods among Christians, in circumstances so different from those which we have now been surveying. Yet surely it is always our duty, and will be our highest interest, to remember that we are not original proprietors of what we possess, but stewards, who are to manage what is intrusted to our care, for the honour of our great Master, and the good of his family here on earth ; continually ready to resign any part or even the whole of it, whenever these important ends shall require such a resignation. Vol. VII. 3 Z


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