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AN /<<'>''■" "'"'■^ 

EXPOSITION ' JAN 101912 



OF THE 



Old and New Testament: 



WHEREIN 

EACH CHAPTER IS SUMMED UP IN ITS CONTENTS ; THE SACRED TEXT INSERTED 

AT LARGE, IN DISTINCT PARAGRAPHS ; EACH PARAGRAPH REDUCED 

TO ITS PROPER HEADS ; THE SENSE GIVEN, 

AND LARGELY ILLUSTRATED ; 

WITH 

PRACTICAL REMARKS AND OBSERVATIONS: 



BY MATTHEW HENRY, 

LATK MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL. 



A JXUVr EDITION: 

EDITED BT 

THE REV. GEORGE BURDER, AND THE REV. JOSEPH HUGHES, A. M. 

WITH THE 

lilFE OF THE AUTHOR, 

BT THE 

BET. SAMUEL PALMER* 



VOL. VL 



PHILADELPHIA: ;■ 
ED. BARRINGTON & GEO. D. HASWELL, 

MARKET STREET. 



AH 



EXPOSITION, 



WITH 



PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS, 



ON THE 



REMAINING BOOKS 



OP THB 



NEW TESTAMENT; 



NAMELY, 



THE ACTS OF THE 

APOSTLES, 
ROMANS, 
T. CORINTHIANS, 
II. CORINTHIANS, 
GALATIANS, 
EPHESIANS, 
PHILIPPIANS, 
COLOSSIANS, 

I. THESSALONIANS, 

II. THESSALONIANS, 
I. TIMOTHY, 



II. TIMOTHY, 

TITUS, 

PHILEMON, 

HEBREWS, 

JAMES, 

I. PETER, 

II. PETER, 
L JOHN, 
II. JOHN, 
ill. JOHN, 

JUDE, AND THB 

REVELATION. 



AN 



EXPOSITION, 



WITH 



PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS, 



OF THE 



ACTS OF THE APOSTLES. 



We have with an abundant satisfaction seen the foundation of our holy religion laid in the history of cur 
blessed Saviour, its great Author, which was related and left upon record by four several inspired 
writers, who all agree in this sacred truth, and the incontestable proofs of it. That Jesus is the Christ, 
the Son of the liuing God, Ufion this rock the christian church is built ; ahd how it began to be built 
upon this rock, comes next to be related in this book which we have now before us. Of this we ha\ e 
the testimony only of one witness ; for the matters of fact concerning Christ, were much more necessaiy 
to be fully related and attested than those concerning the apostles. Had Infinite Wisdom seen fit, we 
might have had as many books of the Acts of the Apostles as we have Gospels, nay, as we might have 
had Gospels ; but, for fear of overburthening the world, (John 21. 25.) we have sufficient to answer the 
end, if we will but make use of it. 
The history of this book (which was always received as a part of the sacred canon) may be considered, 
I. As lookmg back to the preceding gospels, giving light to them, and greatly assisting our faith in them. 
The promises there made, we here find made good ; particularly the great promise of the descent of the 
Holy Ghost, and his wonderful operations, both on the apostles, (whom here in a few days we find quite 
other men than what the gospels left them ; no longer weak-headed and weak-hearted, but able to say that 
which then they were not able to bear, (John 16. 12. ) and bold as lions to face thosehardships Avhich then 
as lambs they trembled at the thought of,) and also with the apostles, making the word mighty to the 
/lulling doivn of Satan's strong holds, which had been before comparatively preached in vain. The 
commission there granted to the apostles we here find executed, and the powers there lodged in them 
exerted in miracles wrought on the bodies of people — miracles of mercy, restoring sick bodies to health, 
and dead bodies to life — miracles of judgment, striking rebels blind or dead ; and much greater miracles 
wrought on the minds of people, in conferring spiritual gifts upon them, both of understanding and ut- 
terance ; and this in pursuance of Christ's purposes, and in performance of his promises, which we had 
in the gospels. The proofs of Christ's resurrection, which the gospels closed with, are here abundantly 
corroborated, not only by the constant and undaunted testimony of those that conversed with him after 
he rose, (who had all deserted him, and one of them denied him, and would not otherwise have been 
rallied again but by his resurrection, but must have been irretrievably dispersed, and yet by that wej-e 
enabled to own him more resolutely than ever, in defiance of bonds and deaths,) but by the working of 
the Spirit with that testimony for the conversion of multitudes to the faith of Christ, according to the 
word of Christ, that his resurrection, the sign of the prophet Jonas, which was reserved to the las% 
should be the most convincing proof of his divine mission. Christ had told his disciples that they should 
be his witnesses, and this book brings them in witnessing for him ; that they should he fishers of men, 
and here we have them enclosing multitudes in the gospel-net ; that they should be the lights of the 
world, and here we have the world enlightened by them ; but that day-spring from on high which we 
there discerned in the first appearing of, we here find shining more and more. The corn of wheat, 
which there fell to the ground, here springs up and bears much fruit ; the , grain of mustard-seed there 
is here a great tree; and the kingdom of heaven, which was then at hand, is here set up. Christ's pre- 
dictions of the virulent persecutions which the preachers of his gospel should be afflicted with (though 
one could not have imagined that a doctrine so well worthy of all acceptation should meet with so much 
opposition) we here find abundantly fulfilled, and also the assurances he gave them of extraordinary 
supports and comforts under their sufferings. Thus, as the latter part of the history of the Old Testa- 
ment verifies the promises made to the fathers in the former part, (as appears by that famous and solemn 
acknowledgment of Solomon's, which runs like a receipt in full, 1 Kings 8. 56. There has not failed 
one word of all his good promise which he promised by the hand of Moses his serr'ant,) so the latter pr.rt 
of the history of the New Testament exactly answers to the word of Christ in the former part (^f it : and 
thus they mutually confirm and illustrate each other. 
II. As looking forward to the following epistles, which are an explication of the gospels, which open tbe 
mystery of Christ's death and resun-ection, the history whereof we had in the gospels. This brnk in- 
troduces them, and is a key to them, as the history of David is to David's psalms. We are members 
of the christian church, that tabernacle of God among men, and it is our honour and privilege that we 
arc so. Now this book gives us an account of the framing and rearing of that tabernacle. The f'ur 
gospels shewed us how the foundation of that house was laid ; this shews us how the supersti-ucture be- 
gan to be raised. 1. Among the Jews and Samaritans, which we have an account cf in the former p-^i't 



6 THE ACTS. 

of this book. 2. Among the Gentiles, which we have an account of m the latter part : from thence, 
and downward to our own day, we find the christian church subsisting in a visible profession of faith in 
Christ, as the Son of God and Saviour of the world, made by his baptized disciples, incoi-porated into 
religious societies, statedly meeting in religious assemblies, attending on the apostles' doctrine, and join- 
ing in prayer and breaking of bread, under the conduct and precedency of men that gave themselves to. 
prayer and the ministry of the woi-d, and in a spiritual communion with all in every place that do like- 
wise. Such a body as this there is now in the world, which we belong to : and, to our great satisfaction 
and honour, in this book we find the rise and original of it, vastly different from the Jewish chui ch, and 
erected upon its ruins ; but undeniably appearing to be of God, and not of man. With what confidence 
and comfort ma)' we proceed in, and adhere to, our christian profession, as far as we find it agi-ees with 
this fiattern in the mount ; to which we ought religiously to conform and confine ourselves. 
Two things more are to be observed concerning this book. (1.) The penman of it. It was written by 
Luke, who wrote the third of the four gospels, which bears his name; and who (as the learned Ur. 
Whitby shews) was, very probably, one of the seventy disciples, whose commission (Luke 10. 1, &c.) 
was little inferior to that of the twelve apostles. This Luke was very much a companion of Paul in his 
services and sufferings. Only Luke is nvith me, 2 Tim. 4. 11. W'e may know by his style in the latter 
part of this book, when and where he was with him, for then he writes, We did so and so, as ch. 16. 10. 
— 20. 6. and from thenceforward to the end of the book. He was with Paul in his dangerous voyage to 
Rome, when he was carried thither a prisoner ; was with him when from his prison there he wrote his 
epistles to the Colossians and Philemon, in both which he is named. And it should seem that St. Luke 
wrote this history when he was with St. Paul at Rome, during his imprisonment there, and was assistant 
to him ; for the nistoiy concludes with St. Paul's preaching there in his own hired house. (2. ) The title 
of it ; The Acts of the Afiostles ; of the holy Apostles, so the Greek copies generally read it, and so they 
are called. Rev. 18. 20. Rejoice o^>er her, ye holy afiostles. One copy inscribes it. The Acts of the 
Afiostles by Luke the Evangelist. [1.] It is the history of the apostles ; yet here is in it the history of 
Stephen, Barnabas, and some other apostolical men, who, though not of the twelve, were indued with 
the same Spirit, and employed in the same work. And of those that were apostles, it is the history of 
Peter and Paul only that is here recorded ; (and Paul was now of the twelve ;) Peter the apostle of the 
circumcision, and Paul the apostle of the Gentiles, Gal. 2. 7. But this suffices as a specimen of what 
the rest did in other places, pursuant to their commission, for they were none of them idle. And as we 
are to think what is related in the gospels concerning Christ sufficient, because Infinite Wisdom thought 
so, the same we are to think here concerning what is related of the apostles, and their labours ; for what 
more is told us from tradition of the labours and sufferings of the apostles, and the churches they planted, 
is altogether doubtful and uncertain, and what I think we cannot build upon with any satisfaction at all ; 
this is gold, silver, and firecious stones, built upon \hQ foundation ; that is wood, hay, and stubble. [2.] 
It is called their acM, or rfom^s. Gesta afiostolorum. So some. n{a|Hc — their practices of the lessons 
their Master had taught them. The apostles were active men ; and though the wonders they did were 
by the word, yet they are fitly called their acts; they spake, or rather the Spirit by them sfiake, and it 
was done. The history is filled with their sermons and their sufferings ; yet so much did they labour in 
their preaching, and so voluntarily did they expose themselves to sufferings, and such were their 
achievements by both, that they may very well be called their acts. 



THE ACTS, I. 



CHAP. I. 

The inspired historian be^ns his narrative of the Acts of the 
Apostles, I. With a refference to, and a brief recapitula- 
tion of, his gospel, or history of the life of Christ, inscri- 
bing this, as lie liud done that, to his friend Theophilus, v. 
1, 2. II. With a summary of the proofs of Christ's resur- 
rection, his conference with his disciples, and the instruc- 
tions he gave thenn during the forty days of his continuance 
on earth, t. 2 . . 5. III. With a particular narrative of 
Christ's ascension into heaven, his disciples' discourse with 
him before he ascended, and the angels' discourse with 
them after he was ascended, v. 6 . . 11. IV. With a pene- 
ral idea of the embryo of the christian church, and its state 
from Christ's ascension to the pouring out of Uie Spirit, v. 
12 . . 14. V. With a particular account of the filling up of 
the vacancy that was made in the sacred collepe by the 
death of Judas, bv the electinj? of Matthias in nis room, 
V. 15..26. 

THE former treatise have I made, O 
Theophilus, of all that Jesus be- 
^an both to do and teach, 2. Until the day 
in which he was taken up, after that he 
throiiiih the Holy Ghost had given com- 
mandments unto the apostles whom he 
had chosen : .3. To whom also he shewed 
himself alive; after his passion iiy many in- 
fallible proofs, being seen of them forty 



days, and speaking of the things pertain- 
ing to the kingdom of God : 4. And, be- 
ing assembled together with Mew, com- 
manded them that they should not depart 
from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise 
of the Father, which, mith he, ye have 
heard of me. 5. For John truly baptized 
with water ; but ye shall be baptized with 
the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 

In these verses, 

I. Theophilus is put in mind, and we in him, of 
St. Luke's gospel, which it will be of use for us to 
cast an eye upon before we enter upon the study of 
this book, that we may see not only how this begins 
there where that breaks off, but that, as in water 
face answers to face, so do the acts of the afiostles to 
the acts of their Master, the acts of his grace. 

1. His patron, to whom he dedicates this book, (\ 
should rather say his fiufiil, for he designs, in dech- 
cating it to him, to instruct and direct him, and not 
to crave his countenance or protection,) is, Theophi- 
lus, XK 1. In the epistle dedicatory before his gos- 
pel, he had called him most excellent Theofihilus, 
here he calls him no more than O Theofihilus, not 
that he had lost his excellency, or that it was dimi- 
nished fuid become less illustrious ; but either hr 



THE ACTS, I. 



h.id now quitted his place, whatever it was, tor the 
sake ot' which that title was given liini ; or, he was 
now grown into years, and despised such titles of 
respect more tliau he had done ; or Luke was grown 
more intimate with him, and therei'ore could address 
him with the more freedom, it was usual with the 
ancients, both christian and heathen writers, thus to 
inscribe their writings to some particular persons. 
But the directing some of the books of the scripture 
so, is an intimation to each of us to receive them as 
if directed to us in particular, to us by name ; for 
whatsoever things were written before time, were 
written for our learning. 

2. His gospel is here called the former treatise 
which he hadgfinade, which he had an eye to in wri- 
ting this, intending this for a continuation and con- 
firmation of that, Tcv ^Tjirov ^oj-ii- — the former word. 
What is written of the gospel, is the word as truly 
as what was spoken ; nay, we know no unwritten 
word that we are to give credit to, but as it agrees 
with that which is written. He made the former 
treatise, and now is divinely inspired to make this, 
for Christ's scholars must go on toward fierfection, 
Heb. 6. 1. And therefore their guides must help 
them on, must still teach the Jieofile knowledge, 
(Eccl. 12. 9.) and not think that their former la- 
bours, though ever so good, will excuse them from 
further labours ; but they should rather be quickened 
and encouraged by them, as St Luke here, who, be- 
cause he had laid the foundation in a former trea- 
tise, will build upon it in this. Let not this there- 
fore drive out that ; let not new sermons and new 
books make us forget old ones, but put us in mind 
of them, and help us to improve them. 

3. The contents of his gospel were, that, all that, 
which Jesus began both to do and teach ; and the 
same is the subject of the writings of the other three 
evangelists. Observe, (1.) Christ both did and 
taught. The doctrine he taught was confirmed by 
the miraculous works he did, which proved him a 
teacher come from God, John 3. 2. And the duties 
he taught were copied out in the holy gracious works 
he did, for he hath left us an example, and that such 
as proves him a teacher come from God too, for by 
their fruits ye shall know them. Those are the 
best ministers, that both do and teach, whose lives 
are a constant sermon. (2. ) He began both to do 
and teach ; he laid the foundation of all that was to 
be taught and done in the christian church. His 
apostles were to carry on and continue what he be- 
gan, and to do and teach the same things. Christ 
set them in, and then left them to go on, but sent his 
Spirit to empower them both to do and teach. It is 
a comfort to those who are endeavouring to carry on 
the work of the gospel, that Christ himself began 
it. The great salvation at the first began to be spo- 
ken by the Lord, Heb. 2. 3. (3.) The four evange- 
lists, and Luke particularly, have handed down to 
us all that Jesus began both to do and teach ; not 
all the particulars, the world could not have con- 
tained them ; but all the heads, samples of all, so 
many, and in such variety, that by them you may 
judge of the rest We have the beginnings of his 
doctrine, (Matt 4. 17.) and the beginnings of his 
miracles, John 2. 11. Luke had spoken, had treat- 
ed, of all Christ's sayings and doings, had given us 
a general idea of them, though he had not recorded 
each in particular. 

4. The period of the evangelical stoiy is fixed to 
the day in which he was taken u/i, v. 2. Then it 
was that he left this world, and his bodily presence 
was no more in it St. Mark's gospel concludes 
with the Lord's being received u/i into heaven, 
fMark 16. 19.) and so does St Luke's, Luke 24. 51. 
Christ continued doing and teaching to the last, till 
he was taken u/i to the other work he had to do 
within the veil. 



n. 'l"he tru h of Christ's resurrection is maintain- 
ed and evidenced, v. 3. That part of what was re- 
lated in the former treatise, was so material, that it 
was necessary to be up(»n all occasions repeated. 
The great evidence of his resurrection, was, that he 
shewed himself alive to his afiostles ; being alrvc, he 
shewed himself i>o, and he was seen of them. They 
were honest men, and one may depend upcn their 
testimony ; but the question is, whether tliey were 
not imposed upon, as many a well-meaning man is. 
No, they were not ; for, 

1. The proofs were infallible, nK/uA^nt — filain in- 
dications, both that he was alive, (he walked and 
talked with them, he ate and drank with them,) and 
that it was he himself, and not another, for he shew- 
ed them again and again the marks of the wounds in 
his hands, and feet, and side; which was the utmost 
proof the thing was capable of, or required. 

2. They were many, and often repeated ; he was 
seen by them forty days; not constantly residing with 
them, but frequently appearing to them, and bring- 
ing them by degrees to be fully satisfied concerning 
it, so that all their sorrow for his departure v/asdcne 
away by it. Christ's staying upon earth so long 
after he was entered ufion his state of exaltation and 
glory, to confirm the faith of his disciples, and com- 
fort their hearts, was such an instance of condescen- 
sion and compassion to believers, as may fully as- 
sure us, that we have a high-firiest that is touched 
with the feeling of our infirmities. 

in. A general hint given of the insti-uctions he 
furnished his discifiles with, now that he was abtmt 
to leave them. Since he breathed on them, and 
opened their understandings, they were better able 
to receive them. 

1. He instructed them concerning the work they 
were to do ; He gave commandments to the apostles 
whom he had chosen. Note, Christ's choice is al- 
ways attended with his charge. Those whom he 
elected into the apostleship, expected he should give 
them preferments, but, instead of that, he gave 
them commandments. When he took his journey, 
and gave authority to his servants, and to every one 
his work, (Mark 13. 34.) he gave them- command- 
ments through the Holy Ghost, which he was him- 
self ^^//erf with as Mediator, and which he had 
breathed into them. In giving them the Holy Ghost, 
he gave them his commandments ; {or the Comforter 
will be a commander ; and his office v/as to bring to 
their remembrance what Christ had said. He charged 
those that were apostles by the Holy Ghost ; so the 
words are placed. It was their recerinng the Holy 
Ghost, that sealed their commission, John 20. 22. 
He was not taken up till after he had given them 
their charge, and so finished his work. 

2. He instructed them concerning the doctrine 
they were to preach ; He spake to them of the things 
pertaining to the kingdom of God. He had given 
them a general idea of that kingdom, and the certain 
time it should be set up in the world ; (in his para- 
ble, Mark 13.) but here he let them more into the 
nature of it, as a kingdom of grace in this w orld, and 
of glory in the other ; and opened to them that cove 
nant which is the ^eat charter bv which it is incor 
porated. Now this was intended, (1.) To prepare 
them to receive the Holy Ghost, and to go through 
that which they were designed for. He tells them 
in secret what they must tell the world ; and they 
shall find that the Spirit of truth, when he comes, will 
say the same. (2.) To be one of the proofs of 
Christ's resurrection ; so it comes in here ; the disci- 
ples, to whom he shewed himself alive, knew that it 
was he, not only by what he shelved the?/?, but bv 
what he said to them. None but he could speak 
thus clearly, thus fully, of the things pertaining to 
the kingdom of God. He did not entertain them 
with discourses of politics or the kingdoms of men. 



8 



THE ACTS, I. 



of philosophy or the kingdom of nature, but pure 
divinity and the kingdom of grace ; the things which 
most nearly concerned them, and those to whom 
they were sent. 

IV. A particular assurance given them, that they 
should now shortly receive the Holy Ghost, with 
ordei^s given. them to expect it; {y. 4, 5.) he being 
assembled together with them, probably m the in- 
terview at the mountain in Galilee, which he had 
appointed before his death ; for there is mention of 
their coming together again, {v. 6.) to attend his as- 
cension. Ihough he had now ordered them to Gali- 
lee, yet they must not think to continue there ; no, 
they must return to Jerusalem, and not depart 
thence. Observe, 

1. The command he gives them to wait ; this was 
to raise their expectations of something great ; and 
something very great they had reason to expect 
from their exalted Redeemer. (1. ) They must tvait 
till the time afifiointed, which is now not many days 
hence. They that by faith hope promised mercies 
will come, must with patience wait tillthey do come ; 
according to the time, the set time. And when the 
time draws nigh, as now it did, we must, as Daniel, 
look earnestly for it, Dan. 9. 3. (2.) They must 
wait in the place appointed, in .Jerusalem, for there 
the Spirit must be jUvnt poured ow?,.because Christ 
was to be as King upon the holy hill of Zion ; and 
because the word of the J^ord must go forth from 
Jerusalem; that must be the mother-church. There 
Christ wdsput to shame, and therefore-there he will 
have this honour done him; and this favour is done 
to Jerusalem, to teach us to forgive our enemies and 
persecutors. The apostles were more exposed to 
danger at Jerusalem than they would have been in 
Galilee ; but we may cheerfully trust God with our 
safety, when we keep, in the way of our duty. The 
apostles were now to put on a public character, and 
therefore rnust venture in a public station ; Jerusa- 
lem was the fittest candlestick for those lights to be 
setup in. 

2. ,The assurance he gives them that they shall 
not wait in vain ; the blessing designed them shall 
come, and they shall find it was worth waiting for ; 
You shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost : that is, 
(1,.) " The Holy Ghost shall be poured out upon you 
more plentifully than even'* They had already 
been breathed upon with the Holy Ghost, (John 20. 
22. ) and they had found the benefit of it ; but now 
they shall have larger measures of his gifts, graces, 
and comforts, and be baptized with them; where 
there seems to be an allusion to those Old Testa- 
ment promises of the pouring out of the Spirit, Joel 
2. 28. Isa. 44. 3.-32. 15. (2.) " Ye shall be cleansed 
and purified by the Holy Ghost, as the priests were 
baptized and washed with water, when they were 
consecrated to the sacred function ; They had the 
sign, ye shall have the thing signified. Ye shall be 
sanctified by the truth,, as the Spirit shall lead you 
more and more into it, and your consciences purged 
by the witness of the Spirit, that ye may serve'^the 
living God in the apostleship." (3.) "Ye shall 
hereljy be more effectually than ever engaged to 
your blaster, and to his conduct, as Israel was bap- 
tized un'o Moses in the cloud, and in the sea; ye 
shall be tied so fast to Christ, that ye shall never, 
for fear of any sufferings, forsake him again, as once 
you did." 

Now thk gift of the Holy Ghost he speaks of, [1. ] 
As the fironmr of the Father, which they had heard 
of him, and might tlierefore depend upon. 

First, The S/iirit was green by promise, and it was 
at this lime the great promise, as that of tlie Mes- 
siah was before, (Luke 1. 72.) and that nf eternal 
life is now, 1 John 2. 25. Temporal good thincs ai-e 
given by Providence, but the S/iiri't and sjjiritnal 
blessings are grirn by pro7nise, Gal. 3. 18. The 



Spirit of God is not given as the spirit of men is givn 
us, and formed within us, by a course of nature, 
(Zech. 12. 1.) but by the word of God. 1. That 
the gift may be the more valuable, Christ thought 
the promise of the Spirit a legacy worth leaving to 
his church. 2. That it may be the more sure, and 
that the heirs of promise may be confident of the ini 
mutability of God's counsel herein. 3. Thatitmaj 
be of grace, peculiar grace, and may be received by 
faith, laying hold on the promise, and depending 
upon it. A" Chi'ist, so the Spirit is received by faith. 

Secondly, It was the promise of the Father, oj 
Christ's Father. Christ, as Mediator, had an eye 
to God as his Father, fathering his design, and own- 
ing it all along. Of our Father, who, if he give us 
the adoption of sons, will certainly give us the Spirit 
ofadoptio?2, Gal. 4. 5, 6. He will give the Spirit, 
as the Fatherof lights, as the Feather of spirits, and 
as the F'ather of mercies; it is the promise of the 
Feather. 

Thirdly, This promise of the Father they had 
heard from Christ many a time, especially m the 
farewell sermon he preached to them a little before 
he died, wherein he assured them, again and again, 
that the Comforter shozild come. This confirms the 
promise of God, and encourages us to depe'nd upon 
it, that we have heard it from Jesus Christ ; for in 
him all the promises of God are yea, and amen. 

You have heard it from me, and I will make it 



[2. ] As the prediction of John Baptist ; for so far 
Christ here directs them to look ; {v. 5.) '• You have 
not only heard it from me, but you had it from John ; 
when he turned you over to me, he said, (Matt. 3. 
11.) / indeed baptize you with water, but he that 
comes after me, shall baptize you with the Holy 
Ghost.' It is a great honour that Christ now does 
to John, not only to quote his words, but to make tliis 
great gift of the Spirit, now at hand, to be the ac- 
complishment of them. Thus he confirmeth the 
word of his servants, his messengers, Isa. 44. 26. 
But Christ can do more than any of his m.inisters. 
It is an honour to them to be employed in dispensing 
the means of grace, but it is his prerogative to give 
the Spirit of grace. He shall baptize you with the "^ 
Holy Ghost ; shall teach you by his Spirit, and give 
his Spirit to make intercession in you ; which is more 
than the best ministers preaching with us. 

Now this gift of the Holy Ghost thus promised, 
thus prophesied of, thus waited for, is that which 
we find the apostles received in the next chapter, 
for in that this promise had its full accomplishment ; 
that was it that shall come, and we look for no other ; 
for it is here promised to be given not many days 
hence. He does not tell them how many, because 
they must keep every day in a frame fit to receive it. 
Other scriptures speak of the gift of the Holy Ghost 
to ordinary believers, this speaks of that particular 
power which, by the Holy Ghost, the first preachci*s 
of the gospel, and planters of the church, were en- 
dued with, enabling them infallibly to relate to that 
age, and record to posterity, the doctrine of Christ, 
and the proofs of it ; so that by virtue of this pi-o- 
misc, and the performance of it, we receive the 
New Testament as of divine inspiration, and venture 
our souls upon it. 

6. When they therefore were come to- 
g;ether, they asked of him, saying, Lord, 
wilt thou at this time restore again tlu 
kingdom to Israel ? 7, And lie said unto 
them, It is not for you to know tlie times 
or the seasons, which tlie Father hath |uit 
in his own power. 8. But ye shall humm o 
power, after that the Holy Ghosl is come 



THE ACTS, 1. 



upon you : and ye shall be witnesses unto 
me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, 
and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost 
part of the earth. 9. And when he had 
spoken these things, while they beheld, he 
was taken up ; and a cloud received him 
out of their sight. 10. And while they 
looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went 
up, behold, two men stood by them in white 
apparel ; 11. Which also said, Ye men of 
Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into hea- 
ven ? This same Jesus, which is taken up 
from you into heaven, shall so come in hke 
manner as ye have seefi him go into heaven. 

In Jerusalem Christ, by his angel, had appointed 
his disciples to meet him in Galilee ; there he ap- 
pointed them to meet him in Jerusalem again, such 
a day ; thus he would try their obedience, and it was 
found ready and cheerful ; they came together, as he 
appointed them, to be the witnesses of his ascension ; 
which here we have an account of. Observe, 

I. The question they asked him at this interview. 
They came together to him, as those that had con- 
sulted one another about it, and concurred in the 
question, nemine contradicente — unanimously ; they 
came in a body, and put it to him as the sense of the 
hduse ;' Z/Orc?, nvilt thou at this time restore again 
the kingdom to Israel? Two ways this may be 
taken. 

1. " Surely ;AoM wz7^ not at all restore it to the 
jjresent rulers of Israel, the chief priests and the 
elders, that put thee to death, and, to compass that 
design, tamely gave up the kingdom to Cxsar, and 
owned themselves his subjects ! What ! Shall those 
that hate and persecute thee and us, be trusted with 
power? That be far from thee." Or rather, 

2. " Surely thou wilt now restore it to the Jewish 
n;ition, as far as it will submit to thee as their king !" 
Now two things were amiss in this question : 

(1.) Their expectation of the thing itself. They 
thought Christ would restore the kingdom to Israel, 
tliat is, that he would make the nation of the Jews 
as great and considerable among the nations as it 
was in the days of David and Solomon, of Jlsa and 
Jehoshafihat ; that, as Shiloh, he would restore the 
sce/itreto Judah, and the lawgiver ; whereas Christ 
c ime to set up his own kingdom, and that a king- 
dom of heaven, not to restore the kingdom to Israel, 
an earthly kingdom. See how apt even good men 
are to place the happiness of the church too much in 
external pomp and power ! As if Israel were not 
glnrinus unless the kingdom were restored to it, nor 
Christ's disciples honoured unless they were peers 
f f the realm ; whereas we are bid to expect the cross 
in this world, and to wait for the kingdom in the 
other world. See how apt we are to retain what 
v/r have imbibed, and how hard it is to get over the 
prejudices of education ! The disciples having suck- 
ed in this notion with their milk, that the Messiah 
w (s to be a temporal prince, they were long before 
thf^v could be brought to have any idea of his king- 
dom as spiritual. See also how naturally we are 
biassed in favour of our own people ! They thought 
God would have no kingdom in the world, unless it 
were restored to Israel ; whereas the kingdoms of 
this world were to become his, in whom he would 
hi* >:;lorihed, whether Israel sink, or swim. See also 
Inw apt we are to misunderstand scripture, and to 
understand that literally, which is spoken figura- 
t'\clv, and to expound scripture by our schemes, 
whereas we ought to form our schemes by the scrip- 
tures. But when the Spirit ahull be poured out from 

Vol. VI.— B 



on high, our mistakes will be rectified, as the apos- 
tles' soon after were. 

(2.)' Their inquiry concerning the time of it; 
"Lord, wilt thou do it at this time? Now thai thou 
hast called us together, is it for this purpose, that 
proper measures may be concerted for the restoring 
of the kingdom to Israel? Surely there cannot be a 
more favourable juncture than this." Now herein 
they missed it, [1.] That they were inquisitive into 
that which their Master had never directed or en- 
couraged them to inquire into. [2.] That they 
were impatient for the setting up of that kingdom in 
which they promised tliemselves so great a share, 
and would anticipate the divine counsels. Christ 
had told them that they should sit on throjies, (Luke 
22, 30.) and now nothing will serve them but they 
must be in the throne immediately, and cannot stay 
the time ; whereas he that believeth, doth not make 
haste, but is satisfied that God's time is. the best 
time. 

II. The check which Christ gave to this question, 
like that which he had a little before given to Peter's 
inquiry concerning John, What is that to thee? v. 7. 
It 2.9 not for you to know the times and seasons. He 
does not contradict their expectation that the king- 
dom would be restored to Israel, because that mis- 
take would soon be rectified by the pouring out of 
the Spirit, after which they never had any more 
thoughts of the temporal kingdom ; and also be- 
cause there is a sense of the expectation which is 
true, the setting up of the gospel-kingdom in the 
world ; and their mistake of the promise, shall not 
make it of no effect ; but he checks their inquiry 
after the time. 

1. The knowledge of this is not allowed to them , 
It is not for you to know, and therefore // is not for 
you to ask. (1.) Christ is now parting from them, 
and parts in love ; and yet he gives them this re- 
buke, which is intended for a caution to his church 
in all ages, to take heed of splitting upon the rock 
which was fatal to our first parents — an inordinate 
desire of forbidden knowledge, and intruding into 
things which we have not seen, because God has not 
shewn. JVescire velle quee magister maximus docere 
non vult, erudita inscitia est — It is folly to covet to 
be wise above what is written, and wisdo7n to be con- 
tent to be no wiser. (2.) Christ had given his dis- 
ciples a great deal of knowledge above others, f 7o 
you it is given to know the vnistciies of the kingdom 
of God, ) and had promised them his Spirit, to teach 
them more ; now, lest they should be puffed up with 
the abundance of the revelations, he here lets them 
understand that there were some things which it 
was not for them to know. We shall see how little 
reason we have to be proud of our knowledge, when 
we consider how many things we are ignorant of. 
(3.) Christ had given his disciples instructions suf- 
ficient for the discharge of their duty, both before 
his death, and since his resurrection, and this know- 
ledge he will have them to be satisfied in ; for it is 
enough for a christian, in whom vain curiosity is a 
corrupt humour, to be mortified, and not gratified. 
(4.) Christ had himself told his disciples the things 
pertaining to the kingdom of Cod, and had pro- 
mised that the Spirit should shew them things to 
cowe concerning it, John ]6. 13. He had likewise 
given them signs of the times, which it was their 
duty to observe, and a sin to overlook, Matt. 24. oo. 
16. 3. But they must not expect ov desire to know, 
either all the particulars of future events, or the 
exact times of them. It is good for us to be kept in 
the dark, and left at uncertainty concerning the times 
and moments (as Dr. Hammond reads it) rf future 
events concerning the church, as well as concerning 
ourselves ; concerning all the periods of time and 
the final period of it, as well as concerning the period 
of our own time. 



THE ACTS, 1. 



Pnidens Itiluri Unipnri? exitum 
Caliginosa nocte premlt Deus— 
But Jove, in n;ooilness ever wise, 

Hatli hid, in clouds or thickest night, 
All thai ill future prospect lies 

Beyond the ken of mortal sight. — HoR. 

As to the times and seasons of the year, we know in 
general, there will be summer and winter counter- 
changed, but we know not particularly which day 
will be fair or which foul, either in summer or in 
winter ; so, as to our affairs in this world, when it is 
a summer-time of prosperity, that we may not be 
secure, we are told there will come a winter-time 
of trouble ; and in that winter, that we may not 
despond and despair, we are assured that summer 
will return ; but what tliis or that particular day 
tvill bring forth, we cannot tell, but must accommo- 
date ourselves to it, whatever it is, and make the 
best of it. 

2. The knowledge of it is reser\'ed to God as his 
prerogative ; it is what the Father hath put in his 
oivn /lower ; it is hid with him. None besides can 
reveal the times and seasons to come ; known unto 
God are all his works, but not to us, ch. 15. 18. It 
is in his power, and in his only, to declare the end 
from the beginning ; and by this he i)rf>ves himself 
to be (iod, Isa. 46. 10. And though he did think fit 
sometimes to let ''le Old Testament projjhets know 
th^ times and the seasons, (as of the Israelites' bon- 
dage in Egypt four hundred years, and in Babylon 
seventy vears,) yet he has not thought fit to let you 
know the times and seasons, no not just how long it 
shall be befoi-e Jerusalem be destroyed, though you 
be so well assured of the thing itself. He hath not 
said that he will not give you to l3iow something 
more than you do of the times and seasons ; lie did so 
afterward to his servant John ; but he has put it in 
hii own flower to do it or not, as he thinks fit ; and 
what is in that New Testament prophecy discovered 
concerning the times and the seasons, is so dark, and 
hard to be understood, that, when we come to apply 
it, it concerns us to remember this word, that it is 
not for us to be positive in determining the times 
and the seasons. Buxtorf mentions a saying of the 
Rabbins concerning the coming of the Messiah ; 
Fumfiatur sfiirilus eorum qui supputaiit tem/iora — 
Perish the men who calculate the time. 

III. He cuts them out their work, and with au- 
thoritv assures them of an aliility to go on with it, 
and of success in it ; " It is not for you to know the 
times and the seasons, that will do you no good ; but 
know this, (x>. 8.) that ye shall receive a spiritual 
power, bv the descent of the Holy Ghost upon you, 
and shall not receive it in Tain, for ye shall be wit- 
nesses unto me and my glory, and your testimfniy 
shall not be in vain, for it shall be received here in 
Jerusalem, in the country about and all the world 
over,"T'. 8. If Christ make us serviceable to his 
honour in our own day and generation, let that be 
enough for us, and let not us perplex ourselves 
about times and seasons to come. Christ here tells 
them, 

1. That their work should be honourable and 
glorious; Ye shall be witnesses unto me. (1.) They 
shall proclaim him King, and publish those truths 
to the world, by which his kingdom should be set 
up, and he would rule. They must openly and so- 
lemnly preach his gospel to the world. (2.) They 
shall i)rove this, shall confirm their testimony, not 
as witnesses do, with an oath, b\it with the divine 
seal of miracles and supernatural gifts ; Ye shall be 
marti/rs to me, or 7nv martyrs, as some copies read 
it ; f'^r thev attested the truth of the gospel with 
their sufit-rings, even rtnto death. 

2. Th;it their i)ower fcr this work should be suf- 
ficient. They had not strength of their own for it, 
nor wisdom or courage enough ; they were naturally 



of the weak anil foolish things of the world ; they 
durst net appear as witnesses for Christ upon his 
trial, neither as yet were they able. " But ye shall 
receh'e the power of the Holy Ghost coming upon 
you, (so it may be read,) shall be animated and ac- 
tuated by a better spirit than your own ; ye shall 
have power to preach the gospel, and to prove it 
out of the scriptures of the Old Testament," (which, 
when they vitrc filled with the Holy Ghost, they did 
to admiration, cli. 18. 28.) "and to confirm it both 
by miracles and by sufferings." 

Note, Christ's witnesses shall receive power ''v,r 
that work to which he calls them ; whom he c^i- 
ploys in his service, he will qualify them for it, and 
bear them out in it. 

.". That their influence should be great and veiy 
extensive ; "Ye shall be witnesses for Christ, and 
shall carry his cause," (1.) "/w Jerusalem ; there 
ye must Begin, and many there will receive your 
testimony ; and they that do not, will be left inex- 
cusable. ' (2.) •* Your light shall from thence s/;7>/(? 
throughout all Judea, where Ijefore ye have labour- 
ed in vain." (3.) " Thence ye shall proceed to Sa- 
maria, though at your first mission ye were forbidden 
to preach in any of the cities of' the Samaritans." 
(4.) " Your usefulness shall reach to the uttermost 
part of the earth, and ye shall be blessings to the 
whole world." 

IV. Having left these instructions with them, he 
leaves them ; (v. 9.) Jf'hen he had spoken these 
things, and had said all that he had to say, he blesi-ed 
them; (so we were told, Luke 24. 50.) and while 
they beheld him, and had their eye fixed upon nm., 
receiving his blessing, he was gradually taken up, 
and a cloud receii<ed him out of their sight. We 
have here Christ's ascending on high ; not fetched 
away, as Elijah was, with a chariot of fire and 
horses ofjire, but rising to heaven, a» he rose from 
the grave, purely by his own power ; his body being 
now, as the bodies of the saints will be at the resur- 
rection, a spiritual body, and raised in power and 
incorruption. Observe, 

1. He began his ascension in the sight of his dis- 
ciples, even while they beheld. They did not see 
him come up out of the grave, because they might 
see him after he was risen, which would be satis- 
faction enough ; but they saw him go up toward 
heaven, and had actually their eye upon him, with 
so much care and attention of mind, that they could 
not be deceived. It is pmbable that he did not f y 
swiftly up, but mo\ ed upwards gently, for the further 
satisfaction of his disciples. 

2. He vanished out of their sight, in a cloud, 
either a thick cloud, for God said that he would 
dwell in the thick darkness ; or a bright cloud, to 
signify the splendour of his gloriotis body. It was a 
bright cloud that overshadowed him in his transfigu- 
ration, and most probably this was so. Matt. 17. 5. 
This cloud received him, it is ])robable, when lie 
was gone about as far from the earth as the cU u(!s 
generally are ; yet it was not such a s])rcading clrtnl 
as we commonly see, but such as just served to en • 
close him. Now he made the clouds his chario', 
Ps. 104. 3. God had often come down in a cl< ik', 
now he went up in one. Dr. Hammond thinks tliat 
the clouds receivinir him here, were the angels ••<-- 
ceiving him ; for the appearance of angels is v\(\'- 
narilv described bv a cloud, com])aring Exod. Co. 
22. with Lev. 16. 2. By the clouds there is a s'Mt 
of a communication kejit u]) betw et-n the up]ier ;iik1 
lower world, in them the \ apotirs are sent vi]) fn m 
the earth, and the dews sent down from hea\cn ; 
fitly therefore does he ascend in a cloud, who is the 

I Mediator between God and man, bv whom G' d's 

mercies come down vipon us, and our prayers Cf mc 

I up to him. This was the last that was seen of hini, 

! the eyes of a great many witnesses followed him i^ita 



THE ACTS, I. 



II 



the cloud: if we would know what came of him 
then, we may find, (Dan. 7. 13.) That one like the 
Son of man came rjith the clouds of heaven, and 
came to the Ancient of days, and ihey brought him 
in the clouds as he came near before him 

V. The disciples, when he was gone out of their 
sight, yet still continued looking u/i steadfastly to 
heax>en, {y. 10.) and this longer than it was fit they 
should ; and why so ? 

1. Perhaps, they hoped that Christ would pre- 
sently come back to them again, to restore the king- 
dom to Israel, and were loath to believe they should 
now part with him for good and all ; so much did 
they still dote upon his bodily presence, though he 
liad told them that it nvas expedient for them that 
he should go aivay. Or, they look after him, as 
doubting whether he might not be dropped, as the 
sons of the prophets thought concerning Elijah, (2 
Kings 2. 16.) and so they might have him again. 

2. Perhaps, they expected to see some change in 
the visible heavens, now upon Christ's ascension, 
that either the sun should be ashamed, or the moon 
corifounded, (Isa. 24. 23.) as being out-shone by his 
lustre ; or rather, that they should shew some sign 
of jny and triumph ; or perhaps they promised them- 
selves a sight or the glory of the invisible heavens, 
upon their opening to receive him. Christ had told 
them, that hereafter they should see heaven opened ; 
(John 1. 51.) and why should not they expect it 
now ? 

VI. Two angels appeared to them, and delivered 
them a seasonable message from God. There was 
a world of angels ready to receive our Redeemer, 
now that he made his public entry into the Jerusa- 
lem above: we may suppose these two loath to be 
absent then ; yet, to shew how much Christ had at 
heart the concerns of his church on earth, he sent 
two of those that came to meet him, back to his 
disciples, who appear as two men in white apparel, 
bright and glistering ; for they know, according to 
the duty of their place, that they are really serving 
Christ, when they are ministering to his senmnts on 
earth. Now we are told what they said to them, 

1. To check their curiosity ; Ye men of Galilee, 
why stand ye gazing up into heaven ? He calls 
them men of Galilre, to put them in mind of the 
rock out of which they were hewn. Christ had put 
a great honour upon them, in making them his am- 
bassadors ; but they must remember that they are 
men, earthen vessels, and 7nen of Galilee, illiterate i 
men, looked upon with disdain. Now, say they, 
«* II hy stand ye here, like Galileans, rude and un- 
polished men, gazing up into heaven? What would 
ye see ? You have seen all that ve were called to- 
gether to see, and why do ve lonk any further ? Jiliy 
stand ye gazing, as men frightened and T^erplexed, 
uj meti astonished and at their wits' end ?" Christ's 
disciples should never stand at a gaze, because they 
have a sure rule to go by, and a sure foundation to 
build upon. 

2. To confirm their faith concerning Christ's se- 
cond coming. Their Master had often told them 
of that, and the angels are sent at this time season- 
ably to put them in mind of it ; " This same Jesus, 
who is taken up from you into heaven, and whom ve 
are looking thus long after, wishing ye had him with 
you again, is not gone for ever, for there is a day 
appointed, in which he will come in like manner 
thence, as ye have seen him go thither, and ye must 
not expect him back till that appointed day!" (1.) 
'• This .same Jesus shall come again in his own per- 
son, clothed with this glorious body ; this same Je- 
si/s, who came once to put away sin bt/ the sacrifice 
rf himself will appear a second time without sin, 
(Heh. 9. 2f>, 28.) who came once in disgrace to be 
i'ldRcd, will come again in glory to judge. The same 
J<fsus, who has given you your charge, will come 



again to call you to an account, how you have per- 
formed your trust ; he, and not another," Jol) 19. 
27. (2.) "He s'jall come in like maimer. He is 
gone away in a cloud, and attended with angels ; 
and behold, he comes in the clouds, and with him an 
innumerable company (f angels? He is gone up 
with a shout and with the sound of a trumpet, (Ps. 
47. 5.) and he will descend from heaven vjith a 
shout and with the trump of God, 1 Thess. 4. 16. 
Ye have now lost the sight ot him in the clouds and 
in the air ; and whither he is gone, ye cannot follow 
him now, but shall then, when \ e shall be caui(ht up 
in the clouds, to meet the I^ord in the air." vVhen 
we stand gazing and trifling, the consideration of 
our Master's second coming should quicken ar.d 
awaken us : and when we stand gazing and trem- 
bling, the consideration of it should comfort and 
encourage us. 

12. Then returned they unto Jerusalem 
from the mount called Olivet, which is from 
Jerusalem a sabbath-days' journey. 13. 
And when they were come in, they went 
up into an upper-room, where abode both 
Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, 
Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and 
Matthew, James the son of Alpheus, and 
Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of 
James. 14. These all continued with one 
accord in prayer and supplication, with the 
women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, 
and with his brethren. 

We are here told, 

1. From whence Christ ascended •,from the mount 
of Olives, {v. 12.) from that part of it where the 
town of Bethany stood, Luke 24. 50. There he be- 
gan his sufferings, (Luke 22. 39. ) and therefore there 
he rolled away the reproach of them by his glorious 
ascension, and thus shewed that his passion and his 
ascension had the same reference and tendency. 
Thus would he enter upon his kingdom in the sight 
of Jerusalem, and of those undutiful ungrateful citi- 
zens of his, that would not have him to reign over 
them. It was prophesied of him, (Zech. 14. 4.) 
That his feet shall stand upon the mount of Olires, 
which is before Jerusalem, shall stand last there ; 
and presently it follows. The jnount of Oliri'es shall 
cleave in two. From the mount of Olives he as- 
cended, who is the good Olive-tree, whence we re- 
ceive Me unction, Zech. 4. 12. Rom. 11. 24. This 
mount is here said to be near Jerusalem, a sabbath- 
day''s journey from it, that is, a little way ; no fur- 
ther than devout people used to walk out on a sab- 
bath-evening, after the public worship was over, for 
meditation ; some reckon it a thousand paces, others 
two thousand cubits ; some seven furlongs, others 
eight. Bethany indeed was fifteen furlongs fro7n 
Jerusalem, (John 11. 18.) but that part oi the mount 
of Olii'es which was next to Jerusalem, whence 
Christ began to ride in triumph, was but seven or 
eight furlongs off. The Chaldee paraphrast on Ruth 
1. says, Jf'e are commanded to keep the sabbaths 
and the holy days, so as not to go above two thou- 
sand cubits ; which they build upon Josh. 3. 4. where, 
in their march through Jordan, the space between 
them and the ark was to be two thousand cubits. 
God had not then thus limited them, but they limited 
themselves ; and thus far it is a rule to us, not to 
journev on the sabbath any more than in order to 
the sabbath -work ; and as far as is necessary to that^ 
we are not only allowed, but enjoined, 2 Kings 4. 23. 

2. Whither the disciples returned; They came ti 
Jei'usalem, according to their Master's appointment, 



Vl 



THE ACTS, 1. 



though there they were in the midst of enemies ; 
but it should seem that though immediately after 
Christ's resurrection they were watched, and were 
in fear of the Jews, yet alter it was known that they 
were gone into Galilee, no notice was taken of their 
return to Jerusalem, nor any further search made 
for them. God can find out hiding-places for his 
people in the midst of their etiemies, and so influence 
Saul, that he shall not seek for David any more. At 
Jerusalem they nvent up into an upper room, and 
there abode ; not that they all lodged and dieted to- 
gether in one room, but there they assembled every 
day, and spent time together in religious exercises, 
in expectation of the descent of th^ Spirit. Divers 
conjectures the learned have about ^Aw upper room ; 
some think it was one of the upper rooms in the 
temple ; but it cannot be thought that the chief priests, 
who had the letting of those rooms, would suffer 
Christ's disciples constantly to reside in any of 
them. It was said indeed, by the same historian, 
that they were continually in the temple ; (Luke 24. 
53.) but that was in the courts of the temple, at the 
hours of prayer, where they could not be hindered 
from attending ; but, it should seem, this upper room 
was in a private house. Mr. Gregory, of Oxford, 
is of that mind, and quotes a Syriac scholiast upon 
this place, who says that it was the same upper rooni 
in which they had eaten the passovcr ; and though 
that was called, u^Lyioy, this, iTrifZ^v, both may sig- 
nify the same. "Whether," says he, "it was m 
the house of St. John the evangelist, as Euodius de- 
livered, or that of Mary the mother of John Mark, 
as others have collected, cannot be certain." Notes, 
ch. 13. 

3. Who the disciples were, that kept together. 
The eleven apostles are here named, {v. 13.) so is 
Mary the mother of our Lord, {v. 14.) and it is the 
last time that ever "any mention is made of her in the 
scriptures. There were others that are here said 
to be the brethren of ( ur Lord, his kinsmen according 
to the flesh ; and, to make up the hundred and twenty 
spoken of, {y. 15.) we may suppose that all or most 
of the seventy disciples were with them, that were 
associates with the apostles, and were employed as 
evangelists. 

4. How they spent their time ; They all cojitinued 
with one accord in prayer and supplication. Ob- 
serve, 

(1.) They prayed, and made supplicatioji. All 
God's people are praying people, 2iwAgive themselves 
to prayer. It was now a time of trouble and danger 
with the disciples of Christ, they were as sheep in 
the midst of wolves ; and, Is any afflicted ? Let him 
pray ; that will silence cares and fears. They had 
new work before them, great work, and before they 
entered upon it, they were instant in prayer to God 
for his presence vvith them in it. Before tluy were 
first sent forth, Christ spent time in prayer for them, 
and now they in prayer for themselves. They were 
waiting for the descent of the Spirit upon them, and 
therefore abounded thus in prayer. The S/iirit de- 
scended upon our Saviour when he was ])raying, 
Luke 3. 21. Those are in the best frame to receive 
spiritual blessings, that are in a praying frame. 
Christ had promised now shortly to send the Holy 
Ghost ; now that promise was not to supersede 
prayer, but to quicken and encourage it. God will 
be inquired of for promised mercies, and the nearer 
the performance seems to be, the more earnest we 
should be in prayer for it. 

(2.) They coTitinued in prayer, spent much time 
in it more than ordinary, i)rayed frc(i\ieiiUy, and 
were long in prayer. They never missed an hour 
of praver ; they resolved to persevere herein till 
'he Holy Ghost came, according to the promise ; to 
pray, and ?iot to faint. It was said, (Luke 24. 53.) 
They were praising and blessing God ; here. They 



continued in prayer and supplication ; for as praise 
for the promise is a decent way of begging for the 
perfonnance, and praise for former mercy ot begging 
further mercy ; so, in seeking to God, we give him 
the glory of the mercy and grace which we have 
found in him. 

(3.) They did this with one accord ; that intimates 
that they tvere together in holy love, and that there 
was no quarrel or discord among them. ; and those 
who so keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of 
fieace, are best prepared to receive the comforts of 
the Holy Ghost. It also speaks their worthy con- 
currence in the supplications that were made ; 
though but one spake, they all prayed, and if, when 
two agree to ask, it shall be done for them, much 
more when many agree in the same petition. See 
Matt. 18. 19. 

15. And in those days Peter stood up in 
the midst of the disciples, and said, (the 
number of the names together w ere about 
an hundred and twenty,) 16. Men and 
brethren, This Scripture must needs have 
been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by 
the mouth of David spake before concern- 
ing Judas, which was guide to them that 
took Jesus. 1 7. For he was numbered 
with us, and had obtained part of tliis min- 
istry. 18. Now this man purchased a field 
with the reward of iniquity ; and falling 
headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, 
and all his bowels, gushed out. 19. And it 
was known unto all the dwellers at Jeru- 
I salem ; insomuch as that field is called in 
their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to 
say. The field of blood. 20. For it is writ- 
ten in the book of Psalms, Let his iiabita- 
tion be desolate, and let no man dwell 
therein : and his bishopric let another lake. 
21. Wherefore of these men which have 
companied with us all the time that the 
Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22. 
Beginning from the baptism of John, unto 
that same day that he was taken up from 
us, must one be ordained to be a witness 
with us of his resurrection. 23. And they 
appointed two, .foseph called Barsabas, 
who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 
24. And they prayed, and said. Thou, 
Lord, who knowcst the hearts of all men., 
shew whether of these two thou hast cho- 
sen, 25. That he may take part of this 
ministry and apostleship, fiom which Judas 
by transgression fell, that he might go to 
his own place. 26. And they gave forth 
their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; 
and he was numbered with the eleven 
apostles. 

The sin of Judas was not only his shame and i-uin, 
but it made a gap in the collejiv of the a])ostles. 
They were ordained twelve, witli an eve to the 
twelve tribes of Israel, (k-sccnded from the twelve 
patriarchs ; tlicy were the twelve <-fars that make 
u\) the church's crown, (Kev. 12. 1.) and for them 
twelve thrones were designed, Matt. ly. 28. Now 
being twelve when they were learners, if they were 



THE ACTS, 1. 



\-3 



bvit eleven when they were to be teachers, it would 
occasion every one to inquire what was become of 
the twelfth, and so revive the remembrance of the 
scandal of their society ; and therefore care was 
taken, before (Ae descent of the Sfiirit, to fill up the 
vacancy, which now we have an account of the doing 
of, our I^ord Jesus, probably, having given direc- 
tions about it, among other things which he spake 
fiertaining to the kingdom of God. Observe, 
I. The persons concerned in this affair. 

1. The house consisted oi about an hundred and 
twenty. These were the number of the names, that 
IS, the persons ; some think, the men only, distin- 
guished from the women. Dr. Lightfoot reckons 
that the eleven a/iostles, the seventy disci/iies, and 
about thirty-nine more, all of Christ's own kindred, 
country, and concourse, made up this one hundred 
and twenty, and that these were a sort of synod, or 
congregation of ministers, a standing presbytery, 
(cA. 4 23. ) to whom none of the rest durst join them- 
selves, {ch. 5. 13. ) and that they continued together 
till the persecution at Stephen's death dispersed 
them all but the afiostles ; {ch. 8. 1.) but he thinks 
that beside these there were many hundreds in Je- 
rusalem, if not thousands, at this time, that believed ; 
and we have indeed read of many that believed on 
him there, but durst not confess him, and therefore I 
cannot think, as he does, that they were now formed 
into distinct congregations, for the preaching of the 
word, and other acts of worship ; nor that thei-e was 
any thing of that till after the fiourmg- out of the 
Sfiirit, and the conversions in the following chapter. 
Here was the beginning of the christian church : 
this hundred and twenty was the grain of mustard 
seed that grew into a tree, the leaven that leavened 
the whole lumfi, 

2. The speaker was Peter, who had been, and 
still was, the most forward man ; and therefore no- 
tice is taken of his forwardness and zeal, to shew 
that he had perfectly recovered the ground he lost 
by his denying his Master ; and Peter being de- 
signed to be the apostle of the circumcision, while 
the sacred story stays among the Jews he is still 
brought in, as afterward, when it comes to speak of 
the Gentiles, it keeps to the story of Paul. 

II. The proposal which Peter made for the choice 
of another apostle. He stood ufi in the midst of the 
disci/iles, v. 15. He did not sit down, as one that 
gave laws, or had any supremacy over the rest, but 
stood up, as one that had only a motion to make, in 
which he paid a deference to his brethren, standing 
up when he spake to them. Now in his speech we 
may observe, 

1. The account he gives of the vacancy made by 
the death of Judas, in which he is very particular, 
and, as became one that Christ had breathed upon, 
takes notice of the fulfilling of the scriptures in it 
Here is, 

(1.) The power to which Judas had been ad- 
vanced ; (v. 17. ) He was numbered with us, and 
had obtained fiart of this ministry which we are in- 
vested with. Note, Many are numbered with the 
saints in this world, that will not be found among 
them in the day of separation between the precious 
and the vile. What will it avail us to be added to 
the number of christians, if we partake not of the 
spirit and nature of christians ? Judas's having ob- 
tained fiart of this ministry, was but an aggravation 
of his sin and ruin, as it will be of theirs who firo- 
fihesied in Christ's name, and yet were workers of 
iniquity. 

(2.) The sin of Judas, notwithstanding h s ad- 
vancement to this honour ; he was guide to them 
that took Jesus, not only informed Christ's perse- 
c<»tni-s where they mi!.';ht find him, (which they 
m'c.h'^ ha\e d^ne effectuallv, though he had kept 
out of sij^ht,) but he had the impudence to appear 



openly at the head of the party that seized him. 
He went before them to the place, and, as if he 
had been proud of the honour, gave the word of 
command, That same is he, hold himfast. Note, Ring- 
leaders in sin are the worst of sinners ; especially ii 
those that by their office should have been guides to 
the friends of Christ, are guides to his enemies. 

(3. ) The ruin of Judas by this sin ; perceiving 
the chief priests to seek the life of Christ and his 
disciples, he thought to save his by going over to 
them, and not only so, but to get an estate under 
them, of which his wages for his service, he hoped, 
would be but an earnest ; but see what came of it. 

[1.] He lost his money shamefully enough ; (x;. 
18. ) He fiurchased a field with the thirty pieces of 
silver, which were the reward of his iniquity. He 
did not purchase the field, but the wages of his 
unrighteousness did : and it is very elegantly ex- 
pressed thus, in derision of his projects to enrich 
himself by this bargain ; he thought to have fiur- 
chased a Jield for himself, as Gehazi did with what 
he got from Naaman by a lie, (see 2 Kings 5. 26.) 
but it proved the purchase of a field to bury stran- 
gers in ; and what the better was he for that, or any 
of his ? It was to him an unrighteous mammon, it 
deceived him ; and the reward of his iniquity was 
the stu7nbUng-block of his iniquity. 

[2.] He lost his life more shamefully. We were 
told (Matt. 27. 5. ) that he went away in despair, 
and was suffocated ; (so the word signifies there, 
and no more ;) here it is added (as latter historians 
add to those who went before) that, being strangled, 
or choked with grief and horror, he fell headlong, 
fell on his face, (so Dr. Hammond,) and partly with 
the sweUing of his own breast, and partly with the 
violence of the fall, he burst asunder in the midst, 
so that all his bowels tumbled out. If, when the 
devil was cast out of a child, he tore him, threw him 
down, and rent him, and almost killed him, (as we 
find Mark 9. 26. Luke 9. 42.) no wonder if, when 
he had full possession of Judas, he threw him head- 
long, and burst him. The suffocating of him, which 
Matthew relates, would make him swell till he 
buret, which Peter relates. He burst asunder with 
a great noise, (so Dr. Edwards,) which was heard 
by the neighbours, and so, as it follows, it came to 
be known, (f. 19.) His bowels gushed out ; Luke 
writes like a physician, understanding all the en- 
trails of the middle and lower ventricle. Bowclling 
is part of the punishment of traitors. Justly do 
those bowels gush out, that were shut up against 
the Lord Jesus. And perhaps Christ had an eye 
to the fate of Judas, when he said of the wicked 
servant, that he would cut him in sunder. Matt. 
24. 51. 

(4.) The public notice that was taken of this ; It 
was known to all the dwellers in Jerusalem. It was 
(as it were) put into the newspapers, and was all 
the talk of the town, as a remarkable judgment of 
God upon him that betrayed his Master, v. 19. It 
was not only discoursed of among the disciples, but 
it was in every body's mouth, and nobody disputed 
the truth of the fact. It was known, that is, it was 
known to be tine, incontestably so ; now one would 
think this should have awakened those to repent- 
ance, that had had any hand in the death of Christ, 
when they saw him that had the first hand, thus 
made an example. But their hearts were harden- 
ed, and as to those of them that were to be softened, 
it must be done by the word, and the Spirit working 
with it 

Here is one proof of the notoriety of the thing 
mentioned, that the field which was purchased with 
Judas's monev, was called j^celdama — the afield of 
blood, because it was bought with the price of blood 
which perpetuated the infamv not only of him that 
soldXhaX. innocent precious blocd, but of them that 



u 



THE ACTS, I. 



bought it too. Look how they will answer it, when 
God shall make inquisition for blood. 

(5. ) The fulfilling of the scriptures in this, which 
had spoken so plainly of this, that it must needs be 
fulfilled, V. 16. Let none be surprised or stumble 
at it, that this should be the exit of one of the 
twelve, for David had foretold not only his sin, 
(which Christ had taken notice of, John 13. 18. 
from Ps. 41. 9. He that eateth bread with me, 
h ith lift ufi the heel against me,) but had also fore- 
told, 

[1.] Hh fiunishment ; (Ps. 69. 25.) Let his habi- 
tation be desolate. That Psalm refers to the Mes- 
siah : mention was made but two or three verses 
before, of their jji^'ng him gall and vinegar, and 
therefore the following predictions of the destruc- 
tion of David's enemies must be applied to the 
enemies of Christ, and particularly to Judas. Per- 
haps he had some habitation of his own at Jerusa- 
lem, which, upon this, every body was afraid to live 
m, and so it became desolate. T'his jn-cdiction sig- 
nifies the same with that of Bildad concerning the 
wicked man, that his confidence shall be rooted out 
of his tabernacle, and shall bring him to the king of 
terrors : it shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is 
none of his ; brimstone shall be scattered ufion his 
habitation. Job 18. 14, 15. 

[2. ] The substitution of another in his room. His 
bishopric, or his office, (for so the wfird signifies in 
general,) shall another take, which is quoted from 
Ps. 109. 8. With this quotation Peter very aptly 
introd\ices the following proposal. Note, We are 
not to think the worse of any office that God has 
instituted, (whether magistracy or ministry,) either 
for the wickedness of any that are in that office, or 
for the ignominious punishment of that wickedness ; 
nor will God suffer any purpose of his to be frustrated, 
any commission of his to be vacated, or any word of 
his to be undone, for the miscarriages of them that 
are intrusted therewith. The unbelief of man shall 
not make the promise of God of none effect. Judas 
is hanged, but his bishopric is not lost. It is said of 
his habitation, that no man shall dwell therein, there 
he shall have no heir ; but it is not said so of his 
bishopric, there he shall not want a successor ; it is 
with the officers of the church as with the members 
of it, if the natural branches be broken off, others 
s\i2i\\h<i grafted in, \{.oTn. 11. 17. Christ's cause shall 
never be lost for want of witnesses. 

2. The motion he makes for the choice of another 
apostle, x*. 21, 22. Here observe, 

(1.) How the person must be qualified, that must 
fill up the vacancy ; it must be one of these men, 
these seventy disciples, that have companied with 
us, that have constantly attended us all the time that 
the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, preaching 
and working miracles for three years and a half, 
beginning from the baptism of John, which the gos- 
pel "f Christ commenced from, unto that same day 
that he was taken u/i from us. Those that have 
been diligent, faithful, and constant, in the discharge 
of their duty in a lower station, are fittest to be pre- 
ferred to a higher ; those that have been faithful in 
a little, shall be intrusted with more. And none 
should be employed as ministers of Christ, preachers 
nf his gospel, and rulers in his church, but tho.se that 
;irc well acquainted with his doctrine and doings, 
from first to last. None shall be an apostle but one 
that has companied with the apostles, and that con- 
tinually ; not that has visited them now and then, 
hut been intimately conversant with them. 

(2.) To what work he is called, that must fill up 
t'le vacancy ; he must be a witness with us of his re- 
surrection. Rv this it appears that others of the dis- 
ciples were with the eleven when Christ appeared 
t'> tliem, else tliey could not have been witnesses with 
them, as competent witnesses as they of his resur- 



rection. The great thing which the apostles were 
to attest to the world, was, Christ's resurrection, for 
that was the great proof of his being the Messiah, 
and the foundation of our hope in him. See what 
the apostles were ordained to, not to a secular dig- 
nity and dominion, but to preach Christ, and the 
power of his resurrection. 

in. 1 he nomination of the person that was to sue 
ceed Judas in his office as an apostle. 

1. Two, who were known to have been Christ's 
constant attendants, and men of great integrity, were 
set up as candidates for the place; {v. 23.) They 
appointed two ; not the elei<en, they did not takt 
upon them to determine who should be put up, but 
the hundred and twenty, for to them Peter spake, 
and not to the eleven. The two they nominated, 
were, Joseph and Matthias, of neither of whom do 
we read elsewhere, except this Joseph be the same 
with that Jesus who is called Justus, whom Paul 
speaks of, (Col. 4. 11.) and who is said to be of the 
circujncision, a native Jew, as this was; and who 
was a fellow-worker with Paul unto the kingdom 
of God, and a comfort to him ; and then it is observ- 
able, that though he came short of being an apostle, 
he did not therefore quit the ministr}-, but was very 
useful in a lower station ; for, .Are all apostles? Are 
all prophets ? Some think this Joseph is he that is 
called Joses, (Mark 6. 3.) the brother of .lames the 
less, (Mark 15. 40.) and was called Joses the just, as 
another person was called James the just. Some 
confound this with that Joses mentioned Acts 4. 3Q. 
But that was of Cyprus, this of Galilee ; and, it 
should seem, to distinguish them, that was called 
Barnabas — a son of consolation ; this Barsabas — a 
son of the oath. These two were both of them such 
worthy men, and so well qualified for the office, that 
they could not tell which of them was fitter, but all 
agreed it must be one of these two. They did not 
propose themselves nor strive for the place, but 
numbly sat still, and were ajjpointed to it. 

2. They apjjlied themselves to God by prayer for 
direction, not which of the seventy, for none of the 
rest could stand in competition with these in the 
opinion of all present, but which of these two ? v. 24. 
25. 

(1.) They appeal to God as the searcher of hearts; 
" Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, 
which we do not, and better than they know their 
own. " Observe, When an apostle was to be chosen, 
he must be chosen by his heart, and the temper and 
disposition of that. Yet Jesus, who knew all men's 
hearts, for wise and holy ends, chose Judas to be one 
of the twelve. It is comfortal)le to us, in (^ur prayers 
for the welfare of the church and its ministers, that 
the God we pray to, knows the hearts of all men, and 
has them not only under his eye, but in his hand, 
and turns them which way soever he will; can make 
them fit for his purpose, if he do not find them so, 
by giving them another Spirit. 

(2.) They desire to know which of these God had 
chosen ; Lord, shew us that, and we arc satisfied. It 
is fit that God should choose his own servants ; and 
so far as he any wav, by the disposals of his provi- 
dence, or the gifts of his Spirit, shews whom he hath 
chosen, or what he hath chosen, for us, we ought to 
comply with him. 

(3.) They are ready to receive him as a brother, 
whom God hath chosen ; for they are not contriving 
to have so much the more dignity themselves, by 
keeping out another, but desire to have one to take 
part of this mbmtrtj and afiostleship, to join with us 
in the work, and share with us in the honour, from 
which .Tudas by transi^ression fell, threw himself, bv 
deserting and betraying his ^Taster, front the place 
of an apostle, which he wns unworthy of, that he 
might go to his own place, the place of a traitor, the 
fittest place for him, not only to the gibbet, but to 



THE ACTS, 11. 



16 



I\pU; r hat was his own place. Note, Those that 

I etray Christ, as they fall from the dignity of rela- 
tion to him, so they fall into all misery. It is said of 
Balaam, (Numb. 24. 25. ) that he went to his own 
place, that is, says one of the Rabbins, he went to 
hell. Dr. Whitby quotes Ignatius suying, There is 
appointed to every man iStot roTr^Sf — a /iro/ier filace, 
which speaks the same with that of God's rendering 

I I every man according to his works. And our Sa- 
^ iour has said, that Judas's own filace should be 
such, that it had been better for him that he had 
7ii:ver been born; (Matt. 26. 24.) his misery was 
s'lch as to be worse than not being. Judas had been 
a hypocrite, and hell is the proper place of such ; 
othpr sinners, as inmates, have their portion with 
them. Matt. 24. 51. 

(4.) The doubt was determined by lot, {x>. 26.) 
which is an appeal to God, and lawful to be used for 
the determining matters not otherwise determin- 
able, provided it be done in a solemn religious man- 
ner, and with prayer, the prayer of faith ; for the lot 
in cast into the la/i, but the whole dis/iosal thereof is 
of the Lord, Prov. 16. 33. Matthias was not or- 
dained by the imposition of hands, as presbyters 
were, for he was chosen by lot, which was the act 
of God ; and therefore as he must be baptized, so he 
must be ordained, by the Holy Ghost, as they were 
all not many days after. Thus the number of the 
apostles was made up, as afterwards, when James, 
another of the twelve, was martyred, Paul was made 
an apostle. 

CHAP. n. 

Between the promise of the Messiah's coming (even the latest 
of those promises) and his coming, many ages intervened ; 
but between the promise of the Spirit and his coming, there 
were but a few days ; and during those days, the apostles, 
though they had received orders to preach the gospel to 
every creature, and to begin at Jerusalem, yet lay perfectly 
wind-bound, incognito — concealed, and not offering to 
preach. But in this chapter the north- wind and the south- 
wind awake, and then they awake, and we have them in 
the pulpit presently. Here is, I. The descent of the Spirit 
upon the apostles, and those that were ,with them, on the 
day of pentecost, v. I.. 4. II. The various speculations 
which this occasioned among the people that were now 
met in Jerusalem from all parts, v. 5.. 13. III. The ser- 
mon which Peter preached to them hereupon, wherein he 
shews that this pouring out of the Spirit was the accom- 
plishment of an Old Testament promise, (v. 14. .21.) that 
It was a confirmation of Christ's being the Messiah, which 
was already proved by his resurrection, (v. 22. 32.) and 
that it was a fruit and evidence of his ascension into heaves, 
v. 83. . 36. IV. The good effect of this sermon in the con- 
version of many to the faith of Christ, and their addition to 
the church, v. 37 . . 41. V. The eminent piety and charity 
of those primitive christians, and the manifest tokens of 
God's presence with them, and power in them, v. 42. . 47. 

1 . AND when the day of pentecost was 
J\. fully come, they were all with one 
accord in one place. 2. And suddenly 
there came a sound from heaven as of a 
rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the 
house where they were sitting. 3. And 
there appeared unto them cloven tongues 
like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 
4. And they were all filled with the Holy 
Ghost, and began to speak with other 
tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 

We have here an account of the descent of the 
Hnlv Ghost upon the disciples of Christ. Observe, 

I. When, and where, this was done, which is 
particularly noted for the greater certainty of the 
thing. 

1. It was ruhen the day of fientecost was fully come. 
There seems to be a reference to the manner of the 



expression in the institution of this feast, where it is 
said, (Lev. 23. 15.) Ye shall count unto ynw sn.'en 
sabbaths com/ilefr, from the day of the offering of 
the first-fruits, which was the next day but one after ^ 
the passover, the sixteenth day of the month Abib, 
which was the day that Christ rose. This day was 
fully come, that is, the night preceding, with a part 
of the day, was fully past. 

(1.) The Holy Ghost came down at the time of a 
solemn feast, because there was then a great con- 
course of people to Jemsalem from all parts of the 
country, and of proselytes from other countries, 
which would make it the more public, and the fame 
of it to be spread the sooner and further, which 
would contribute much to the propagating of the 
gospel into all nations. Thus now, as before at the 
passover, the Jewish feasts served to toll the bell for 
gospel-services and entertainments. 

(2. ) This feast of pentecost was kept in remem- 
brance of the giving of the law upon mount Sinai, 
whence the incorporating of the Jewish church was 
to be dated, which Dr. Lightfoot reckons to be just 
one thousand four hundred and forty-seven vears 
before this. Fitly, therefore, is the Holy Ghost 
given at that feast, in fire and in tongues, for the 
promulgation of the evangelical law, not as that to 
one nation, but to every creature. 

(3.) This feast of pentecost happened on the^rs^ 
day of the week, which was an additional honour put 
on that day, and a confirmation of it to be the chris- 
tian sabbath, the day which the Lord hath made, to 
be a standing memorial in his church of those two 
great blessings — the resurrection of Christ, and the 
pouring out of the Spirit, both on that day of the 
week. This ser\es not only to justify us in observ- 
ing that day under the style and title of the Lord's 
day, but to direct us in the sanctifying of it to give 
God praise particularlv for those two great blessings; 
every Lord s day in the year, I think, there should 
be a full and particular notice taken in our prayers 
and praises of these two, as there is by some churches 
of the one, once a year-, upon Easter-day, and of the 
other, once a year, upon Whit-sunday, Oh ! that 
we may do it with suitable affections ! 

2. It was when they were all with one accord in 
one filace. What place it was, we are not told par- 
ticularly, whether in the temple, where they attend- 
ed at public times, (Luke 24. 53.) or whether in their 
own upper room, where they met at other times. 
But it was at Jerusalem, because it had been the 
place which God chose to put his name there ; the 
prophecy was, that /row hence the word of the Lord 
should go forth to all nations, (Isa. 2. 3.) and it wa; 
now the place of the general rendezvous of all de 
vout people ; there God had promised to meet them, 
and bless them, here therefore he meets them with 
this blessing of blessings. Though Jerusalem had 
done the utmost disiionour imaginable to Christ, yet 
he did this honour to Jerusalem, to teach us not to 
fall out with places, nor conceive prejudices against 
them ; for God has his remnant in all places, he had 
so in Jerusalem. 

Here they were in one place, and they were not 
as yet so many, but that one place, and no large one, 
would hold them all. And here they were with one 
accord. We cannot forget how often, while their 
Master was with them, there were strifes among 
them, which should be the greatest ; but now all these 
strifes were at an end, we hear no more of them ; 
what they had received already of the Holy Ghost, 
when Christ breathed on them, had in a good mea- 
sure rectified the mistakes upon which those co - 
tests were grounded, and had disposed them to holy 
love. Thev had prayed more together of late than 
usual, (f//. i. 14.) and that made them love one an- 
other better. Bv his grace he thus prepared then< 
for the cift of the Holy Ghost ; for that blessed dove 



16 



THE ACTS, II. 



comes n t where there is noise and clamour, but 
moves upon tlie face of the still waters, not the rug- 
ged ones. W'ould we ha\e the Spirit poured out 
ufion unj'rom on high ? Let us be all of ont accord, 

•• and, notwithstanding variety of sentiments and in- 
terests, as, no doubt, there was among those disci- 

, pies, let us agree to love one another ; for where 
brethren divetl together in unity, there it is that the 
Lord commands his blessing. 

II. How, and in what manner, the Holy Ghost 
came upon them. We often read in the Old Tes- 
tament of God's coming down in a cloud ; as when 
he took possession of the tabemacle first, and after- 
ward of the temple, which intimates the darkness 
of that dispensation. And Christ went ufi to heaven 
in a cloud, to intimate how much we are kept in the 
dark concerning the upper world. But the Holy 
Ghost did not descend in a cloud ; for he was to dis- 
pel and scatter the clouds that overspread men's 
minds, and to bring light into the world. 

1. Here is an audible summons given them to 
awaken their expectations of something great, i>. 1. 
It is here said, (1.) That it came suddenly, did not 
rise gradually, as common winds do, but was at the 
height immediately. It came sooner than they ex- 
pected, and startled even them that were now to- 
gether waiting, and, probably, employed in some 
religious exercises. (2. ) It was a sound from hea- 
ven, like a thunder-clap. Rev. 6. 1. God is said to 
bring the winds out of his treasuries, (Ps. 35. 7. ) and 
to gather them in his hands, Prov. 30. 4. From him 
this sound came, like the voice of one crying, Fre- 
fiare ye the way of the Lord. (3. ) It was the sound 
of a wind, for the way of the Spirit is like that of ihe 
wind; (John 3. 8.) thou hearest 'the sound thereof, 
but canst not tell whence it comes, or whither it tcoes. 
When the Spirit of life is to enter into the dry bones, 
the i)rophet is bid to prophesy unto the wind; Come 
frojn the four winds, O breath, Ezek. 37. 9. And 
ihou.i^h it was not in the wind that the Lord came to 
Elijah, yet that prepared him to receive his disco- 
very of himself \\\ the still small -voice, 1 Kings 19, 
11, 12. God's way is in the whirlwind and the storm; 
(Nah. 1. 3.) and out of the whirlwind he spake to 
Job. (4.) It was a rushing mighty wind ; it was 
strong and violent, and came not only with a great 
noise, but with a great force, as if it would bear down 
all before it. This was to signify the powerful in- 
fluences and operations of the Spirit of God upon the 
minds of men, and thereby upon the world, that 
they should be mighty through God to the casting 
down of imaginations. (5.) It filled not only the 
room, but all the house, where they were sitting. 
Probably, it alamied the whole city, but, to shew 
that it was supernatural, presently fixed upon that 
particular house ; as some think the wind that was 
sent to arrest Jonah, affected only the ship that he 
was in, (Jon. 1. 4.) and as the wise men's star stood 
over the house where the child was. This would 
direct the people who observed it, whither to go, to 
mquire tlie meaning of it. This wind filling the 
home, would strike an awe upon the disciples, and 
help to ]jut them into a very serious, reverend, and 
composed fnime, for the receiving of the Holv 
Ghost. Thus the convictions of the Spirit make 
way for his comforts ; and the rough blasts of that 
blessed wind prepare the soul for its soft and gentle 
gales. 

2. Here is a visible sign of the gift they were to 
receive. They saw cloven tongues, like as of fire ; 
{v. 3. ) and it sat — \%a^irt, not they sat, those cloven 
tongues, but he, that is, the Spirit, (signified there- 
by,) rested upon each of them, as he is said to rest 
upon the prophets of old. Or, as Dr. Hammond 
describes it, «« There was an appearance of some- 
thini: like flaming fire, lighting on every one of them, 
which divided asunder, and so formei the resem- 



blance. of tongues, with that part of them that was 
next their heads, divided or cloven." The flame of 
a candle is somewhat like a tongue : and there is a 
meteor which naturalists call ignis lambens — a gen- 
tle Jlame, not a devouring fire ; such was this. Ob- 
serve, 

(1.) There was an outward sensible sign, for the 
confirming of the faith of the disciples themselves, 
and for the convincing of others. Thus the pro- 
phets of old had frequently their first mission con- 
firmed by signs, that all Israel might know them to 
be established prophets. 

(2. ) The sign given was fire, that John Biiptist's 
saying concerning Christ might be fulfilled, lu shall 
baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with Jire: 
with the Holy Ghost, as with fire. They were now, 
in the feast of pentecost, celebrating the memorial 
of the giving of the law upon mount Sinai ; and as 
that was given in fire, and therefore is called ?l fiery 
law, so is the gospel. Ezekiel's mission was con- 
firmed by a vision of burning coals of Jire, {ch. 1, 
13.) and Isaiah's by a coal of five touching his lips, 
ch. 6. 7. The Spirit, like fire, melts the heart, 
separates and bums up the dross, and kindles pious 
and devout aflfections in the soul, in which, as in the 
fire upon the altar, the spiritual sacrifices are offered 
up. This is that fire which Christ came to send 
upon the earth. Luke 12. 49. 

(3.) This fire appeared m cloven tongues. The 
operations of the Spirit were many ; that of speak- 
ing with divers tongues was one, and was singled out 
to be the first indication of the gift of the Holy Ghost, 
and to that this sign had a reference. [1.] They 
were tongues ; for from the Spirit we have tlie word 
of God, and by him Christ would speak to the world, 
and he gave the Spirit to the disciples, not only to 
endue them with knowledge, but to endue them with 
a power to publish and proclaim to the world what 
they knew ; for the dispensation of the Spirit is given 
to every man to profit withal. [2. ] These tongues 
were cloven, to signify that God would hereby 
divide unto all nations the knowledge of his grace, 
as he is said to have divided to them by his provi- 
dence the light of the heavenly bodies, Deut. 4. 19. 
The tongues were divided, and yet they still con- 
tinued all of one accord; for there may be a sincerity 
of affections, where yet there is a diversity of ex- 
pression. Dr. Lightfoot observes, that the dividing 
of tongues at Babel, was the casting off of the hea- 
then ; for when they had lost the language in which 
alone God was spoken of and preached, the\- utterly 
lost the knowledge of God and religion, and fell into 
idolatry. But now, after above two thousand years, 
God, by another dividing of tongues, restores the 
knowledge of himself to the nations. 

(4.) This fire sat upon them for some time, tj 
show the constant residence of the Holy Ghost with 
them. The prophetic gifts of old were conferred 
sparingly and but vXsome times,'hut the disciples of 
Christ had the gifts of the Spirit always with them ; 
though the sign, we may suppose, soon disap])eared. 
Whether these flames of fire passed from one to an- 
other, or whether there were as many flames as 
there were persons, is not certain. But thev must 
be strong and bright flames, that would be visible 
in the day-light, as it now was, for the day v/as fully 
come. 

III. What was the immediate efltct of this ? 
1. They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more 
plentifully and powerfully than they were before. 
They were filled with the graces of the Sj)irit, and 
were more than ever under his sanctifying influ- 
ences ; were now holy, and heavenly, and spiritual, 
more weaned from this world, and better acquaintccl 
with the other. They were more filled with the 
comforts of the Spirit, rejoiced more than ever in 
the love of Christ and the hope of heaven, and ii- it 



THE ACTS, II. 



17 



all their griefs and fears were swallowed up. They 
were also, for the proof of this, filled with the gifts 
of the Holy Ghost, which is especially meant here ; 
they were endued with miraculous powers for the 
furtherance of the gospel. It seems evident to me, 
that not the twelve apostles only, but all the hundred 
and twenty disciples, werejil/edivith the Holy Ghost 
alike at this time ; all the seventy disciples, who 
were apostolical men, and employed in the same 
work, and all the rest too that were to preach the 
gospel; for it is said expressly, (Eph. 4. 8, 11.) 
When C/frist ascended on high, (which refers to this, 
V. 33. ) he gave gifts tinto men, not only some afios- 
tles, such were the twelve; hnX. some firofihets, and 
some evangelists, such were many of the seventy 
disciples, itinerant preachers, and some pastors and 
teachers settled in particular churches, as we may 
suppose some of these afterward were. The all 
here, must refer to the all that were together, ch. 
1. 14, 15.— V. 1. 

2. They began to sfieak with other tongues, be- 
side their native language, though they had never 
learned any other. They spake not matters of 
common conversation, but the word of God, and the 
praises of his name, as the Spij'it gave them utter- 
ance, or gave them to speak, iTr^'^^iyyuj-^nt — to speak 
apophthegms, substantial and weighty sayings, wor- 
thy to be had in remembrance. It is probable that 
it was not only one that was enabled to speak one 
language, and another another, (as it was with the 
several families that were dispersed from Babel,) 
but that every one was enabled to speak divers lan- 
guages, as he should have occasion to use them. 
And we may suppose that they imderstood not only 
themselves, but one another too, which the Builders 
of Babel did not. Gen. 11. 7. They did not speak 
here and there a word of another tongue, or stam- 
mer out some broken sentences; but spake it as 
readily, properly, and elegantly, as if it had been 
their mother-tongue ; for whatever was produced 
by miracle, was the best of the kind. They spake 
not from any previous thought or meditation, but as 
the Spirit gave them utterance ; he furnished them 
with the matter as well as the language. Now this 
was, (1.) A very great miracle, it was a miracle 
upon the mind, (and so had most of the nature of a 
gospel-miracle,) for in the mind words are framed. 
They had not only never learned these languages, 
but had never learned any foreign tongue, which 
might have facilitated these ; nay, for aught that 
appears, they had never so much as heard these 
languages spoken, or had any idea of them. They 
were neither scholars nor travellers ; nor had had 
any opportunity of learning languages either by 
books or conversation. Peter indeed was forward 
enough to speak in his owti tongue ; but the rest of 
them were no spokesmen, nor were they quick of 
appreliension ; yet now not only the heart of the rash 
understands knowledge, but the tongue of the stam- 
merers is ready to s/ieak elegantly, Isa. 32. 4. When 
Moses complained, / am slow of speech, God said, 
/ nvill be with thy inouth, and Aaron shall be thy 
sfiokesman. But he did more for these messengers 
of his ; he that made man's mouth, new made theirs. 
(2.) A very proper, needful, and serviceable mira- 
cle. The language the disciples spake, was Syriac, 
a dialect of the Hebrew ; so that it was necessary 
that they should be endued with the gift, both for 
the understanding of the original Hebrew of the Old 
Testament, in which it was written, and of the origi- 
nal Greek of the New Testament, in which it wa'fe 
to be written. But that -vi^as not all ; they were com- 
missioned to preach the gospel to every' creature, to 
disciple all nations. But here is an insuperable 
difficulty at the threshold ; How shall they master 
the several languages so as to speak intelligibly to 
all nations ? It will be the work of a man's life to 

Vol. VI.— C 



learn their languages. And therefore to prove that 
Christ could give authority to preach to the nations, 
he gives ability to preach to them in their own lan- 
guage. And it should seem, that this was the ac- 
complishment of that promise which Christ made 
to his disciples, (John 14. 12.) Greater works than 
these shall ye do. For, this may well be reckoned, 
all things considered, a greater work than the mi- 
raculous cures Christ wrought ; Christ himself did 
not speak with other tongues, nor did he enable his 
disciples to do it while he was with them ; but it was 
the first effect of the pouring out of the Spirit upon 
them. And Archbishop Tillotson thinks it proba- 
ble, that if the conversion of infidels to Christianity 
were now sincerely and vigorously attempted by 
men of honest minds, God would extraordinarily 
countenance such an attempt with all fitting assist- 
ance, as he did the first publication of the gospel. 

5. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem 
Jews, devout men, out of every nation un- 
der heaven. 6. Now when this was noised 
abroad, the multitude came together, and 
were confounded, because that every man 
heard them speak in his own language. 7. 
And they were all amazed and marvelled, 
saying one to another. Behold, are not all 
these which speak, Galileans ? 8. And 
how hear we every man in our own tongue, 
wherein we were born ? 9. Parthians, and 
Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in 
Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappa- 
docia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10. Phrygia, 
and Pamphylia, in Eg}^pt, and in the parts 
of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of 
Rome, Jews and proselytes, 1 1 . Cretes and 
Arabians, we do hear them speak in our 
tongues the wonderful w^orks of God. 12 
And they were all amazed, and were in 
doubt, saying one to another. What mean- 
eth this ? 1 3. Others mocking said, These 
men are full of new wine. 

We have here an account of the public notice that 
was taken of this extraordinary gift, with which the 
disciples were all on a sudden endued. Observe, 

I. The great concourse of people that there was 
now at Jerusalem ; it should seem, more than usually 
was at the feast of pentecost. There were dwelling 
or abiding at Jerusalem, Jews that were devout men, 
disposed to religion, and that had the fear of God 
before their eyes, (so the word properly signifies, ) 
some of them proselytes of righteousness, that were 
circumcised, and admitted members of the Jewish 
church, others owXy proselytes of the gate, that for- 
sook idolatry, and gave up themselves to the wor- 
ship of the ti-uc God, but not to the ceremonial law ; 
some of those there were at Jerusalem now, out of 
ei'ery nation under heaven, whither the Jews were 
dispersed, or from whence proselytes were come. 
The expression is hyperbolical, denoting that there 
were some from most of the then known parts of 
the world ; as much as ever Tyre was, or London is, 
the rendezvous of trading people from all parts, 
Jerusalem at that time was of religious people from 
all parts. Now, 

1. We may here see what were some of those 
countries whence those strangers came; {v. 9, 11.) 
some from the eastern countries, as the Parthians, 
Medes, Elamites, and dwellers in Mesopotamia, the 
posterity of Shem ; from thence we come in order 
to Judea, which ought to be mentioned, because^, 



IJ 



THE ACTS, 11. 



though the language of them in Judea- was the same 
with that which the disciples spake, yet, before, 
they spake it with the north-country tone and dia- 
lect, ( Thou art a Galilean, and thy sfieech beivrays 
thee,) but now they spake it as fine as the inhabi- 
tants of Judea themselves did*. Next come the in- 
habitants of Cappadocia, Pontus, and that countiy 
about Propontis, which was particularly called ^«c, 
and these were the countiies in which those stran- 
gers were scattered, to whom St. Peter writes, 1 
Pet. 1. 1. Next come the dwellers in Phrygia and 
Pamphylia, which lay westward, the posterity of 
Japhet, as were also the strangers of Rome ; there 
were some also that dwelt in the southern pai-ts of 
Egypt, in the parts of Libya about Cyrene ; there 
were also some from the island of Crete, and some 
from the deserts of Arabia ; but they were all either 
Jews originally, dispersed into those countries; or 
proselytes to the Jewish religion, but natives of those 
countries. Dr. Whitby observes, that the Jewish 
writers about this time, as Philo-and Josephus, speak 
of the Jews as dwelling every where through the 
whole earth; and that there is not a fieo/ile upon 
earth among whom some Jews do not inhabit. 

2. We may inquire, what brought all those Jews 
and proselytes together to Jerusalem at this ti?ne? 
not to make a transient visit thither to the feast of 
pentecost, for they are said to dtvell there; they 
took lodgings there, because there was at this time 
a general expectation of the appearing of the Mes- 
siah ; for Daniel's weeks wei'e just now expired, the 
sceptre was departed from Judah, it was then gene- 
rally thought that the kingdom of God should im- 
mediately apfiear, Luke 19. 11. This brought those 
who were most zealous and devout to Jerusalem, to 
sojourn there, that they might have an early share 
in the kingdom of the Messiah, and the blessings of 
that kingdom. 

II. The amazement which these strangers were 
seized with, when they heard the disciples speak in 
their own tongues. It should seem, the disciples 
spake in various languages, before the people of 
those languages came to them ; for it is intimated, 
(y. 6. ) that the spreading of the report of this abroad 
was it that brought the multitude together, especially 
those of different countries, who seem to have been 
more affected with this work of wonder than the in- 
habitants of Jerusalem themselves. 

1. They observe that the speakers are all Gali- 
leans, that know no other than their mother tongue ; 
{y. 7.) they are despicable men, from whom no- 
thing learned or polite is to be expected. God 
chose the weak and foolish things of the world to 
confound the wise and mighty. Christ was thought 
to be a Galilean, and his disciples really were so ; 
unlearned and ignorant men. 

2. They acknowledged that they spake intelligi- 
bly and readily their own language, (which they 
were the most competent judges of,) so right and 
exact, that none ot their own countrymen could 
speak it better; JVe hear every man in our own 
tongue wherein we were born; {y. 8.) that is, we 
hear one or other of them speak our native lan- 
guage. The Parthians hear one of them speak their 
language, the Medes hear another of them speak 
theirs; and so of the rest, v. 11. IVe do hear them 
sjieak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 
Their respective languages were not only unknown 
at Jerusalem, but, probably, despised and under- 
valued, and therefore it was not only a surprise, but 
a pleasing surprise, to them to hear the language of 
their own country spoken, as it naturally is to those 
that are strangers in a strange land. 

(1.) The things they heard the apostles discourse 
of, were the wonderful works of God, fxryAxtix t« 

♦ This is far more ingenious than probable.— Ed. 



0f» — JMagnalia Dei — the great things of God. It is 
probable that the apostles spake ot Christ, and re 
demption by him, and the grace of the gospel ; these 
are indeed the great things of God, which will be 
for ever marvellous in our eyes. 

(2.) They heard them both praise God for these 
great things and instruct the people concerning these 
things, in their ow7i tongue, accoiding as they per 
ceived the language of their hearers, or those that 
inquired of them, to be. Now though, perhaps, by 
dwelling some time at Jerusalem, they were got to 
be so much masters of the Jewish language, that 
they could have understood the meaning of the dis- 
ciples, if they had spoken that language, yet, [1.] 
This was more strange, and helped to convince their 
judgment, that this doctrine was of God ; for tongues 
were for a sign to them that believed not, 1 Cor. 
14. 22. [2.] It was more kind, and helped to en- 
gage their affections, as it was a plain indication of 
the favour intended to the Gentiles, and that the 
knowledge and worship of God should no longer be 
confined to the Jews, but the partition-wall should 
be broken down : and this is to us a plain intimation 
of the mind and will of God, that the sacred records 
of God's wonderful works should be preserved by 
all nations in their own tongue ; that the scripture? 
should be read, and public worship performed, ir 
the vulgar languages of the nations. 

3. They wonder at it, and look upon it as an asto 
nishing thing ; {y. 12.) They were all amazed, thej 
w.ere in an ecstasy, so the word is ; and they were 
in doubt what the meaning of it was, and whether it 
was to introduce the kingdom of the Messiah, which 
they were big with the expectation of ; they asked 
themselves and one another t/ uv bixot Tiro ihett — 
Quid hoc sibi vult? — Ti'hat is the tendency of this? 
Surely it is to dignify, and so to distinguish, these 
men as messengers from heaven ; and therefore, 
like Moses at the bush, they will nayi aside, and see 
this great sight. 

III. The scorn which some made of it, who were 
natives of Judea and Jenisalem, probably the Scribes 
and Pharisees, and chief priests, who always resist- 
ed the Holy Ghost ; they said, These me?i are full 
of new wine, or sweet wine ; they have drunk too 
much this festival-time, v. 13. INot that they were 
so absurd as to think that wine in the liead would 
enable men to speak languages which they never 
learned; but these, being native Jews, knew not, as 
the others did, that these were really the languages 
of other nations, and therefore took what they said 
to be gibberish and nonsense, such as drunkards, 
those fools in Israel, sometimes talk. As when they 
resolved not to believe the finger of the Sfiirit in 
Christ's miracles, they turned off with this, "He 
casteth out devils by comjjact with the prince of the 
devils ;" so when they resolved not to believe the 
voice of the Sfiirit in the apostles' preaching, they 
turned it off with this, These men are full of new 
wine. And if they called the Master of the house 
a wine-bibber, no marvel if they so call them of his 
household. 

14. But Peter, standing up with the 
eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto 
them, Ye men of Judea, and all ije that 
dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto 
you, and hearken to my words : 1 5. For 
these are not drunken, as je suppose, see- 
ing it is but the third hour of the day. 16. 
But this is that which' was spoken by the 
prophet Joel ; 1 7. And it shall come to 
pass in the last days, saith God, I w ill pour 
out of my Spirit upon all flesli : and your 



THE ACTS, II 



19 



sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and 
your young men shall see visions, and your 
old men shall dream dreams : 1 8. And on 
my servants and on my handmaidens I will 
pour out in those days of my Spirit ; and 
they shall prophesy: 19. And I will shew 
wonders in heaven above, and signs in the 
earth beneath ; blood, and fire, and vapour 
of smoke : 20. The sun shall be turned 
into darkness, and the moon into blood, be- 
fore that great and notable day of the Lord 
come : 21. And it shall come to pass, that 
whosoever shall call on the name of the 
Lord shall be saved. 22. Ye men of Israel, 
hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a 
man approved of God among you by mira- 
cles and wonders and signs, which God did 
by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves 
also know : 23. Him, being delivered by 
the determinate counsel and foreknowledge 
of God, ye have taken, and by wicked 
hands have crucified and slain : 24. Whom 
God hath raised up, having loosed the pains 
of death : because it was not possible that 
he should be holden of it. 25. For David 
speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the 
Lord always before my face, for he is on 
my right hand, that I should not be moved : 
26. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my 
tongue was glad ; moreover also my flesh 
shall rest in hope : 27. Because thou wilt 
not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou 
suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 
28. Thou hast made known to me the ways 
of life ; thou shalt make me full of joy with 
thy countenance. 29. Men and brethren, 
let me freely speak unto j^ou of the patri- 
arch David, that he is both dead and buried, 
and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 
30. Therefore being a prophet, and know- 
ing that God had sworn with an oath to 
him, that of the fruit of his loins, according 
to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit 
on his throne; 31. He seeing this before 
spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his 
soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did 
see conuption. 32. This Jesus hath God 
raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 
33. Therefore being by the right hand of 
God exalted, and having received of the 
Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he 
hath shed forth this, which ye now see and 
hear. 34. For David is not ascended into 
the heavens: but he saith himself, The 
Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my 
right hand, 35. Until I make thy foes thy 
footstool. 36. Therefore let all the house 
of Israel know assuredly, that God hath 
made that same Jesus, whom ye have cru- 
cified, both Lord and Christ. 



We have here the first fruits of the Spirit in th«' 
sermon which Peter preached immediately, direct 
ed, not to those of other nations in a strange lan- 
guage, (we are not told what answer he gave to 
those that were amazed, and said, Vl^at meaneth 
this? ) but to the Jews in the vulgar language, even 
to them that mocked, for he begins with the notice 
of that, (xj. 15.) and addresses his discourse (i?. 14.) 
to the men of Judea and inhabitants of Jerusalem ; 
but we have reason enough to think that the other 
diacifiles continued to speaK to those who understood 
them, (and therefore flocked about them,) in the 
languages of their respective countries, the wonder- 
ful ivorks of God. And it was not by Peter's 
preaching only, but that of all, or most, of the rest 
of the hundred and twenty, that three thoiisand souls 
Ti^erethat day converted, aiid added to the church; 
but Peter's sermon only is recorded, to be an evi- 
dence for him that he was thoroughly recovered 
from his fall, and thoroughly restored to the divine 
favour ; he that had sneakingly denied Christ, now 
as courageously confesses him. Observe, 

I. His introduction or preface, wherein he craves 
the attention of the auditory, or dfemands it rather ; 
Peter stood uji {y. 14.) to shew that he was not 
drunk, ivith the eleven, who concurred with him in 
what he said, and, probably, in their turns spake 
likewise to the same purport ; they that were of 
greatest authority, stood up to speak to the scoffint, 
Jews, and to confront those who contradicted ani 
blasphemed, but left the seventy disciples to speak to 
the willing proselytes from other nations, who were 
not so prejudiced, in their own language. Thus 
among Christ's ministers, some of greater gifts are 
called out to instruct those that oppose themselves, 
to take hold of sword and spear ; others of meaner 
abilities are employed in instructing those that re- 
sign themselves, and to be vine-dressers and hus- 
bandmen. Peter lifted itfi his voice, as one that was 
both well assured of, and much affected with, what 
he said, and was neither afra.id nor ashamed to own 
it. He applied himself to M^ 77ien of Judea, avifeu 
'luSatoi — the men that ivere Jews ; so it should be 
read ; " And you especially that dwell at Jerusalem, 
who were accessary to the death of Jesus, be this 
known unto you, which you did not know before, 
and which you are concerned to know now, and to 
hearken to my words, who would draw you to Christ, 
and not to the words of the Scribes and Pharisees, 
that would draw you from him. My Master is gone, 
whose words you have often heard in vain, but shall 
hear no more as you have ^one, but he speaks to 
you by us ; hearken now to our words." 

TI. His answer to their blasphemous calumny ; (v. 
15.) " These men are not drunken, as you suftfiose. 
These disciples of Clirist, that now sfieak with other 
tongues, speak good sense, and know what they say, 
and so do these they speak to, who are led by their 
discourses into the knowledge oithe wonderful works 
of God, You cannot think they are drunk, for it is 
but the third hour of the day ;" nine of the clock in 
the moi'ning ; and before that time, on the sabbaths 
and solemn feasts, the Jews did not use to eat or 
drink : nay, ordinarily they that are drunk, are 
drunk in the night, and not' in the moniing ; those 
are besotted dininkards indeed, who, when they are 
awake, presently seek it yet again, Prov. 23. 35. 

III. His account of the miraculous efhision of the 
Spirit, which is designed to awaken them all to em- 
brace the faith of Christ, and to join themselves to 
his church. Two things he resolves it into — that it 
was the fulfilling of the scripture, and the fruit of 
Christ's resurrection and ascension, and, conse- 
quentlv, the proof of both. 

1. That it was the accomplishment of the prophe- 
cies of the Old Testament, which related to the 
kingdom of the Messiah, and therefore an evidence 



20 



THE ACTS, II. 



that that kingdom is come, and the other predictions 
of it are fulfilled. He specifies one, that cS.thep.ro- 
phet Joel, ch. 2. 28. It is observable, that though 
Peter was Jilled with the Holy Ghost, and spake with 
tongues as the Spirit gave him uttera?ice, yet he did 
not set aside the scriptures, nor think himself above 
them ; nav, much of his discourse is quotation out of 
the Old Testament, to which he appeals, and with 
which he proves what he says. Christ's scholars ne- 
ver learn above their Bible ; and the Spij-it is given 
not to supersede the scriptures, but to enable us to 
understand and improve the scriptures. Observe, 

(1.) The text itself that Peter quotes, v. 17 — 21. 
It refers to the last days, the times of the gospel, 
which are therefore called the last days, because the 
dispensation of God's kingdom among men, which 
the gospel sets up, is the last dispensation of divine 
grace, and we are to look for no other than the con- 
tinuation of that to the end of time. Or, in the last 
days, that is, a great while after the ceasing of pro- 
phecy in the Old Testament church. Or, in the day 
mimediately preceding the destruction of the Jewish 
nation, in the last days of that people, just before 
that great and notable day of the Lord, spoken of, 
T. 20. "It was prophesied of and promised, and 
therefore you ought to expect it, and not to be sur- 
prised at it ; to desire it, and bid it welcome, and 
not to dispute it, as not worth taking notice of." 
The apostle quotes the whole paragraph, for it is 
good to take the scripture entire ; now it was fore- 
told, 

[1.] That there should be a more plentiful and 
extensive effusion of the Spirit of grace from on high 
than had been ever yet. The prophets of the Old 
Testament had hecn Jilled with the Holy Ghost, and 
it was said of the people of Israel, that God gave 
them his good Spirit to instruct them, Neh. 9. 20. 
But now the Spirit shxill be poured out, not only upon 
the Jews, but upon all ,flesh. Gentiles as well as 
Jews ; though yet Peter himself did not understand 
it so, it appears, ch. 11. 17. Or, upon all Jiesh, that 
is, upon some of all ranks and conditions of men. 
The Jewish doctors taught, that the Spirit came only 
upon wise and rich men, and such as were oi the seed 
of Israel; but God will not tie himself to their 
i-ules. 

[2.] That the Spirit should be in them a Spirit of 
prophesy ; by the Spirit they should be enabled to 
toretcU things to come, and to preach the gospel to 
every creature. This power shall be given without 
distinction of sex ; not only your sons, but your 
daughters shall prophesy ; without distinction of 
age, both your young men and your old men shall 
see visions, and dream dreams, and in them receive 
divine revelations, to be communicated to the 
church ; and without distinction of outward condi- 
tion, even the scTvants and handmaids shall receive 
oi the Sfiirit, and shall prophesy, {v. 18.) or, in ge- 
neral, 7nen and women, whom Ciod calls his servants 
and ]\h handmaids. In the beginning of the age of 
prophesy in the Old Testament, there were schools 
of the prophets, and, before that, the Spirit of pro- 
phecy came upon the elders of Israel that were ap- 
pointed to the government ; but now the Spirit shall 
be poured out upon persons of inferior rank, and 
such as were not brought up in the schools of the 
/iro/iAf/,?, for the kingdom of the Messiah is to be 
purely spiritual. The mention of ;//(' daughters (z'. 
17.) and the handmaidens (v. 18.) would make one 
tliink that the women which were taken notice of, 
{rh. 1. 14.) received the extraordinary gifts of the 
Hohi Ghost, as well as the men. Pliilip, the evan- 
gelist, had four dauq-htrrs nvho did prophesy, (^ch. 
21. 9.) and therefore St. Paul, finding abundance of 
the frift.<j both of tongues and prophesy in the church 
of Corinth, saw it needful to jjrohibit women's use 
of those gifts in public, 1 Cor. 14. 26, 34. 



[3.] That one great thing which they should pro- 
phesy of should be the judgments that were coming 
upon the Jewish nation, for this was the chief thing 
that Christ himself had foretold (Matt. 24.) at his 
entrance into Jerusalem, (Luke 19. 41. ) and when he 
was going to die; (Luke 23. 29.) and these judg 
ments were to be brought upon them, to punish 
them for their contempt of the gospel, and their op- 
position to it, though it came to them thus proved, 
riiey that would not submit to the power of God'a 
grace in this wondetful effusion of his Spirit, should 
fall and lie under the /tourings out of the vials of his 
wrath. They shall break, that willnot bend. 

First, The desti-uction of Jerusalem, which was 
about forty years after Christ's death, is here called 
that great and notable day of the Lord, because it 
put a final period to the Mosaic economy ; the Le- 
vitical priesthood and the ceremonial law were 
thereby for ever abolished and done away. The 
desolation itself was such as was never brought upon 
any place or nation, either before or since. It was 
the day of the Lord, for it was the day of his ven- 
geance upon that people for crucifying Christ, and 
persecuting his ministers ; it was the year of recom- 
penses for that controversy ; yea, and for all the 
blood of the saints and martyrs, from the blood of 
righteous Jbel, Matt. 23. 35. It was a little day of 
judgment ; it was a notable day : in Joel it is called 
a terrible day, for so it Avas to men on earth ; but 
here tTrionvii, (after the Seventy, shews) a glorious, 
illustrious day, for so it was to Christ in heaven, it- 
was the epiphany, his appearing, so he himself 
spake of it. Matt. 24. 30. The desti-uction of the 
Jews was the deliverance of the christians, that were 
hated and persecuted by them ; and therefore that 
day was often spoken of by the prophets of that time, 
for the encouragement of suffering christians, that 
the Lord was at hand, the coming of the Lord drew 
nigh, the Judge stood before the door, James 5. 8, 9. 

Secondly, The terrible presages of that destruc- 
tion are here foretold ; There shall be wonders in 
heaven above, the sun turned into darkness, and the 
moon into blood ; and sig?istooin the earth beneath, 
blood and fire. Josephus, in his preface to his his- 
tory of the wars of the Jews, speaks of the signs and 
prodigies that preceded them, terrible thunders, 
lightnings and earthquakes ; there was a fiery comet 
that hung over the city for a year, and a flaming 
sword was seen pointing down upon it ; a light shone 
upon the temple and the altar at midnight, as if it 
had been noon-day. Dr. Lightfoot gives another 
sense of these presages ; The blood of the Son of 
God, the pre of the Holy Ghost now appearing, the 
vapour of the smoke in which Christ ascended, the 
sun darkened, and the moon made blood, at the time 
of Christ's passion, were all loud warnings given to 
that unbelieving people to prepare for the judgments 
coming upon them. Or, it may be applied, and very 
fitly, to the previous judgments themselves, by 
which that desolation was brcmght on. The blood 
points at the wars of the Jews with the neighbouring- 
nations, Avith the Samaritans, Syrians, and Greeks, 
in which abundaiice of blood was shed, as there was 
also in their civil wars, and the struggles of the sedi- 
tious, (as they called them,) which were very bloodv ; 
there was no peace to him that went out, oi- to him 
that came in. 77/1° pre and vapour of smoke, hci-c 
foretold, literally came to ])ass in the burning of 
their cities, and towns, and synagogues, and temple 
at last. And this turning of the sun into darkness, 
and the moon into blood, s]jeaks the dissolution of 
their government, civil and sacred, and the extin 
guishing of all their lights. 

Thirdly, The signal ])rcservation of the Lord's 
people is here promised ; {v. 21.) Whosoever shall 
call ufion the 7iame of the Lord Jesus, (which is the 
description of a tnie christian, 1 Cor. 1. 2.) shall be 



THE ACTS, II. 



21 



saved, shall escape that judgment, which shall be a 
type and earnest of everlasting salvation. In the 
destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, there 
was a remnant sealed to be hid in t/ie day of the 
Lord's anger ; and in the destruction by the Romans 
not one christian perished. They that distinguish 
themselves by singular piety, shall be distinguished 
by special preservation. And observe, the saved 
remnant are described by this, that they are a pray- 
ing people ; they call on the name of the Lord ; 
which intimates that they are not saved by any merit 
or righteousness of their own, but purely by the fa- 
vour of God, which must be sued out by prayer. It 
is the name of the Lord which they call upon, that 
is their strong toiver. 

(2. ) The application of this prophecy to the pre- 
sent event ; {iK 16.) This is that which was s/ioken 
by the Jirofihet Joel ; it is the accomplishment of 
that, it is the full accomplishment of it. This is that 
effusion of the Spirit ufion all flesh, which should 
come, and we are to look for no other, no more than 
we ai'e to look for another Messiah ; for as our Mes- 
siah ever lives in heaven, reigning and interceding 
for his church on earth ; so this Spirit of grace, the 
Advocate, or Comforter, that was given now, ac- 
cording to the promise, will, according to the same 
promise, continue with the church on earth to the 
end, and will work all its works in it and for it, and 
every member of it, ordinary and extraordinary, by 
the means of the scriptures and the ministry. 

2. That it was the gift of Christ, and the product 
and proof of his resurrection and ascension, Fi'om 
this gift of the Holy Ghost, he takes occasion to 
preach unto them Jesus; and this part of his ser- 
mon he introduces with another solemn preface ; 
{v. 22.) " Ye men of Israel, hear these vjords. It is 
a mercy that ye are within hearing of them, and it 
is your duty to give heed to them. " Words concern- 
ing Christ should be acceptable words to the men 
of Israel. Here is, 

(1. ) An abstract of the history of the life of Christ, 
V. 22. He calls him Jesus of JVazareth, because by 
that name he was generally known, but (which was 
sufficient to roll away that reproach) he was a Man 
approved of God among you, censured and con- 
demned by men, but approved of God ; God testi- 
fied his approbation of his doctrine by the power he 
gave him to work miracles : a man marked out by 
God; so Dr. Hammond reads it ; "signalized, and 
made remarkable among you that now hear me ; 
he was sent to you, set up, a glorious Light in your 
land ; you yourselves are witnesses, how he became 
famous by miracles, wonders, and signs, works 
above the power of nature, out of its ordinaiy course, 
and contrary to it, which God did by him ; that is, 
which he did by that divine power, with which he 
was clothed, and in which God plainly went along 
with him ; for no man could do such works, unless 
God were with him." See what a stress Peter lays 
upon Christ's miracles ! [1. ] The matter of fact was 
not to be denied ; " They were done in the midst of 
you, in the midst of your country, your city, your 
solemn assemblies, as ye yourselves also know. Ye 
have been eye-witnesses of his miracles ; I appeal to 
yourselves, whether ye have any thing to object 
against them, or can offer any thing to disprove 
them." [2.] The inference from them cannot be 
disputed ; the reasoning is as strong as the evidence; 
if he did those miracles, certainly God approved 
him, declared him to be, what he declared himself 
to be, the Son of God, and the Saviour of the world ; 
for the God of truth would never set his seal to a 
lie. 

(2.) An account of his death and sufferings, which 
they were witnesses of also but a few weeks ago ; 
and this was the greatest miracle of all, that a Man 
approved of God should thus seem to be abandoned 



of him ; and a Man thus approved among the peo- 
ple, and in the midst of them, should be thus aban- 
doned by them too ! But both these mysteries are 
here exjslained, {v. 23. ) and his death considered, 

[1.] As God's act ; and in him it was an act of 
wonderful grace and wisdom. He delivered him to 
death; not only permitted him to be put to death, 
but gave liim up, devoted him; this is explained 
Rom. 8. 32. He delivered him up for us all. And 
yet he was approved of God, and there was nothing 
in this that signified the disapproving of him ; for it 
was done by the determinate counsel and foreknow- 
ledge of God, in infinite wisdom, and for holy ends, 
which Christ himself concurred in, and in the means 
leading to them. Thus divine justice must be satis- 
fied, sinners saved, God and man brought together 
again, and Christ himself glorified. It was not only 
according to the will -of God, but according to the 
counsel of his will, that he suffered and died ; ac- 
cording to an eternal counsel, which could not be 
altered. This reconciled him to the cross. Father, 
thy will be done ; and Father, glorify thy name ; let 
thy purpose take effect, and let the great end of it 
be attained. 

[2.] As the people's act ; and in them it was an 
act of prodigious sin and folly ; it was fighting 
against God, to persecute one whom he approved 
as the Darling of heaven; 2lV\A fighting against their 
own jnercies, to persecute one that was the greatest 
Blessing of this earth. Neither God's designing it 
from eternitjr, nor his bringing good out of it to eter- 
nity, would in the least excuse their sin ; for it was 
their voluntary act and deed, from a principle mo- 
rally evil ; and therefore they were wicked hands 
with which ye have crucified and slain him. It is 
probable that some of those were here present, who 
had cried. Crucify him, crucify him ; or had been 
otherwise aiding and abetting in the murder ; and 
Peter knew it. Ho^yever, it was justly looked upon 
as a national act, because done both by the vote of 
the great council and by the \o\ce of the great 
crowd. It is a rule, Refertur ad universos quod 
pub lice fit per majorem partem — We attribute to 
all, that which is done publicly by the greater part. 
He charges it particularly on them as parts of the 
nation on which it would be visited, the more ef- 
fectually to bring them to faith and repentance, be- 
cause that was the only way to distinguish them 
selves from the guilty, and discharge themselves 
from the guilt. 

(3.) An attestation of his resurrection, which ef 
fectually wiped away the reproach of his death ; {y 
24.) TVhojn God raised 2ip ; the same that delivered 
him to death, delivered him /row? death, and there- 
by gave a higher approbation of him than he had 
done by any other of the signs and wonders wrought 
by him, or by all put together. This therefore he 
insists most largely upon. 

[1.] He describes his resurrection; God loosed 
the bands of death, because it was impossible that he 
should be holden of it ; zH^tt^ — the sorrows of death ; 
the word is used for travailing pains ; and some 
think it signifies the trouble and agony of his soul, in 
which it was exceeding sorrowful, even to the death ; 
from these pains and sorrows of soul, this travail of 
soul, the Father loosed him, when at his death, he 
said, /;■ is finished. Thus Dr. Goodwin understands 
it : " Those terrors which made Heman^s soul lie 
like the slain, (Ps. 88. 15.) these had hold of Christ; 
but he was too strong for them, and broke through 
them ; this was the resurrection of his soul, (and it 
is a great thing to bring a soul out of the depths of 
spiritual agonies,) this was not leaving his soul in 
hell ; as that which follows, that he should not see 
coTruption, speaks of the resurrection of his body ; 
and both together make up the great resurrection." 
Dr. Lightfoot gives another sense of this : " Having 



22 



THE ACTS, 11. 



aissolved the fiains of death, in reference to all that 
believe in him, God raised up Chrint, and by his re- 
surrection broke all the power of death, and de- 
stroyed its pangs upon his own people. He has 
abolished death, has altered the property of it, and 
because it was not possible that he should be long 
holden of it, it is not possible that they should be for 
ever holden. " But most refer this to the resurrec- 
tion of Christ's body. And death, (says Mr. Bax- 
ter,) as a separation between soul and body, is by 
privation a penal state, though not dolorous by po- 
sitive evil. But Dr. Hammond shews, that the 
Septuagint, and from them the apostle here, uses 
the word for cords and bands, (as Ps. 18. 4.) to 
which the metaphor of loosing and being held best 
agree. Christ was imprisoned for our debt, was 
thrown into the bands of death; but divine justice 
being satisfied, it was not possible he should be de- 
tained there, either by right or by force ; for he had 
life in himself, and in his own power, and had con- 
quered the prince of death. 

[2.] He attests the truth of his resurrection ; {v. 
32.) God hath raised him up, whereof we are all wit- 
nesses ; we apostles, and other our companions, that 
were intimately acquainted with him before his 
death, were intimately conversant with him after 
his resurrection, did eat and drink with him. They 
received power, by the descent of the Holy Ghost 
upon them, on purpose that they might be skilful, 
faithful, and courageous witnesses of this thing, not- 
withstanding their being charged by his enemies as 
having stolen him away. 

[3.] He shewed it to be the fulfilling oi the scrip- 
ture, and, because the scripture had said that he 
vtust rise again before he saw corruption, therefore 
// was impossible that he should be holden by death 
and the grave; for David speaks of his being raised, 
so it comes in, v. 25. The scripture he refers to, is 
that of David, (Ps. 16. 8—11.) which, though in 
part applicable to David as a saint, yet refers chiefly 
to Jesus Christ, of whom David was a type. Here is. 

First, The text quoted at large, {v. 25 — 28.) for 
it was all fulfilled in him, and shews us, 

1. The constant regard that our Lord Jesus had to 
his Father in his whole undertaking ; I foresaw the 
Lord before me continually. He set before him his 
Father's glory as his end'in all ; foresaw that his 
sufferings would redound abundantly to the honour 
of God, and would issue in his own joy ; these were 
set before him, and these he had an eye to, in all he 
did and suffered ; and with the prospect of these he 
was boiTie up and carried on, John 13. 31, 32. — 17. 
4, 5. 

2. The assurance he had of his Father's presence 
and power going along with him ; " He is on my 
right hand, the hand of action, strengthening, guid- 
ing, and upholding that, that I should not be moved, 
or driven off from my undertaking, notwithstanding 
the hardships I must undergo :" this was an article 
of the covenant of redemption; (Ps. 89. 21.) Jl'ith 
him my hand shall be established, my arm also shall 
strengthen him ; and therefore he is confident the 
work shall not miscariy in his hand. If God be at 
our right hand, we shall not be moved. 

3. The cheerfulness with which our Lord Jesus 
went on in his work, notwithstanding the sorrows he 
was to pass through ; " Being satisfied that I shall 
not be moved, but the good pleasure of the Lord 
shall prosper in my hand, therefore doth my heart 
rejoice, and my tongue is glad, and the thought of 
my sorrow is as nothing to me." Note, It was a 
constant pleasure to our Lord Jesus to look to the end 
of his work, and to be sure that the issue would be 
glorious ; so well pleased was he with his undertak- 
ing, that it does his heart good to think how the is- 
sue would answer the design ! He rejoiced in spirit, 
Luke 10. 21. Mij tongue was glad. In the psalm 



it is, jV/y glory rejoiceth ; which intimates, that our 
tongue is our glory, the faculty of speaking is an 
honour to us, and never more so, than when it is em- 
ployed in praising God. Christ's tongue was glad, 
lor when he was just entering upon his sufferings, in 
the close of his last supper, he sang a hy?nn. 

4. The pleasing prospect he had of the happy is- 
sue of his death and sufferings ; this was it that car- 
ried him, not only with courage, but with cheerful- 
ness, through them ; he was putting off the body, 
but my flesh shall rest; the grave shall be to the 
body, while it lies there, a bed of repose, and hope 
shall give it a sweet repose ; it shall rest in hope, on, 
that t/iou wilt not leave my soul in hell ; what fol- 
lows is the matter of his hope, or assurance rather: 

(1.) That the soul shall not continue in a state of 
separation from the body ; for, beside that that is 
some uneasiness to a human soul made for its body, 
it would be the continuance of death's triumph over 
him who was in truth a Conqueror over death ; 
'• Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell ;" (in hades, 
in the invisible state, so hades properly signifies ;) 
"but, though thou suffer it for a time to remove 
thither, and to remain there, yet thou wilt remand 
it ; thou wilt not leave it there, as thou dost the souls 
of other men." 

(2.) That the body shall lie but a little while in the 
grave ; Thou wilt not suffer thy Holy One to see cor- 
ruption ; the body shall not continue dead so long, 
that it should begin to putrefy, or become noisome ; 
and therefore it must return to life, on, or before, the 
third day after its death. Christ was God's Holy 
One, sanctified and set apart to his service in the 
work of redemption ; he must die, for he must be 
consecrated by his own blood ;'h\it he must not see 
corruption, for his death was to be unto God of a 
sweet smelling savour. This was typified by the 
law concerning the sacrifices, that Jio part of the 
flesh of the sacrifices which was to be eaten, should 
be kept till the third day, for fear it should see cor- 
ruption, and begin to putrefy. Lev. 7. 15 — 18. 

(3.) That his death and sufferings should be. not 
to him only, but to all his, an inlet to the blessed im- 
mortality ; " Thou hast made known to me the ways 
of life, and by me made them known to the world, 
and laid them open." When the Father gave to the 
So7j to have life in himself, a power to lay down his 
life, and to take it again, then he shewed him the 
ways of life, both to and fro : the gates of death 
were opened to him, and the doors of the shadow of 
death, (Job 38. 17. ) to pass and repass through them, 
as his occasions led him, for man's redemption. 

(4.) That all his sorrows and sufferings should 
end in perfect and perpetual felicity ; Thou shalt 
make me fill of joy with thy countenance. The 
reward set before him, was, joy, a fulness of joy, 
and that in God's counteiuince, in the countenance 
he gave to his undci-taking, and to all those, for his 
sake, that should believe in him. The smiles with 
which the Father \'ccq\\c<\ him, when, at his ascen- 
sion, he was brought to the Jncient of days, filled 
him with joy unspeakable : and that is the jov of 
our Lord, into which all his shall enter, and in which 
thev shall be for ever happy. 

Secondly, The comment upon this text, especially 
so much of it as relates to the resurrection of Christ. 
He addresses himself to them with a title of respect. 
Men and brethren, v. 29. "You are 7ncn, and 
therefore should be ruled by reason ; you are breth- 
ren, and therefore should take kindly what is said 
to you by one who, l)eing nearly related to you, is 
heartily concerned for you, and wishes you well. 
Now, give me leave /rr^/y to speak to you concern'- 
ing the patriarch David, and let it be no offence to 
voii, if I tell you, that David cannot be understood 
hci'e as sneaking of himself, but of the Christ to 
come." ZJat'/c? is here called a patria7-ch,hrca.vs'i 



THE ACTS, II. 



23 



he wiis the father of the royal family, and a man of 
great note and eminency in his generation, and 
whose name and memory were justly very precious. 
Now when we read that psalm of his, we must con- 
sider, 

1. That he could not say that of himself, for he 
died, and was buried, and his sepulchre remained in 
Jerusalem till now, when Peter sfiake this, and his 
bones and ashes in it; nobody ever pretended that 
he had risen, and therefore he could never say of 
himself, that he should not see corruption ; for it 
was plain he did see corruption. St. Paul urees 
this, ch. 13. 35 — 37. Though he was a man after 
God's own heart, yet he went the way of all the 
earth, as he saith himself, (1 Kings 2. 2.) both in 
death and burial. 

2. Therefore certainly he spake it as a prophet, 
•with an eye to the Messiah, whose sufferings the pro- 
phets testified beforehand, and with them the glory 
that should follow ; so did David in that psalm, as 
Peter here plainly shews. 

(1.) David knew that the Messiah should descend 
from his loins, {y. 30.) that God had sworn to him, 
that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, 
he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne. He 
promised him a Son, the throne of whose kingdom 
should be established for ex<er, 2 Sam. 7. 12. And 
it is said, (Ps. 132. 11.) God swore it in truth unm 
David. When our Lord Jesus was bom, it was pro- 
mised that the Lord God would give him the throne 
of his father David, Luke 1. 32. And all Israel 
knew that the Messiah was to be the Son of David, 
that is, that, according to the Jiesh, he should be so 
by his human nature ; for otherwise, according to 
the spirit, and by his divine nature, he was to be 
David's Lord, not his son. God having sworn to 
David, that the Messiah, promised to his fathers, 
should be his Son and Successor, the Fruit of his 
loins, and Heir to his throne, he kept this in view, 
in penning his psalms. 

(2.) Christ being /^^e Fruit of his loins, and, con- 
sequently, in his loins when he penned that psalm, 
(as Levi is said to be in Abraham's loins, when he 

ijaid tithes to Melchizedefc,) if what he savs, as in 
lis own person, be not applicable to himself, (as it 
is plain that it is not,) we must conclude it points to 
that Son of his that was then in his loins, in whom 
his family and kingdom were to have their perfec- 
tion and perpetuity ; and therefore, when he savs 
that his soul should not be left in its separate state, 
nor his flesh see corruption, without doubt he must 
be understood to speak of the resurrection of Christ, 
V. 31. And as Christ died, so he rose again, according 
to the scriptures ; and that he did so, we are witnesses. 

3. Here is a glance at his ascension too. As Da- 
vid did not rise from the dead, so neither did he as- 
cend into the heavens, bodily, as Christ did, v. 34. 
And further, to prove that when he spake of the 
resurrection, he meant it of Christ, he observes that 
when in another psalm he speaks of the next step 
of his exaltation, he plainly shews that he spake of 
another person, and such another as was his Lord ; 
(Ps. 110. 1.) The L^ord said unto my Lord, when 
he had raised him from the dead, " Sit thou at my 
right hand, in the highest dignity and dominion 
there ; be thou intrusted with the administration of 
the kingdom both of providence and grace ; sit there 
as King until I make thy foes either thv friends or 
thy footstool," V. 35. Christ rose from the grave to 
rise higher, and therefore it must be of his resur- 
rection tliPt David spake, and not his own, in the 
16th Psalm ; for there was no occasion for him to 
rise out of his grave, who was not to ascend to heaven. 

We now come to the application of this discourse 
concerning the death, resurrection, and ascension of 
( 'hrist. 

1.) This explains the meaning of the present 



wonderful effusion of the Spirit in these extraordi- 
nary gifts. Some ot the people had asked, (v. 12.) 
What meaneth this? I will tell you the meaning of 
it, says Peter. This Jesus being exalted to the right 
hand of God ; so some read it, to sit there ; exalted 
by the right hand of God ; so we read it, by his 
power and authority, it comes all to one ; and having 
received of the Father, to whom he is ascended, the 
promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath given what he 
received, (Ps. 68. 18.) und hath shed forth this which, 
you now see and hear; for the Holy Ghost was to 
be given when Jesus was glorified, rind not before, 
John 7. 39. You see and hear us speak with tongues 
that we never learned ; probably, there was an ob- 
servable change in the air of their countenances, 
which they saw, as well as heard the change of 
their voice and language ; now this is from the 
Holy Ghost, whose coming is an evidence that Je- 
sus is exalted, and he has received this gift from the 
Father, to confer it upon the church, which plainly 
speaks him to be the Mediator or middle Person be- 
tween God and the church. The gift of the Holy 
Ghost was, [1.] A performance of divine promises 
already made ; here it is called the promise cf the 
Holy Ghost ; many exceeding great and precious 
promises the divine power has given us, but this is 
the promise, by way of eminency, as that of the 
Messiah had been, and this is the promise that in- 
cludes all the rest; hence God's giving the Holy 
Spirit to them that ask him, (Luke 11. 13.) is his 
giving them all good things. Matt. 7. 11. Christ 
received the promise of the Holy Ghost, that is, the 
promised gift of the Holy Gliost, and has given it 
to us ; for all the firomises are yea and amen in him. 
[2.] It was a pledge of all divine favours further in- 
tended ; what yovi now see and hear, is but an ear- 
nest of greater things. 

(2. ) This proves what you are all bound to be- 
lieve, that Christ Jesus is the true Messiah and Sa- 
viour of the world ; this he closes his sermon with, 
as the conclusion of the whole matter, the quod erat 
demonstrandum — the truth to he demonstrated ; (i;. 
36.) Therefore let all the house of Israel know as- 
suredly, tliat this truth has now received its full con- 
firmation, and we our full commission to publish it. 
That God has made that same Jesus, whom lie have 
crucified, both Lord and Christ. Thev were charged 
to tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ, till after 
his resurrection; (Matth. 16. 20. — 17. 9.) but now 
it must be proclaimed on the house-tops, to all the 
house of Israel ; he that has ears to hear, let hiiu 
hear it ; it is not /proposed as probable, but rfrposed 
as certain ; Let them know it assuredly, and know 
that it is their duty to receive it a^ a faithful saying, 
[1.] That God has glorified him whom they have 
crucified. This aggravates their wickedness, that 
they crucified one whom God designed to glorify ; 
and put him to death as a deceiver, who had given 
such pregnant proofs of his divine mission : and it 
magnifies the wisdom andpower of God, that though 
they crucified him, and thought thereby to have put 
him under an indelible mark of infamy, yet God had 
glorified him, and the indignities thev had done him, 
served as a foil to his lustre. [2. ] That he has glo- 
rified him to that degree, as to make him both Lord 
and Christ : these signify the same ; he is Lord of 
all, and he is not a usurper, but is Christ anointed 
to be so. He is one Lord to the Gentiles, who had 
had lords many ; and to the Jews he is Alessiah, which 
includes all his oflfices. He is the King Messiah, as 
the Chaldee-paraphrast calls him ; or as the angel 
to Daniel, Messiah the Prince, Dan. 9. 25. This is 
the great truth of the gospel which we are to be- 
lieve, that that same Jesus, the very same that was 
crucified at Jerusalem, is he to whom we owe alle- 
giance, and from whom we are to expect protec- 
tion, as Lord and Christ. 



THE ACTS, II. 



37. Now when they heard this they 
were pricked in their heart, and said unto 
Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men 
and brethren, what shall we do ? 38. Then 
Peter said unto them. Repent, and be bap- 
tized every one of you in the name of Je- 
sus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye 
shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 
39. For the promise is unto you, and to 
your children, and to all that are afar off, 
even as many as the Lord our God shall 
call. 40. And with many other words did 
he testify and exhort, saying. Save your- 
selves from this untoward generation. 41. 
Then they that gladly received his word 
were baptized: and the same day there 
were added unto them about three thousand 
souls. 

We have seen the wonderful effect oithejiouring 
^ut of the Spirit, in its influence upon t'He'preachers 
of the jjospel. Peter, in all his life, never spake at 
the ratethat he had done now, with such tulness, 
perspicuity, and power. We are now to see ano- 
ther blessed fruit of the pouring out of the Spirit, 
in its influence upon the hearers of the gospel ; from 
the first delivery of that divine message, it appeared 
that there was a divine poiver going along ivith it, 
and it ivas mighty, through God, to do wonders; 
thousands ivere immediately brought by it to the 
obedience of faith ; it was the rod of God's strength 
seTrt~out'6f''Zion, Ps. 110. 2, 3. We have here the 
first fruits of that vast harvest of souls, which by it 
were gathered into Jesus Christ. Come and see, in 
these \-erses, the exalted Redeemer riding forth, in 
these chariots of salvation, conquering, and to con- 
quer, Rev. 6. 2. 

In these verses we find the Avord of God, the 
means of beginning and carrying on a good work of 
grace in the hearts of ?nani/, the S/iirit of the Lord 
pjorking by it. Let us see'the method of it. 
Q I. TViey TJere startled, and convinced, and put 
upon a serious inquiry, v. 37. When they heard, or 
having heard, having patiently heard Peter out, and 
not given him the interruption they had been used 
to give to Christ in his discourses, (this was one 
good point gained, that they were become attentive 
to the word,) they luere pricked to the heart, or in 
the hnirt, and, u'ncler a deep concern and pei']:)lexity, 
applied tliemsclves to the preacher with this ques- 
tion, JVhut shall Kve do? It was very strange that 
such impressions sliould be made upon such hard 
hearts all of a sudden ! They were Jews, Ijrcd up 
in the oi)inion of the sufficiency of their religion to 
save them, liad lately seen this Jesus crucified in 
weakness and disgrace, and were told by their ru- 
lers that he was a deceiver; Peter had charged 
them with having a hand, a wicked hand, in "his 
death, wliich was likely to have exasperated them 
against him ; yet, ivhen they heard this ])lain scrip- 
tuml sermon, they were much affected with it. 
nj It iHit them' in pain ; they were pricked in 
timr htfaris- We i-ead of those that were cut to the 
fteart with indignation at the preacher, (ch. 7. 54. ) 
but these were pricked to the heart with indigna- 
tion at tliemselyes for having been accessary to the 
death of Christ. Peter, charging it u])on them, 
awakened their consciences, touched them to the 
quick, and the reflection they now made upon it, was 
as a sword in their bones, it jiierced them as they 
had pferced Christ. Note, Sinners, when their eyes 
are opened, cannot but be pricked to the hfarl for 



sin, cannot but experience an inward uneasiness; 
this is having the heart rent, (Joel 2. 13.) a broken 
and contrite heart, Ps. 51. 17. Those that aretyuly 
snrrv tor their sins, and ashamed^of them, and afraid 
oT'ttae consequences of them, are pricked to the 
heart. A prick in the heart is mortal, and under 
those commotions (says Paul) I died, Rom. 7. 9. 
"All my good opinion of myself and confidence in 
nw^elf failed me." , 

^\ It put them upon inquiiy. Out of the abund- 
ance o/ the heart, thus pricked, tlie mouth spake. 
Observe, 

(1.) To whom thus they addressed themselves; 
to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, some to one 
arid some to another, to them they opened their 
case ; by them they had been convinced, and there- 
fore by them they expect to be counselled and com- 
forted. They do not appeal from them to the Scribes 
and Pharisees, to justify them against the apostles' 
charge, but ap])ly to them, as owning the charge, 
and referring the case to them. They call them 
''B&h^J^^.hreihren , as Peter had called them ; {v. 
29.) it is a style of friendship and love, rather than 
a title of honour ; " You are men, look upon us with 
humanity ; you are brethren, look upon us with bro- 
therly love." Note, Ministers are spiritual _ phy- 
sicians, they should be advised AvrtTTbythose whose 
consciences are wounded ; and it is good for people 
to be free and familiar with those ministers, as men 
and their brethren, who deal for their souls as for 
their own. 

(2. ) What the address is ; What shall we do ? 

[1.] They speak as men at ci plunge, that did not 
know what to do ; in a perfect suiprise ; " Is that 
Jqsus, whom we have crucified, both Lord and 
Christ? Then what will become of us who cruci- 
fied him ? We are all undone!" Note, No way. 
of being happy, but by seeing o)irselves miserable. 
\^'Tien we find ourselves in danger of being lost for 
ever, there is hope of our being made /or ever, and 
not till then. 

[2.] They speak as men at a point, that were re- 
solved to do any thing they slTalI"be directed to, im- 
mediately ; they are not for taking time to consider, 
or for adjourning the prosecution of their convic- 
tions to a more convenient season, but desire now to 
be told what they must do to escape the misery they 
were liable to. Note, Those that are convinced of 
sin, would gladly know the way to peace and par- 
don, ch. 9. 6.— 16. 30. 

r II. Peter and the apostles direct them in short 
what they must do, and what in so doing they might 
expect, V. 38, 39. Sinners convinced must be en- 
couraged ; and that which is broken must be bound 
up; (Ezek. 34. 16. ) they must be told that though 
their case is sad, it is not desperate, there is hope 
foi2.-them. 

■\J He here shews them the course they must 
talce. 

(!•) ^Sli£.ntj that is a plank after sliipwreck. 
"Let tlie sense of this horrid guilt wliich you have 
brought upon yourselves l)y putting Christ to death, 
awaken you to a penitent reflection upon all your 
otiref sins, as the dcmahd'of some one great debt 
l)rings to light all the debts of a poor bankrupt, and 
to bitter remorse and sorrow for them." This was 
the same duty that John the Baptist and Christ had 
preached, and now that the Spirit is poured out, it 
is still insisted on; *' Rtji^nt, repent; change your 
mind, change your way ; admit an after-thought." 

(2.) Be baptized every one of you in the name of 
Jesus Christ, that is, " firmly believe the doctrine of 
Christ, and submit to his grace and government ; 
and make an open solemn profession of this, and 
come under an engagement to al)ide by it, by sub- 
mitting to the ordinance of bajitism ; be proselvted 
to Christ /nd to his holy religion, and renounce your 



THE AC.TS, II. 



'JA 



Infidelity. " They must be baptized in the name of j 
Jesus Christ. They did believe in the Failier anS. 
the Holy Ghost sneaking by the prophets"; but they 
must also believe n the name of Jesus, that he is the 
Christ, the Messias promised to the Fathers ; «*Take 
Jesus for your King, and by baptism swear allegiance 
to him ; take him for your Prophet, and hear him ; 
take him for your Priest, to make atonement for 
you;" which seems peculiarly intended here; for 
they must be baptized in his name for the remission 
of, sins upon the score of his righteousness. 

(3. ) This is pressed upon each particular person, 

every onejof_ysiu ; "Even those of you that have 

heentKe'greatest sinners, if they repent and believe, 

fare welcome tobe baptized; and those that think 

' they have been the greatest saints, have yet need to 

repent, and believe, and be baptized. There is grace 

i enough in Christ for every one of you, be ye ever so 
many, and grace suited to the case of every one. Is- 
rael of old were baptized unto Moses in the camp, 
the whole body of the Israelites together, when they 
passed through the cloud and the sea, (1 Cor. 10. 1, 
2.) for th"e"covenant of peculiarity was national ; but 
now every one of you distinctly must be baptized in 
the name of the Lord Jesus, and transact for him- 
self in this great affair." See Col. 1. 28. 
(2^^ He gives them encouragement to take that 

cotirse: ^" '" 

(1.) "It shall be {or the remission of sins. Re- 

Eent of your sin, and it shall"Tiot be your ruin ; be 
aptized into the faith of Christ, and in truth you 
sliall be justified, which you could never be by the 
law of Moses. Aim at this, and depend upon Christ 
for it, and this you shall have. As the cup of the 
Lord's supper is the JVeiv Testament in the blood of 
Christ for the remission, of sins, so baptism ig in the 
name of Christ for the remission of sins. Be washe3, 
ajid you shalFbe washed." 

(2.) "You shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost 
as well as we; for it is designed for a general blessing: 
some of you shall receive these external gifts, and 
each of you, if you be sincere in your faith and re- 
pentance, shall receive his internal graces and com- 
forts, shall be sealed with the Holy Sfiirit of promise. " 
Note, All that receive the remission of sins, receive 
the gifi^of the Holy Ghost. All" that are justified, 
are sanctified. 

(3.) " Your children shall still have, as they have 
had, an interest in the covenant, and a title to the 
external seal of it. Come over to Christ, to receive 
those inestimable benefits ; for the promise of the 
remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, is 
to you and to your children," v. 39. It was very 
express, (Isa. 44. 3.) Iwill fiourmy Sfiirit upon thy 
seed. And, (Isa. 59. 21.) My Sfiirit and my word 
shall not depart from thy seed, and thy seed's seed. 
When God took Abraham into covenant, he said, 
I will be a God to thee, and to thy seed ; (Gen. 17. 
7. ) and, accordingly, every Israelite had his son cir- 
cumcised at eight days old. Now it is proper for an 
Israelite, when he is by baptism to come into a new- 
dispensation of this covenant, to ask, " What must 
be done with my children ? Must they be thrown 
out, or taken in with me ?" " Taken in," (says Pe- 
ter,) "by all means; for the promise, that great 
promise, of God's being to you a God, is as much 
to you and to your children now as ever it was. " 

(4. ) "Though the promise is still extended to your 
children as it has been, yet it is not, as it has been, 
confined to you and them, but the benefit of it is de- 
signed for all that are afar off," we may add, and 
\ their children, for the blessing of Abraham comes 
upon the Gentiles, through Jesus Christ, Gal. 3. 14. 
Th"* promise had long pertained to the Israelites ; 
(Rom. 9. 4. ) but now it is sent to those that are afar 
off, the remotest nations of the Gentiles, and every 
one of them too, all that are afar off. To this gene- 

Vol. VI.— D 



ral the following limitation must refer, even as many 
of them, as many particular persons in each nation. 
?iS the Lord our God shall call effectually into the 
fellowship of Jesus Christ. Note, God can make 
his call to reach those that are ever so far off, and 
none come but whom he calls. 

III. These directions are followed with a needful 
caution ; {v. 40. ) With many other words to the 
same purport, did he testify gospel-truths, and ex- 
hort to gospel- duties ; now that the word began to 
work he followed it ; he had said much in a little, 
{v. 38, 39.) and that which, one would think, in- 
cluded all, and yet he had more to say. When we 
have heard those words which have done our souls 
good, we cannot but wish to hear more, to hear ma- 
ny more such words. Among other things he said, 
(and it should seem inculcated it,) Save yourselves 
from this untoward generation. Be ye free from 
them. The unbelieving Jews were an untoward ge- 
neration, perverse and obstinate, they walked con- 
trary to God and man, (1 Thess. 2. 15.) wedded to 
sin and marked for i-uin. Now as to them, 

1. " Give diligence to save yourselves from the 
ruin, that you may not be involved in that, and may 
escape all those things ;" (as the christians did ;) 
"repent, a7id be baptized ; and then you shall not 
be sharers with them in desti-uction, whom you 
have been sharers with in sin." O gather not my 
soul with sinners. 

2. "In order to this, continue not with them in 
their sin, persist not with them in infidelity. Saxc 
yourselves, that is, separate yourselves, distinguish 
yourselves, from this iintoward generation. Be not 
rebellious like this rebellious house ; partake not with 
them in their sins, that you share not with them in 
their plagues. " Note, To separate ourselves from 
wicked people, is the only way to save ourselves 
from them ; though we thereby"expcse ourselves to 
their rage and enmity, we really save ourselves from 
them ; for if we consider whither they are hasten- 
ing, we shall see it is better to have the trouble of 
swimming against their stream than the danger of 
being carried down their stream. Those that re- 
pent of their sins, and give up themselves to Jesus 
Christ, must evidence their sincerity by breaking 
off all intimate society with wicked people. De- 
part from me, ye evil doers, is the language of one 
that determines to kee-p the commandments of his 
God, Ps. 119. 115. We must save ourselves from 
them ; which denotes avoiding them with dread and 
holy fear, as we would save ourselves from an ene- 
my' that seeks to destroy us, or from a house in- 
fected with the plague. 

I V. Here is the happy success and issue of this, 
v. 41. The Spirit wrought with the word, and 
wrought wonders by it. These same persons that 
had many of them been eye witnesses of the death 
of Christ, and the prodigies that attended it, and 
were not wrought upon by them, were yet wrought 
upon bv the preaching of the word, for that is it 
that is the power of God unto salvation. 

1. They received the word ; and then only the 
word does us good, when we do receive it, embrace 
it, and bid it welcome. They admitted the convic- 
tion of it, and accepted the offers of it. - 

2. Thev gladly received it. Herod heard the 
word gladly, but these gladly received it, were not 
only glad that they had it to receive, but glad that 
by the grace of God they were enabled to receive it, 
though it would be a humbling changing word to 
them, and would expose them to the enmity of their 
countrymen. 

3. They were baptized ; believing with the heart, 
they made confession with the mouth, and enroll"-' 
themselves among the disciples of Christ hy lii?- 
sacred rite and ceremony which he had instuuted. 
And though Peter had said, " Be baptizet' in the 



26 

name of the Lord Jesus" (because the doctrine of 
Christ was the present truth,) yet we have reason 
to think that, in baptizing them, the whole foi-m 
Christ prescribed was used in the name of the Father, 
the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Note, Those that 
receive the christian covenant, ought to receive the 
christian baptism. 

4. Hereby there were added to the disciples to 
the number of about three thousand souls that same 
day. All those that had received the Holy Ghost, 
had their tongues at work to preach, and their hands 
at work to baptize ; for it was time to be busy, when 
such a harvest was to be gathered in. The con- 
vei-sion of these three thousand with these words, 
was a greater work than the feeding of four or 
five thousand with a few loaves. Now Israel began 
to multiply after the death of our Joseph. They 
are said to be three thousand souls, which word is 
generally used for persons when women and chil- 
dren are included with men, as Gen. 44. 21. Give 
me the souls, (Gen. 14. 27.) seventy souls, which 
intimates that those that were here baptized, were 
not so many men, but so many heads of families, as 
with their' children and servants baptized, might 
make up three thousand souls. These were added 
to them. Note, They who are joined to Christ, are 
added to the disciples of Christ, and join with them. 
When we take God for our God, we must take his 
people to be our people. 

42. And they continued steadfastly in 
the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and 
in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43. 
And fear came upon every soul : and many 
wonders and signs were done by the apos- 
tles. 44. And all that believed were to- 
gether, and had all things common ; 45. 
And sold their possessions and goods, and 
parted them to all men, as every man had 
need. 46. And they, continuing daily with 
one accord in the temple, and breaking 
bread from house to house, did eat their 
meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 
47. Praising God, and having favour with 
all the people. And the Lord added to 
the church daily such as should be saved. 

We often speak of the primitive church, and ap- 
peal to it, and to the history of it ; in these verses 
we have the history of the truly firimitive church, 
of the /?rs? days of it, its state of infancy indeed, but, 
like that, the state of its.greatest innocence. 

I. They kept close to holy ordinances, and abound- 
ed in all instances of piety and devotion, for Christi- 
anity, admitted in the power of it, will dispose the 
soul to communion with God in all those ways where- 
in he has appointed us to meet him, and promised 
to meet us. 

1. They were diligent and constant in their at- 
tendance upon the fireaching of the word. They 
continued in the afiostles' doctrine, and never dis- 
owned or deserted it ; or, as it may be read, they 
continued constant to the a/iostles' teaching orinstruc- 
tions ; by bafitism they were discipled to be taught, 
and they were willing to be taught. Note, Those 
who have given uj) their names to Christ, must make 
conscience of hearing his word ; for thereby we give 
honour to him, and build up ourselves in our most 
holy faith. 

2. They kept up the commuimn of saints. They 
continued in felLwahi/i, {v. 42.) and continued daily 
with one accord in the tem/ile, v. 46. They not 
only had a mutual affection to each other, but a 



THE ACTS, II. 



great deal of mutual conversation with each other ; ■ 
they were much together. When they withdrew 
from the untoward generation, they did not turn 
hermits, but were vei7 intimate with one another, 
and took all occasions to meet ; wherever you saw 
one discijjle, you should see more, like birds of a 
feather. See how these christians love one another. 
They were concerned for one another, sympathized 
with one another, and heartily espoused one ano- 
ther's interests. They had fellowship with one 
another in religious worship ; they met in the tem- 
ple ; there was their rendezvous ; for joint-fellow- 
ship with God is the best fellowship we can have 
with one another, 1 John 1. 3. Obsen^e, (1.) They 
were daily in the temple, not only on the days of 
the sabbaths and solemn feasts, but on other days, 
every day. Worshipping God is to be our daily 
work, and where there is opportunity, the oftener 
it is done publicly the better. God loves the gates 
of Zion, and so must we. (2. ) They were with one 
accord ; not only no discord or strife, but a great 
deal of holy love among them ; and they heartily 
joined in their public services. Though they met 
with the Jews in the courts of the temple, yet the 
Christians kept together by themselves, and were 
unanimous in their separate devotions. 

3. They frequently joined in the ordinance of the 
Lord's supper ; they continued m breaking of bread, 
in celebrating that memorial of their Master's death, 
as those that were not ashamed to own their relation 
to, and their dependence upon, Christ and him cru- 
cified. They could not forget the death of Christ, 
yet they kept up this memorial of it, and made it 
their constant practice, because it was an institution 
of Christ, to be transmitted to the succeeding ages 
of the church. They broke bread froin house to 
house; kut olitov — house by house; they did not 
think fit to celebrate the eucharist in the temple, for 
that* was peculiar to the christian institutes, and 
therefore they administered that ordinance in pri- 
vate houses, choosing such houses of the converted 
christians as were convenient, to which the neigh- 
bours resorted : and they went from one to another 
of these little synagogues or domestic chapels, houses 
that had churches in them, and there celebrated 
the eucharist with those that usually met there to 
worship God. 

4. They continued in prayer, jifter the Spirit 
was poured out, as well as before, while they were 
waiting for him, they continued instant in prayer ; 
for prayer will never be superseded till it comes to 
be swallowed up in everlasting praise. Breaking 
of bread comes in between the word and prayer, 
for it has reference to both, and is a help to Ijoth. 
The Lord's su])per is a sermon to the eye, and a 
confirmation of God's word to us ; and it is an en- 
couragement to our prayers, and a solemn expres- 
sion of the ascent of our souls to God. 

5. They abounded in thanksgiving ; were con- 
tinually praising God, v. 47. That should have a 
part in every prayer, and not be crowded into a 
corner. They that have received the gift of the 
Holy Ghost, will be much in praise. 

IL They were loving one to another, and very 
kind ; their charity was as eminent as their jjiety, 
and their joining together in holy oi-dinanccs kiiit 
their hearts to each other, and very much endeared 
them to one another. 

1. They had frequent meetings for christian con- 
verse ; (v. 44.) Jll that believed, were together; 
not all those thousands in one place ; (that was im- 
practicable ;) but, as Dr. Lightfoot explains it, they 
kept together in several companies or congregations, 
according as their languages, nations, or other re 
ferences, brought them and kept them together. 
And thus joining together, because it was a])art from 
those that believed not, and because it was in the 



f 



THE ACTS, II. 



27 



same profession and practice of the duties of religion, 
they are said to be together, iv) ro <tuli. They as- 
sociated together, and so both expressed and in- 
01 eased their mutual love. 

2. They had all things common : perhaps they 
had common tables, (as the Spartans of old,) for fa- 
miliarity, temperance, and freedom of conversation ; 
they ate together, that they svho had much might 
have the less, and so be kept from the temptations 
of abundance ; and they who had little might have 
the more, and so be kept from the temptations of 
"want and poverty. Or, there was such a concern 
for one another, and such a readiness to help one 
another, as there was occasion, that it might be said, 
They had all things common, according to the law 
of friendship, one wanted not what another had ; for 
he might have it for the asking. 

3. They were very cheerful, and veiy generous 
in the use of what they had. Beside the religion 
that was in their sacred feasts, (their breaking bread 
from house to house,) a great deal of it appeared in 
their common meals ; they did eat their meat with 
gladness and singleness of heart. They brought the 
comforts of God's table along with them to their 
own, which had two good effects upon them : (1.) 
It made them very pleasant, and enlarged their 
hearts in holy joy ; they did eat their bread with 
joy, and drank their wine with a merry heart, as 
knowing that God now acce/ited their works. None 
have such cause to be cheerful as good christians 
have ; it is pity but that they should always have 
hearts to be so. (2. ) It made them very liberal to 
their poor brethren, and enlarged their hearts in 
charity. They did eat their meat with singleness of 
heart, «/ a^iMTult ncigficn — with liberality of heart ; so 
some ; they did not eat their morsels alone, but bid 
the poor welcome to their table, not gi-udgingly, but 
with all the hearty freedom imaginable. Note, It 
becomes christians to be open-hearted and open- 
handed, and in every good work to sow plentifully, 
as those on whom God hath sowed plentifully, and 
who hope to reap so. 

4. They raised a fund for charity ; {y. 45.) They 
sold their possessions and goods ; some sold their 
lands and houses, others their stocks and the furni- 
ture of their houses, and parted the money to their 
brethren, as every man had need. This was to de- 
stroy, not property, (as Mr. Baxter says,) but self- 
ishness. Herein, probably, they had an eye to the 
command which Christ gave to the rich man, as a 
test of his sincerity, Sell that thou hast, and give to 
the floor. Not that this was intended for an exam- 
ple to be a constant binding rule, as if all christians 
in all places and ages were bound to sell their estates, 
and give away the money in charity. For St. Paul's 
epistles, after this, often speak of the distinction of 
rich and poor, and Christ hath said, that the poor vje 
have always with us, and shall have, and the rich 
must be always doing them good out of the rents, 
issues, and profits, of their estates, which they dis- 
able themselves to do, if they sell them, and give 
all away at once. But here the case was extraor- 
dinary. (1.) They were under no obligation of a 
divine command to do this, as appears by what Peter 
said to Ananias ; (cA. 5. 4.) Was it not in thine own 
power ? But it was a very commendable instance of 
their raisedness above the world, their contempt of 
it, their assurance of another world, their love to 
their brethren, their compassion to the poor, and 
their great zeal for the encouraging of Christianity, 
and the nursing of it in its infancy. The apostles 
left all to follow Christ, and were to give themselves 
wholly to the word and prayer, and something must 
be done for their maintenance ; so that this extraor- 
dinary liberality was like that of Israel in the wil- 
emess toward the bulding of the tabernacle, which 
needed to be restrained, Exod. 36. 5, 6. Our rule 



is, to give according as God hath blessed us ; yet in 
such an extraordinary case as this, those are to be 
praised, who give beyond their power, 2 Cor. 8. 3. 
(2.) They were Jews that did this, and they who 
believed Christ, must believe that the Jewish nation 
should shortly be destroyed, and an end put to the 
possession of estates and goods in it, and, in the be- 
lief of that, they sold them for the present service 
of Christ and his church. 

III. God owned them, and gave them signal to- 
kens of his presence with them ; {v. 43. ) Many 
wonders arid signs were done by the apostles of divers 
sorts, which confirmed their doctrine, and incontest- 
ably proved that it was from God. They that could 
work miracles, could have maintained themselves 
and the poor that w.ere among them miraculously, 
as Christ fed thousands with a little food ; but it was 
as much for the glory of God that it should be done 
by a miracle of grace (inclining people to sell their 
estates to do it) as if it had been done by a miracle 
in nature. 

But the Lord's giving them power to work mira- 
cles, was not all he did for them ; he added to the 
church daily. The word in their mouths did won- 
ders, and God blessed their endeavours for the in- 
crease of the number of believers. Note, It is 
God's work to add souls to the church ; and it is a 
great comfort both to ministers and christians to 
see it. 

IV. The people were influenced by it ; they that 
were without, the standers by, that Avere specta- 
tors. 

1. They feared them, and had a veneration for 
them ; {y. 43.) Fear came upon ei>ery soul, that is, 
upon very many who saw the wonders and sig7is done 
by the apostles, and were afraid lest their not being 
respected as they should be would bring desolation 
upon their nation. The common people stoc d in 
awe of them, as Hevod feared John. Though ihey 
had nothing of external pomp to command external 
respect, as the Scribes' long robes gained them the 
greetings in the market-places, yet they had abund- 
ance of spiritual gifts that were ti-uly honourable, 
which possessed men with an inward reverence for 
them. Fear came upon ez'ery soul ; the souls of 
people were strangely influenced by their awful 
preaching and living. 

2. They favoured them. Though we have reason 
to think there were those that despised them and 
hated them, (we are sure the Pharisees and chief 
priests did,) yet far the greater part of the common 
people had a kindness for them — they had favour 
with all the people. Christ was so violently run 
upon, and run down, by ^packed mob, which cried. 
Crucify him, crucify him ; that one would think his 
doctrine and followers were never likely to have an 
interest in the common people any more. And yet 
here we find them in favour with them all ; by 
which it appears that their prosecuting of Christ, 
was a sort of a force put upon them by the artifices 
of the priests ; now they returned to their wits, to 
their right mind. Note, Undissembled piety and 
charity will command respect ; and cheemilness in 
serving God will recommend religion to those that 
are without. Some read it. They had charity to all 
the peofile — x°-V^ i^ovli; wgi? Sxsv tcv xx6y ; they did 
not confine their charity to those of their own com- 
munity, but it was catholic and extensive ; and this 
recommended them very much. 

3. They fell over to them. Some or other were 
daily coming in, though not so many as the first day ; 
and they were such as should be saved. Note, 
Those that God has designed for eternal salvation, 
shall one time or other be effectually brought to 
Christ ; and those that are brought to Christ, are 
added to the church in a holy covenant by baptism, 
and in holy communion by other ordinances. 



28 



THE ACTS, III. 



CHAP. HI. 

:»■ lhi8 chapter, we liave a miracle and a sermon : the mira- 
cle wroupht to make way for the sermon, to confirm the 
doctrine that was to be preached, and to make way for it 
into the minds of the people ; and then the sermon to ex- 
plain tlie miracle, and to sow the ground which by it was 
broken up. I. The miracle was the healin<j of a man that 
was lame from his birth, with a word speaking-, (v. 1 . . 8. ) 
and the impression which this made upon the people, v. 9 . . 
II. II. The scope of the sermon which was preached here- 
upon, was, to bring people to Christ, to repent of their sin 
in crucifying him; (v. 12 .. 19.) to believe in him now 
that he was glorified, and to comply with the Father's de- 
sign in glorifying him, v. 20 . . 26. The fornier part of 
the discourse opens the wound, the latter applies the re- 
medy. 

1 . l^rOW Peter and John went up toge- 
J_^ ther into the temple at the hour of 
prayer, bciyi^ the ninth hour. 2. And a cer- 
tain man lame from his mother's womb 
was carried, whom they laid daily at the 
gate of the temple which is called Beauti- 
ful, to ask alms of them that entered into 
the temple ; 3. Who, seeing Peter and 
John about to go into the temple, asked an 
alms. 4. And Peter, fastening his eyes 
upon him, with John, said. Look on us. 5. 
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to 
receive something of them. 6. Then Peter 
said, Silver and gold have I none ; but such 
as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus 
Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7. 
And he took him by the right hand, and 
lifted him up : and immediately his feet 
and ankle-bones received strength. 8. And 
he, leaping up, stood, and walked, and en- 
tered with them into the temple, walking, 
and leaping, and praising God. 9. And all 
the people saw him walking and praising 
God. 1 0. And they knew that it was he 
which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of 
the temple : and they were filled with won- 
der and amazement at that which had hap- 
pened unto him. 1 1 . And as the lame man 
which was healed held Peter and John, 
all the people ran together unto them in 
the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly 
wondering. 

We were told in general, {ch. 2. 43.) that inany 
signs and ivonders ii<ere done by the a/iostles, which 
are not written in this book ; but here we have one 
given us for an instance. As they wrought miracles, 
not upon everv body, as every body had occasion for 
them, but as the Holy S])irit gave direction, so as to 
answer the end of their commission ; so all the mi- 
racles they did work, are not written in this book, 
but such only are recorded as the Holy Cihost 
thought fit to answer the end of this sacred history. 

I. The persons by whose ministry this miracle 
was wrought, were, Peter and John, two princii:)al 
men among the apostles ; they were so in Christ's 
time, one speaker of the house for the most j)art, 
the other favourite of the Master ; and they continue 
so. ^^'hcn, ujjon the conversion of thousands, the 
church was divided into several societies, perliajjs 
Peter and John presided in that which Luke asso- 
ciated with, and therefore he is more ])articular in 
recording what they said and did, as afterward what 



Paul said and did, when he attended him : both the 
one and the other being designed for a specimen of 
what the other apostles did. 

Peter and John had each of them a brother am^ng 
the twelve, with which they were coupled wmm 
they were sent out ; yet now they seem to be knit 
together more closely than either of them to his 
brother; for the bond of friendship is sometimes 
stronger than that of relation ; tliere is is. friend that 
sticks closer than a brotlter. Peter and John seem 
to have had a peculiar intimacy after Christ's re- 
surrection more than before, John 20. 2. The rea- 
son of which, (if I may have liberty to conjecture,) 
might be this ; that John, a disciple made up of love, 
was more compassionate to Peter upon his fall and 
repentance, and more tender of Inm in his bitter 
nveefiing for his sin, than any other of the apostles 
were, and more solicitous to restore him in the sfiirit 
of meekness ; which made him very dear to Peter 
ever after : and it was a good evidence of Peter's ac- 
ceptance with God, upon his repentance, that 
Christ's favourite was made his bosom-friend. Da- 
vid prayed, after his fall, Let them that fear thee, 
turn unto me, Ps. 119. 79. 

n. The time and place are here set down : 

1. It was in the temfile, whither Peter and John 
went up together, because it was the place of con- 
course ; there were the shoals of fish, among whom 
the net of the gospel was to be cast, especially dur- 
ing the days of pentccost, within the compass of 
which we may suppose this to have happened. 
Note, It is good to go up to the tcni])le, to attend on 
public ordinances ; and it is comfortable to go up to- 
gether to the temple ; / was glad when they said 
nnto me. Let us go. The best" society is society in 
worshipping of God. 

2. It was at the hour of prayer, one of the hours 
of public worship, commonly appointed and observ- 
ed among the Jews : time and ]ilace are two neces- 
saiy circumstances of every action, which must be 
determined bv consent, as is most convenient for 
edification. With reference to public worship, there 
must be a house of firayer, and an hour of prayer: 
the ninth hour, that is, three o'clock in the afternoon, 
was one of the hours of prayer among the Jews; nine 
in the morning, and twelve at noon, were the other 
two. See Ps. 55. 17. Dan. 6. 10. It is of use for pri- 
vate christians so far to have their hours of prayer 
as may serve, though not to bind, yet to remind, 
conscience ; every thing is beautiful in its season. 

III. The patient is here described, on whom this 
miraculous cure was wrought, t'. 2. He was a poor 
lame beggar at the temple-gate. 

1. He was a cri])])le, not bv accident so, but born 
so; he was lame from his mother''s womb, as it should 
seem, by a paralytic distcmjjer, which weakened 
his limbs ; for it is said in the dcscri])tion of his cure, 
{v. 7.) His feet and ankle-hones received strength. 
Some s\ich piteous cases now and then there are, 
which we ought to be affected with, and look upon 
with compassion, and which are designed to shew 
us what we all are by nature spiritually ; without 
strength, lame from our birth, unable to work or 
walk in God's ser\ice. 

2. He was a beggar ; being unable to work for his 
living, he must live upon alms ; such are God^s poor. 
He was laid daily by his friends at one of the gates 
of the temple, a miserable s])ectacle, unable to do 
any thing else for himself but to ask alms of them 
that eyttrred into the temple or came out. There 
was a concourse, and a concourse of devout good 
]ieoplc, fi-om whom charity might be expected, and 
a concourse of such people, when it might be hoped 
they were in the best frame ; and there he was laid. 
Those that need, and cannot work, must not be 
ashamed to I)eg. He wovdd not have been laid there, 
and laid daily there, if he had not been used to meet 



THE ACTS, 111. 



29 



wnh supplies, daily supplies there. Note, Our 
firayers and our alms should go together ; Corne- 
lius's did, cli. 10. 4. Objects of charity should be 
in a particular manner welcome to us when we go 
up to the temple to pray ; it is pity that common 
beggars at church-doors should any of them be of 
such a character as to discourage charity ; but they 
ought not always to be over-looked ; some there are 
surely that merit regard, and better feed ten drones, 
yea and some wasps, than let one bee starve. The 
gate of the tetn/Ue at which he was laid, is here 
named, it was called Beautiful, for the extraordi- 
nary splendour and magnificence of it. Dr. Light- 
foot observes, that this was the gate that led out of 
the court of the Gentiles into that of the Jews, and 
supposes that the cripple would beg only of the Jews, 
as disdaining to ask any thing of the Gentiles. But 
Dr. Whitby takes it to be at the first entrance into 
the temple, and beautified sumptuously, as became 
the frontispiece of that place where the Divine Ma- 
jesty vouchsafed to dwell ; and it was no diminution 
to the beauty of this gate, that a poor man lay thei'e 
oegging. 

3. He begged of Peter and John, (y. 3. ) begged an 
alms, that was the utmost he expected from them 
who had the reputation of being charitable men, and 
who, though they had not much, yet did good with 
what they had. It was not many weeks ago that 
the blind and the lame came to Christ in the temple, 
and were healed there. Matt. 21. 14. And why 
might not he have asked more than an alms, if he 
knew that Peter and John were Christ's messengers, 
and preached and wrought miracles in his name ? 
But he had that done for him, which he looked not 
for ; asked an alms, and had a cure. 

IV. We have here the method of the cure : 
p 1. His expectations were raised. Peter, instead 
/ of turning his eyes from hi?n, as many do from ob- 
I jects of charity, turned his eyes to him, nay he fas- 
tened his eyes ufion him, that his eye might affect 
his heart with compassion toward him, v. 4. John 
did so too, for they were both guided by one and the 
same Spirit, and concurred in this miracle ; they 
said. Look on us. Our eye must be ever toward the 
Lord, (the eye of our mind,) and, in token of that, 
the eye of tlie body may properly be fixed on those 
whom he employs as the ministers of his grace. This 
man needed not be bidden twice to look on the apos- 
tles ; for he justly thought this gave him cause to 
expect that he should recewe something from them, 
_^and therefore he gave heed to them, v. 5. Note, 
, We must come to God both to attend on his word, 
' and to apply ourselves to him in prayer, with hearts 
fixed and expectations raised. We must look up to 
heaven, and expect to receive benefit by that which 
f; God speaks from thence, and an answer of peace to 
,1 the prayers sent up thither. / ivill direct my firayer 
> unto thee, and vjtll look u/i. 

2. His expectations ofaii alms were disa/ipointed ; 
Peter said, " Silver end gold have Ino7ie, and there- 
fore none to give thee ;" yet he intimates that if he 
had had any he would give him an alms, not brass, 
but silver oi gold. Note, (1.) It is not often that 
Christ's friends and favourites have abundance of 
the wealth of this world. The apostles were very 
poor, had but just enough for themselves, and no 
overplus. Peter and John had abundance of money 
laid at their feet, but that was appropriated to the 
maintenance of the poor of the church, and they 
would not convert any of it to their own use, nor dis- 
pose of it otherwise than according to the intention 
of the donors. Public trusts ought to be strictly and 
faithfully observed. (2.) Many, who are well in- 
clined to works of charity, are yet not in a capacity 
of doing any thmg considerable, while others, who 
have wherewithal to do much, have not a heart to 
do and thing. 



3. His expectations, notwithstanding, were quite 
outdone; Peter had no money to give him ; but, (1.) 
He had that which was better, such an interest in 
heaven, such a power from heaven, as to be able to 
cure his disease. Note, Those who are poor in the 
world, may yet be rich, very rich, in spiritual gifts, 
graces, and comforts ; certainly there is that which 
we are capable of receiving, which is infinitely bet- 
ter than silver and gold ; the merchandise and gain 
of it better. Job 28. 12, &c. Prov. 3. 14, &c. (2.) . 
He gave him that which was better — the cure of his 
disease, which he would gladly have given a great 
deal of silver and gold for, if he had had it, and it 
could have been so obtained. This would have ena- 
bled him to work for his living, so that he should not 
need to beg any more ; nay, he would have to grve 
to them that needed, and it is more blessed to give 
than to receive. A miraculous cure would be a 
greater instance of God's favour, and would put a 
greater honour upon him, than thousands of gold and 
silver could. Observe, When Peter had no silver 
and gold to give, yet (says he) such as J have I give 
thee. Note, Those may be, and ought to be, other- 
wise charitable and helpful to the poor, who have 
not wherewithal to give in charity ; they who have 
not silver and gold, have their limbs and senses, and 
with these may be serviceable to the blind, and lame, 
and sick ; which if they be not, as there is occasion, 
neither would they give to them if they had silver 
and gold, ^s every one has received the gift, so let 
him minister it. 

Let us now see how the cure was wrought : 

[1.] Christ sent his nvord, and healed him ; (Ps. 
107. 20.) for healing grace is given by the word of 
Christ; that is the vehicle of the healing virtue de- 
rived from Christ. Christ spake cures by himself, 
the apostles spake them in his name. Peter bids a 
lame man rise up and vjalk ; which would have been 
a banter upon him, if he had not premised in the 
name of Jesus of J\''azareth ; " I say it by warrant 
from him, and it shall be done by power from him, 
and all the glory and praise of it shall be ascribed to 
him." He calls Christ Jesus of A'azareth, which 
was a name of reproach, to intimate, that the indig- 
nities done him on earth served but as a foil to his 
glories now that he was in heaven. " Give him 
what name you will, call him if you will in scorn 
Jesus of A'azareth, in that name you shall see won- 
ders done; for because he hu7nbled hirnself thus 
highly was he exalted." He bids the cripple r/se 
up and ivalk ; which does not prove that he had 
power in himself to do it, but pro^ es (if he attempt 
to rise and walk, and, in a sense of his own impo- 
tency, depend upon a divine power to enable him to 
do it) that he shall be enabled; and by rising and 
walking he must evidence that that power has 
wrought upon him ; and then let him take the com- 
fort, and let God have the praise. Thus it is in the 
healing of our souls, that are spiritually impotent. 

[2.] Peter lent his hand, and helped him ; {v. 7.) 
He took him by the right hand in the same name in 
which he had spoken to him to arise and walk, and 
lifted him up. Not that this could contribute any 
thing to his cure ; it was but a sign, plainly intimat--^ 
ing the help he should receive from God, if he ex- \ 
erted himself as he was bidden, ^^'hen God by his ' 
word commands us to rise, and walk in the wav of 
his commandments, if we mix faith with that word, 
and lay our souls under the power of it, he will give 
his Spirit to take us by the hand, and lift us up. If 
wc set ourselves to do what we can, God has pro- - 
mised his grace to enable us to do what we cannot : 
and by that promise we partake of a new nature ; 
and that grace shall not be in vain ; it was not here ; 
his feet and ankle-bones received strength ; which 
they had not done, if he had not attempted to rise,^ 
i and been helped up ; he does his part, and Peter" 



THE ACTS, in. 



30 

does his, and yet it is Christ tnat does all : it is he 
that fiuts strength into him. As the bread multi- 
plied in the breaking, and the water was turned into 
wine in the pouring out, so strength was given to the 
cripple's feet in his stirring them and using them. 

V. Here is the impression which this cure made 
upon the patient himself, which we may best con- 
ceive of, it we put our soul into his soul's stead. 

1. He leafied ufi, in obedience to the command, 
Arise. He found in himself such a degree of strength 
in \\\% feet and ankle-bones, that lie did not steal ufi, 
with fear and trembling, as weak peojjle do when 
they begin to recover strength ; but lie started ufi, 
as one refreshed with sleep, boldly, and with great 
agility, and as one that questioned not his own 
strength. The incomes of^ strength were sudden, 
and he no less sudden in shewing them. He leaped, 
as one glad to quit the bed or pad of straw on which 
he had lain so long laine. 

2. He stood, and vjalked ; he stood without either 
leaning or trembling, stood straight up, and nvalked 
without a staff; he trod strongly, and moved s^ea- 
dily ; and this was to manifest tlie cure, and that it 
was a thorough cure. Note, Those who have had 
experience of the working of divine grace upon them, 
should evidence what they have experienced. Has 
God put strength into us ? Let us stand before him in 
the exercises of devotion, let us walk before him in 
all the instances of a religious conversation. Let us 
stand up resolutely for him, and walk cheerfully with 
him, and both in strength derived and received from 
him. 

3. He held Peter and John, v. 11. We need not 
ask why he held them. I believe he scarcely knew 
himself: but it was in ■\ transport of joy tliat he em- 
braced them as the best benefactors' he ever met 
with, and hung upon them to a degree of rudeness ; 
he would not let them go forward, but would have 
them stay with him, while he published to all about 
him what God had done for him by them. Thus 
he :estified liis affection to them, he held them, and 
would not let them go. Some suggest that he clung 
to them for fear lest, if they should leave him, his 
lameness should return. Those whom God hath 
healed, love them whom he made instruments of 
their healing, and see the need of their further help. 

4. He entered with them into the temple. His 
strong affection to them held them ; but it should not 
hold them so fast as to keep them out of the temple, 
whither they were going to. preach Christ. We 
should never suffer ourselves to be diverted by the 
most affectionate kindnesses of our friends, from go- 
ing in the way of our duty. But if they will not stay 
with him, he is resolved to go with them, and the 
rather because they are going into the temfile, 
whence he had been so long kept bv his weakness 
and his begging. The impotent man whom Christ 
cured, was ]iresentl\' found in the temple, Jolni 5. 
14. He went into the temple, not only to offer up 
his praises and thanksgivings to God, but to hear 
more from the apostles of that Jesus in whose name 

.^ he had been healed. Those that have experienced 
the power of Christ, should earnestly desire to gi-ow 
in their acquaintance with Christ. 

5. He was t\\crQ walking, and leaping, and prais- 
ing God. Note, The strength God has given iis 
both in mind and l)ody, should l)e made use of to his 
praise, and we should study how to honour him with 
It. Those that are healed in his name, must nvalk 
up and down in his name, and in his strength, Zech. 
10. 12. Tills man, as soon as he could leap, leaped 
for joy in God, and praised him. Here was that 
scripture fulfilled, (Isa. 35. 6.) Then shall the lav)e 
man leap as a hart. Now that this man was newly 
cured, he was in this excess of joy and tliankfulncss. 
All true converts walk, and praise God ; but per- 
haps young converts leap more in his praises. 



VL How the people that were eye-witnesses of this 
miracle, were influenced by it, we are next told. 

1. They were entirely satisfied in the truth of the 
miracle, and had nothing to object against it. They 
knew it was he that sat begging at the Beautiful gate 
of the temple, v. 10. He had sat there so long, that 
they all knew him ; and for that reason he was chosen 
to be the vessel of this mercy. Now they were not 
so perverse as to make any doubt whether he was 
the same man, as the Pharisees had questioned con- 
cerning the blind man that Christ cured, John 9. 11. 
They now saw him walking, and praising God, {v. 
9. ) and perhaps took notice of a change in his mind : 
for he was now as loud in praising (iod as he had 
used to be in begging relief. The best evidence that 
it was a complete cure, was, that he praised God 
for it. Mercies are then perfected, when they are 
sanctified. 

2. They admired at it ; they were filed with won 
der and a?nazement, {xk 10.) greatly wondering, v 
11. They were in an ecstasy. There seems to be 
this effect of the pouring out of the Spirit, that the 

fieople, at least those in Jerusalem, were more af- 
ected with the'miracles the apostles wrought than 
they had been with those of the same kind that had 
been wrought by Christ himself ; and this was in 
order to the miracles answering their end. 

3. They gathered about Peter and John ; jill the 
people ran together unto them in Solo7no7i's porch: 
some, only to gratify their curiosity with the sight 
of men that had such power ; others, with a desire 
to hear them preach, concluding that their doctrine 
must needs be of divine original, which thus had a 
divine ratification. They flocked to them in Solo- 
mon's porch, a part of the court of the Gentiles, 
where Solomon had built the outer porch of the 
temple. Or, it was some cloisters or piazzas which 
Herod had erected upon the same foundation which 
Solomon had built that stately porch upon, that bore 
his name ; Herod being ambitious herein to be a se- 
cond Solomon. Here the people met, to see this 
great sight. 

1 2. And when Peter saw ?7, he answered 
unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why 
marvel ye at this ? Or why look ye so ear- 
nestly on us, as though by our own power 
or holiness we had made this man to walk ? 
13. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, 
and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath 
glorified his Son Jesus ; whom ye delivered 
up, and denied him in the presence of Pi- 
late, when he was determined to let him 
go. 14. But ye denied the Holy One and 
the Just, and desired a murderer to be 
granted unto you; 15. And killed the 
Prince of life, whom God hath raised from 
the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16. 
And his name through faith in his name 
hath made this man strong, whom ye see 
and know : yea, the failh which is by him 
hath given him this perfect soundness in 
the presence of you all. 17. And now, 
brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye 
did it, as did also your rulers. 1 8. But those 
things, which God before had shewed by 
the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ 
should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19. He- 
pent ye therefore, and be converted, that 
your sins may be blotted out, when the 



THE ACTS, III. 



31 



times of refreshing shall come from the 
presence of the Lord ; 20. And he shall 
send Jesus Christ, which before was 
-preached unto you: 21. Whom the hea- 
ven must receive until the times of restitu- 
tion of all things, which God hath spoken 
by the mouth of all his holy prophets since 
the world began. 22. For Moses truly 
said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the 
Lord your God raise up unto you of your 
brethren, like unto me-; him shall ye hear 
in all things whatsoever he shall say unto 
you. 23. And it shall come to pass, that 
every soul, which will not hear that pro- 
phet, shall be destroyed from among the 
people. 24. Yea, and all the prophets from 
Samuel and those that follow after, as ma- 
ny as have spoken, have likewise foretold 
of these days, 25. Ye are the children of 
the prophets, and of the covenant which 
God made with our fathers, saying unto 
Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the 
kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26. Unto 
you first God, having raised up his Son Je- 
sus, sent him to bless you, in turning away 
every one of you from his iniquities. 

We have here the sermon which Peter preached 
after he had cured the lame man. When Peter saw 
it. 1. JVheji he saiv the people got together in a 
crowd, he took that opportunity to preach Christ to 
them, especially the temple being the place of their 
concourse, and Solomon's porch there, let them 
come and hear a more excellent wisdom than Solo- 
mon's, for behold, a greater than Solomon is here 
preached. 2. JVheji he saw the people affected with 
the miracle, and filled with admiration, then he 
sowed the gospel-seed in the ground, which was 
thus broken up, and prepared to receive it. 3. 
Ii7ien he saw the people ready to adore him and 
John, he stepped in immediately, and diverted their 
respect from them, that they might be directed to 
Christ only ; to this he answered presently, as Paul 
and Barnabas at Lystra. See ch. 14. 14, 15. In the 
sermon, 

I. He humbly disclaims the honour of the mira- 
cle as not due to them, who were only the ministers 
of Christ, or instruments in his hand for the doing 
of it. The doctrines they preached were not of 
their own invention, nor wei-e the seals of it their 
own, hut his whose the doctrines were. He ad- 
dresses himself to them as 7nen of Israel, men, to 
whom pertained, not only the law and the pro?nises, 
but the gospel and the performances, and who were 
nearly interested in the present dispensation. Two 
things he asks them : 

1. Why they were so surprised at the miracle it- 
self; Why marvel ye at this? It was indeed mar- 
vellous, and they justly wondered at it, but it was 
no more than what Christ had done many a time, 
and they had not duly regarded it, or been affected 
with it. It was but a little before, that Christ had 
raised Lazarus from the dead ; and why should 
this then seem so strange? Note, Stupid people 
think that strange now, which might have been fa- 
miliar to them, if it had not been their own fault. 
Christ had lately risen from the dead himself; why 
did they not marvel at that ? Why were they not 
convinced at that ? 

2. Why they gave so much of the praise of it to 



them that were only the instniments of it ; Vlliy look 
ye so earnestly on us? (1.) It was certain that they 
had 7nade this man to walk, by which it appeared 
that the apostles not only were sent of God, but were 
sent to be blessings to the world, benefactors to man- 
kind, and were sent to heal sick and distempered 
souls, that were spiritually lame and impotent, to 
set broken bones, and make them rejoice. (2.) Yet 
they did not do it by any power or holiness of their 
own; it was not done by any might of their own, 
any skill they had in physic or surgery, or any vir- 
tue in their word; the power they did it by, was 
wholly derived from Christ ; nor was it done by any 
merit of their own ; the power which Christ gave 
them to do it they had not deserved, it was not by 
their own holiness ; for as they were weak things, 
so they were foolish things, that Christ chose to em- 

floy ; Peter was a sinful man. What holiness had 
udas ? Yet he wrought miracles in Christ's name. 
What holiness any of them had, it Avas wrought in 
them, and they could not pretend to merit by it. 
(3.) It was the" people's fault that they attributed it 
to their /;07i'er and holiness, and accordingly looked 
at them. Note, The instruments of God's favour 
to us, though they must be respected, must not be 
idolized ; we must take heed of reckoning that to be 
done by the instrument, which God is the Author 
of. (4.) It was the praise of Peter and John, that 
they would not take the honour of this miracle to 
themselves, but carefully transmitted it to Christ. 
Useful men must see to it that they be very hum- 
ble. J^ot unto Jis, O Lord, not unto u.^, but to thy 
name, give glory. Every crown must be cast at the 
feet of Christ ; 'not I, but the grace of God with 7ne. 
II. "He preaches Christ to them, that was his bu- 
siness, that he might lead them into obedience to 
Christ. 

1. He preaches Christ, as the true Messiah pro- 
mised to the fathers, v. 13. for, (1.) Ne is Jesus the 
So?i of God; though they had lately condemned 
Christ as a blasphemer, for saying that he was the 
Son of God, yet Peter avows it ; he is his Son Jesus; 
to him, dear as a Son ; to us, Jesus, a Saviour. (2.) 
God hath glorified him, in raising him up to be 
King, Priest, and Prophet, of his church ; he glori- 
fied him in his life, and in his death, as well as in his 
resurrection and ascension. (3.) He hath glorified 
him as the God of our fathers, whom he names with 
i-espect, for they were great names with the men of 
Israel, and justly, the, God of Jbrahain, of Isaac, 
and of Jacob. God sent him into the world, pur- 
suant to the promises made to those patriarchs, that 
in their seed the families of the earth should be blessed, 
and the covenant made with them, that God would 
be a God to them, and their seed. The apostles call 
the patriarchs, their fathers, and God, the God of 
those patriarchs, from whom the Jews were de- 
scended ; to intimate to them, that they had no evil 
design upon the Jewish nation, (that they sliould 
look upon them with a jealous eye,) but had a value 
and concern for it, and were hereby well-wishers to 
it; and the gospel they preached, was the revela- 
tion of the mind and will of the God of .Abraham. 
See ch. 26. 7, 22. Luke 1. 72, 7S. 

2. He charges them flat and plain with the mur- 
der of this Jesus, as he had done before. (1.) " Yoti 
delivered him up to your chief priests and elders, the 
representative body of the nation ; and you of the 
common people were influenced by them, to cla- 
iTiour against him, as if he had been a public griev- 
ance." (2.) " You denied him, and you disowned 
him, would not have him then to be your King, 
could not look upon him as the Messiah, because he 
came not in external pomp and power ; you denied 
him in the presence of Pilate, renounced all the ex- 

Sectations of your church, in the presence of the 
:oman governor, who justly laughed at you for it ; 



32 



THE ACTS, III. 



you denied him against the face of Pilate " (so Dr. 
Hammond,) "in defiance of his reasonings with 
you." {Pilate had deter?nined to let him go, but the 
fieofile opposed it, and over-ruled him. ) " You were 
worse than Pilate, for he would have released him, 
if you had let him follow his own judgment. You 
denied the Holy One, and the Juat, wlio had ap- 
proved himself so, and all the malice of his perse- 
cutors could not disprove it." The holiness and jus- 
tice of the Lord Jesus, which are something more 
than his innocency, were a great aggravation of the 
sin of those that put him to death. (3.) " You de- 
sired a murderer to be released, and Christ crucified; 
as if Barabbas had deserved better at your hands, 
than the Lord Jesus ; than which a greater affront 
could not be put upon him." (4.) You killed the 
Prince of life. Observe the antithesis : " You pre- 
served a murderer, a destroyer of life ; and de- 
stroyed the Saviour, the Author of life. You killed 
him' who was sent to be to you the Prince of life, and 
so not only forsook, but rebelled against, your own 
mercies. You did an ungrateful thing, in taking 
away his life, who would have been your Life. You 
did a foolish thing, to think you could conquer the 
Prince of life, wlio has life in hiinself and would 
soon resume the life he resigned. " 

3. He attests his resurrection as before, ch. 2. 32. 
" You thought the Prince of life might be deprived 
of his life, as any other prince might be deprived of 
his dignity and dominion, but you found yourselves 
mistaken, for God raised him from the dead; so 
that in putting him to death, you fought against 
God, and were baffled. God raised him from the 
dead, and thereby ratified his demands, and con- 
firmed his doctrine, and rolled away all the reproach 
of his sufferings, and for the truth of his resurrection, 
we are all -witnesses.^ 

4. He ascribes the cure of this impotent man to 
the power of Christ; {v. 16.) His na7ne, through 
faith in his name, in that discovery which he hath 
made of himself, has made this man strong. He re- 
peats it again. The faith which is by him hath given 
him this soundness. Here, (1.) He appeals to them- 
selves concerning the tnith of the miracle ; the man, 
on whom it was wrought, is one whom ye see, and 
know, and have known ; he was not acquainted with 
Peter and John before, so that there was no room to 
suspect a compact between them ; "You know him 
to be a cripple from a child. The miracle was 
wrought publicly, in the presence of you all ; not in 
a corner, Ijut in the gate of the temple ; you see in 
what manner it was done, so that there could be no 
juggle in it ; you had liberty to examine it imme- 
diately, and may yet. The cure is complete, it is a 
perfect soundness ; you see the man walks and leaps, 
as one that has no remainder either of weakness or 
pain." (2.) He acquaints them with the power by 
which it was wrought. [1.] It is done by the name 
of Christ, not merely by naming it as a spell or 
charm, but it is done by us as professors and preach- 
ers of his name, by virtue of a commission and in- 
structions we have received from him, and a power 
which he has invested us with ; that name which 
Christ has above ex<ery name; his authority, his 
command, has f/or?e ?V ; as writs run in the king's 
name, though it is an inferior officer that executes 

•them. [2.] The power of Christ is fetched in, 
through faith in his name, a confidence in him, a de- 
pendence on him, a believing application to him, 
and exjiortation from him, even that faith which is 
i'l ^utI — by him, which is of his working ; it is not 
of ourselves, it i.i the gift of Christ ; and il is for his 
sake, that he may ha\ e the glory of it ; for he is 
both the Author and Finisher of our faith. Dr. 
Lightfoot suggests, that faith is twice named in this 
verse, because of the ai)ostles' faith in doing this 
miracle, and the cripple's faith in receiving it ; but 



I suppose it relates chiefly, if not only, to the for-_ 
mer. They that wrought this miracle by faith, de- 
rived power from Chi-ist to work it, and therefore 
returned all the glory to him. By this true and just ! 
account of the miracle, Peter both confirmed the 
great gospel-truth they were to preach to the world. 
— that Jesus Christ is the Fountain of all power and 
grace, and the great Healer and Saviour ; and re- 
commended the gj-eat gospel duty of faith in him, 
as the only way of receiving benefit by him. It ex-- 
plains likewise the great gospel-myster\' of our sal- 
vation by Christ ; it is /;/* name that justifies us, that ^ 
glorious name of his, The Lord, our Righteousness; '^^ 
but we, in particular, are justified by that name 
through faith in it, applying it to ourselves. Thus 
does Peter preach unto them Jesus, and him cruci- 
fied, as a faithful friend of the Bridegroom, to whose 
service and honour he devoted all his interest. 

III. He encourages them to hope that, though 
they had been guilty of putting Christ to death, yet 
they might find mercy ; he does all lie can toxon- 
vince them, yet is careful not to drive them to des- 
pair. The guilt was very great, but, 

1. He mollifies their crime by a candid imputation 
of it to their ignorance. Perhaps, he perceived by 
the countenance of his hearers, that they were sti-uck 
with an exceeding horror, when he told them that 
they had killed the Prince of life, and were ready 
either to sink down, or to fly off, and therefore he 
saw it needful to mitigate the rigour of the charge, 
by calling them brethren ; and well might he call 
them so, for he had been himself a brother with 
them in this iniquity ; he had denied the Holy One, 
and the Just, and swoni that he did not know him ; 
he did it by surprise ; and for your parts, / knou 
that through ignoi-ance ye did it, as did also your 
rulers, v. 17. This was the language of Peter's 
charity, and teaches us to make the best of those 
whom we desire to make better. Peter had search- 
ed the wound to the bottom, and now he begins to 
think of healing it up, in order to which it is neces- 
sary to beget in them a good opinion of their phy- 
sician ; and could any thing be more winning than 
this ? That which bears him out in it, is, that he 
has the example of his Master's praying for his cru- 
cifiers, and pleading in their behalf, that they knew 
not what they did. And it is said of the rulers, that 
if they had known, they would not have crucified 
the J^ord of glory. See 1 Cor. 2. 8. Perhaps some 
of the rulers, and of the people, did therein rebel 
against the light and the con\ictions of their own 
consciences, and did it through malice ; but the ge- 
nerality went down the stream, and did it through 
ignorance ; as Paul jiersecuted the church, igno- 
rant ly, and in mibelief 1 Tim. 1.13. 

2. He mollifies the effect of their crime — the 
death of the Prince of life ; this sounds very dread- 
ful, but it was according to the scriptures, {v. 18.) 
the predictions of which, though they did not neces- 
sitate their sin, yet did necessitate his sutterines ; so 
he himself saith, Thus it is written, and thus it be- 
hoved Christ to sujfi r. You did it through igno- 
rance, may be taken in this sense ; " You fulfilled 
the scripture, and did not know it ; God, by your 
hands, hath fulfilled what he shewed by the mouth 
of all his /iro/ihets, that Christ should suffer ; thnt 
was his design in delivering him u]) to you, but you 
had views of your own, and were altogether igno- 
rant of that design ; you meant not so, neither did 
your heart think so. God was fulfilling the scrip- 
ture, when you were gratifying your own passions." 
Oliserve, It was not only determined in the .lecret 
counsel of God, but declared to the world manv 
ages before, by the mouth and pen of the prophets, 
that Christ should suffer, in order to the accomplish- 
ment of his undei-taking ; and it was (iod himself 
that shewed it bv them, who will see that his words 



THE ACTS, III. 



33 



be made good ; what he shewed, he fulfilled ; he so 
fulfilled, so as he had sAewec?, punctually and ex- 
actly, without any variation. Now, though this is 
no extenuation at all of their sin in hating and per- 
secuting Christ to the death, (that still appears ex- 
ceeding sinful,) yet it was an encouragement to them 
to repent, and hope for mercy upon their repent- 
ance ; not only because in general God's gracious 
designs were carried on by it, (and thus it agi-ees 
. with the encouragement Joseph gave to his brethren, 
when they thought their offence against him almost 
unpardonable ; Fear not, saith he, you thought evil 
against me, but God meant it unto good. Gen. 50. 
15, 20.) but because in particular the death and suf- 
ferings of Christ were for the remission of sins, and 
the ground of that display of mercy which he now 
encouraged them to hope for. 

IV. He exhorts them all to turn christians, and 
assures them it would be unspeakably for their ad- 
vantage to do so ; it would be the making of them 
for ever. This is the application of his sermon. 

1. He tells them what they must believe. 

(1.) They must believe that Jesus Christ is the 
promised Seed, that Seed in which, God had told 
Abraham, all the kindreds of the earth should be 
blessed, v. 25. This refers to' that promise made to 
Abraham, (Gen. 12. 3.) which promise was long ere 
it was fulfilled, but now at length had its accom- 
plishment in this Jesus, Avho was of the seed of 
Abraham, according to the flesh, and in him all the 
families of the earth are blessed, and not the families 
of Israel only ; all have some benefits by him, and 
some have all benefits. 

(2.) They must believe that Jesus Christ is a 
Prophet, that Prophet like unto Moses, which God 
had promised to raise up to them from amo?ig their 
brethren, v. 22. This refers to that promise, Deut. 
IS. Christ is a Prophet, for by him God speaks 
unto us ; in him all divine revelation centres, and 
by him it is handed to us ; he k a. Prophet, like unto 
JSJoses, a Favourite of Heaven ; more intimately ac- 
quainted with the divine counsel, and more fami- 
liarly conversed with, than any other prophets. He 
was a Deliverer of his people out of bondage, and 
their Guide through the ivilderness, like Moses ; a 
Prince and a Lawgiver, like Moses ; the Builder 
of the true tabernacle, as Moses was of the typi- 
cal one. Moses was faithful as a serx'ant, Christ 
as a Son. Moses was murmured against by Israel, 
defied by Pharaoh, yet God owned him, and rati- 
fied his commission. Moses was a pattern of meek- 
ness and patience, so is Christ. Moses died by the 
VJord of the Lord, so did Christ. There was no pro- 
phet like unto Moses, (Numb. 12. 6, 7. Deut. 34. 
10.) but a greater than Moses is here where Christ 
is. He is a Prophet of God's raising up, for he took 
not this honour of himself, but was called of God to 
it. He was raised up unto Israel in the first place ; 
lie executed this office in his own person, among 
them only ; they had the first offer of divine grace 
made to them ; and therefore he was raised up from 
among them ; of them, as concerning the fiesh, Christ 
came ; which, as it was a great honour done to them, 
so it was both an obligation upon them, and an en- 
couragement to them, to embrace him. If he co?ne 
to his own, one would think, they should receive him. 
The Old Testament church was blessed with many 
prophets, with schools of prophets, for many ages 
with a constant succession of prophets ; (which is 
here taken notice of, from Samuel, and those that 
follow after, v. 24. for from him the prophetic xra 
did commence ;) but those sen'ants being abused, 
last of all God sent them his Son who had been in his 
bosom. 

(3.) They must believe that times of refreshing 
will come frotn the presence of the Lord, {v. 19. ) 
ind that thev will be the times of the restitutio*! of 

Vol. vi.-E ' 



all things, v. 21. There is a future state, another 
life after this ; those times will come from the pre- 
sence of the Lord, from his glorious appearance at 
that day, his coming at the end of titne. The ab- 
sence of the Lord occasions many of the securities 
of sinners, and the distrusts of saints ; but his pre- 
sence is hastening on, which will for ever silence 
both. Behold, the Judge standeth before the door. 
The presence of the Lord will introduce, [1.] 77ie 
restitution of all things, {v. 21.) the new heavens, 
and the new earth, which will be the product of the 
dissolution of all things, (Rev. 21. 1.) the renovation 
of the whole creation, which is that which it grieves 
after, as its present burthen under the sin of man is 
that which it groans under. Some understand this 
of a state on this sid6 the end of time ; but it is ra- 
ther to be understood of that end of all things, which 
God hath spoken of by the mouth of all his holy 
prophets since the world began ; for this is that 
which Enoch, the sex'enth from Jldam, prophesied 
of, (Jude 14.) and the temporal judgments, which 
the other prophets foretold, were typical of that 
which the apostle calls the eternal judgment. This 
is more clearly and plainly revealed in the New Tes- 
tament than it had been before, and all that receive 
the gospel have an expectation of it. [2.] With 
this will come the times of refreshing, \v. 19.) of 
consolation to the Lord's people, like a cool shade to 
those that have borne the burthen and heat of the 
day. All christians look for a rest that remains for 
the people of God, after the travels and toils of their 
present state, and, with the prospect of that, they 
are borne up under their present sufferings, and car- 
ried on in their present services. The refreshing 
that then comes from the presence of the Lord, will 
continue eternally in the presence of the Lord. 

2. He tells them what they must do. 

(1.) They must repent, must bethink themselves 
of what they have done amiss, must return to their 
right mind, admit a second thought, and submit to 
the convictions of it ; they must begin anew. Peter, 
who had himself denied Christ, repented, and he 
would ha^•e them to do so too. 

(2.) They must be converted, must face about, 
and direct both their faces and steps the contraiy 
way to what they had been ; they must return to the 
Lord their God, from whom they had revolted. It 
is not enough to repent of sin, but we must be con- 
verted from it, and not return to it again. They 
must not only exchange the profession of Judaism for 
that of Christianity, but the power and dominion of 
a carnal, worldly, sensual, mind, for that of holy, 
heavenlv, and divine, principles and affections. 

(3.) They must hear Christ, the great Prophet ; 
"Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoex-er he shall 
say unto you. Attend his dictates, receive his doc- 
trine, submit to his government. Hear him with a 
divine faith, as prophets should be heard, that come 
with a divine commission. Him shall ye hear, and 
to him you shall subscribe with an implicit faith and 
obedience. Hear him in all things ; let his laws 
govern all vour actions, and his counsels determine 
all your submissions. Whenever he has a mouth to 
speak, you must have an ear to hear." Whatever 
he saith to us, though ever so displeasing to flesh 
and blood, bid it welcome. Speak, Lord, for thy 
servant hears. 

A good reason is here given why we should be 
observant of, and obedient to, the word of Christ ; 
for it is at our peril if we turn a deaf ear to his call, 
and a stiff neck to his yoke ; {v. 23. ) Every soul 
which will not hear that Prophet, and be directed 
bv what he saith, shall be destroyed from among 
the people. The destruction of the city and nation, 
by war and famine, was threatened for slighting the 
prophets of the Old Testament ; but the destruction 
of the soul, a spiritual and eternal destruction, is 



34 



THE ACTS, 111. 



threatened foi- slighting Christ, this great Profihet. 
They that will not be advised by the Saviour, can 
expect no other than to fall into the hands of the 
destroyer. 
3. He tells them what they might expect 
(1.) That they should have the pardon of their 
sins ; this is always spoken of as the gi-eat privilege 
of all those that embrace the gospel ; (v. 19. ) Re- 
fient, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted 
out. This implies, [1.] That the remission of sin 
is the blotting of it out, as a cloud is blotted out by 
the beams of the sun, (Isa. 44. 22. ) as a debt is crossed 
and blotted out, when it is remitted. It intimates, 
that when God forgives sin, he remembers it no more 
against the sinner ; it is forgotten, as that which is 
blotted out ; all the bitter things written against the 
sinner, (Job 13. 26.) are wiped out as it were with 
a spunge ; it is the cancelling of a bond, the vacating 
of a judgment. [2.] We cannot expect that our 
sins should be pardoned, unless we refient of them, 
and turn from them to God. Though Christ has 
died to purchase the remission of sin, yet, that we 
may have the benefit of that purchase in the for- 
giveness of our sins, we must refient, and be con- 
verted: if no repentance, no remission. [3.] Hopes 
of the pardon of sin upon repentance should be a 
powerful inducement to us to refient. Refient, that 
your sins may be blotted out : and that repentance 
IS evangelical, which flows from an apprehension of 
the mercy of God in Christ, and the hopes of par- 
don. This was the first and great argument, Refient, 
for the kingdom- of heaven is at hand. [4.] The 
most comfortable trait of the forgiveness of our sins 
will be wheji the times of refreshing shall come ; if 
our sins be forgiven us, we have now reason to be 
of good cheer ; but the comfort will be complete, 
when the pardon shall be allowed in open court, and 
our justification published before angels and men; 
when, whom he justified, them he glorifies, Rom. 8. 
30. As now we are the sons of God, (1 John 3. 2. ) 
so now we have our sins blotted out ; but it doth not 
yet afifiear what are the blessed fruits of it, till the 
times of refreshing shall come. During these times 
of toil and conflict, (doubts and fears within, trou- 
bles and dangers without,) we cannot have that full 
satisfaction of our pardon, and in it, that we shall 
have when the refreshing times come, which shall 
wifie away all tears. 

(2. ) That they should have the comfort of Christ's 
coming, {v. 20, 21.) "He shall send Jesus Christ, the 
same Jesus, the very same which before was fireached 
unto you ; for you must not expect another dispen- 
sation, another gospel, but the continuance and com- 
pletion of this ; you must not expect another firo- 
fihet like unto Jesus, as Moses bid you expect another 
like unto him ; for though the heavens must receive 
him till the times of the restitution of all things, yet, 
if you refient and he converted, you shall find no want 
of him ; some way or other he shall be seen to you." 
[1.] We must'not expect Christ's personal pre- 
sence with us in this world ; for the heavens, which 
received htm out of the sight of the disciples, must 
retain him till the end of time. To that seat of the 
blessed his bodily firesence is confined, and will be to 
the end of time, the accomfilishment of all things; 
so it may be read : and therefore those dishonour 
him, and deceive themselves, who dream of his cor- 
poral presence in the eucharist. It is agreeable to 
Estate of trial and probation, that the glorified Re- 
deemer should be out of sight, because we must live 
by that faith in him, which is the evidence of things 
not seen ; because he must be believed on in the 
world, he must be receirved ufi into glory. Dr. Ham- 
mond reads it, IVho must receive the heavens, that 
is, who must receive the glojnf and fiower of the 
ufifier world ; he must reit^n till all be made subject 
JO him, 1 Cor. 15. 25. Ps, 75. 2. 



[2.] Yet it is promised that he shall be sent to all 
that refient, and are converted ; {v. 20.) " He shall 
send Jesus Christ, who was fireached tc you by his 
disciples, both before and since his resurrection, and 
is, and will be, all in all to them." First, "You 
shall have his spiritual presence ; he that is sent 
into the world, shall be sent to you ; you shall have 
the comfort of his being sent ; he shall be sent among 
you in his gospel, which shall be his tabernacle, his 
chariot of war." Secondly, "He shall send Jesus 
Christ to destroy Jerusalem, and the nation of unbe- 
lieving Jews, that are enemies to Christ and Christi- 
anity, and to deliver his ministers and people from 
them, and give them a quiet profession of the gos- 
pel, and that shall be a titne of refreshing, which 
you shall share in." The7i had the churches rest ; 
so Dr. Hammond. Tlnrdly, "The sending of Christ 
to judge the world, at the end of time, will be a 
blessing to you ; you shall then lift ufi your heads 
with joy, knowing that your redemfi'tion draws 
nigh. It seems to refer to this, for till then the 
heavens must receive him, v. 21. As God's counsels 
from eternity, so his predictions from the beginning 
of time, had a reference to the transactions of the 
last day, when the mystery of God shall be finished, 
as he had declared to his servants the firofihets, Rev. 
10. 7. The OTStitution of all things in the church, 
had an eye to the restitution of all things at the end 
of time. 

4. He tells them what ground they had to ex- 
pect these things, if they were converted to Christ. 
Though they had denied him, and fiut him to 
death, yet they might hope to find favour through 
him, upon the account of their being Israelites. 
For, 

(1.) As Israelites, they had the monopoly of the 
grace of the Old Testament, they were, above any 
other, God's favourite nation, and the favours God 
bestowed upon them were such as had a reference 
to the Messiah, and his kingdo?n ; Ye are the chil- 
dren of the firofihets, and of the covenant. A double 
privilege ! 

[1.] They were the children, that is, the disciples, 
of the firofihets, as children at school ; not sons of 
the firofihets, in the sense that we read of such in the 
Old Testament, from Samuel and downward, who 
were, or are, trained up to be endued with thesfiirit 
ofprofihecy ; but you are of that fieofile, from among 
whom firofihets were raised up, and to whom firo- 
fihets were se?it. It is spoken C)f as a great fa\our 
to Israel, that God raised 7/ fi of their sons for fii-o- 
fihets, Amos % 11. All the inspired writers, both 
of the Old and New Testament, were of the seed of 
jibraham ; and it was their honour and advantage, 
that unto them were connnitted the oracles of God, 
Rom. 3. 2. Their government was constituted by 
prophecy, that is, by divine revelation : and by it their 
affairs were for many ages very much managed. See 
Hos. 12. 13. By a firofihrt the Lord brought Israel 
out of F.giifit, and by a firofihet nvas he Jirrsen'ed. 
Those of the latter ages of the church, when ])Vo- 
phecy had ceased, might yet be fitly called the chil- 
dren of the firofihctn, because Mc'!/ heard, though they 
did not know, the voices of the jirofihets, which were 
read in their synagogues ex'erv sabbath-day , Acts 13. 
27. Now this should quicken them to embrace Christ, 
and they might hope to be accefited of him ; for their 
own firofihets had foretold, that this grace should be 
brought unto them at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 
(1 Pet. 1. 13.) and therefore ought not to be neglect- 
ed by them, nor should be denied to them. Those 
that are ]>lessed with firofihets and firofihccy, (as all 
are, that have the scrifitures,) are concemed not to 
receive the grace of God therein in vain. We may 
apply it particularly to ministers' children, who, if 
they plead that effectually with themselves, as an 
inducement to be faithful and forward in religion. 



THE ACTS, IV. 



35 



may comfortably plead it with God, and hope that 
the children of God's aeri'ants shall continue. 

[2.] They were the children, that is, the heirs, 
of the covenant which God made with our fathers, 
as children in the family. God's covenant was made 
ivith Abraham and his seed, and they were that seed 
with whom the covenant was made, and on whom 
the blessings of the covenant were entailed; "The 
promise of the Messiah was made to you, and there- 
fore if you foi'sake not your own mercies, and do not 
by an obstinate infidelity put a bar in your own door, 
you may hope it shall be made good to you." That 
promise here mentioned, as the principal article of 
the covenant. In thy seed shall all the kindreds of 
the earth be blessed, though referring principally to 
Christ, (Gal. 3. 16.) yet may include the church 
also, which is his body, all believers, that are the 
spiritual seed of Abraham. All the kindreds of the 
earth were blessed in having a church for Christ 
among them ; and those that were the seed of Abra- 
ham according to thefiesh, stood fairest for this pri- 
vilege. If all the kindreds of the earth were to be 
blessed in Christ, much more that kindred, his kins- 
men according to thejlesh. 

(2.) As Israelites, they had the first offer of the 
gi'ace of the New Testament Because they were 
the children of the profihets and the covenant, there- 
fore to them the Redeemer was _^r«^ sent; which 
was an encouragement to them to hope that if they 
did repent, and were converted, he should be yet 
further se72^ for their comfort; {v. 20.) "He shall 
send Jesus Christ, for to you first he hath sent him, 
V. 26. Unto you first, you Jews, though not to you 
only, God, having raised ufi his Son Jesus, appointed 
and authorized him to be a Prince and a Saviour, 
and, in confirmation of that, raised him from the 
dead, sent him to bless you, to make a tender of his 
blessing to you, especially that great blessing of 
turning every one of ijou from his iniquities; and 
therefore it concerns you to receive this blessing, and 
turji from your iniquities, and you may be encour- 
aged to hope that you shall." 

[1.] We are here told whence Christ had his mis- 
sion ; God raised uji his son Jesus, and sent him. 
God raised him ufi, when he constituted him a Pro- 
phet, owned him by a voice from heaven ; and filled 
him with his Spirit without measure, and then sent 
him ; for to that end he raised him up, that he might 
be his Commissioner to treat of peace. He sent him 
to bear witness of the truth, sent hirn to seek and save 
lost souls, sent him against his enemies, to conquer 
them. Some refer the raising of him up, to the re- 
surrection, which was the fii'st step toward his ex- 
altation ; that was, as it were, the renewing of his 
commission ; and though, having raised him up, he 
seemed presently to take him from us, yet he did 
really send him afresh to us in his gospel and Spirit. 

[2.] To whom he was sent; "Unto you first. 
You of the seed of Abraham, you that are the chil- 
dren of the prophets, and of the covenant, to you is 
the tender made of gospel-grace." The personal 
ministry of Christ, as that of the prophets, was con- 
fined to the Jews; he was not then sent, but to the 
lost sheep of the house of Israel, and he forbade the 
disciples he then sent forth, to go any further. After 
his resurrection, he was to be preached indeed to 
all nations, but they must begin at Jerusalem, Luke 
24. 47. And when they went to other nations, they 
first preached to the Jews they found therein. 
They were the first-born, and, as such, had the 

Erivilegc of the first offer. So far were they from 
eing excluded for their putting of Christ to death, 
that, when he is risen, he is first sent to them, and 
they are primarily intended to have benefit by his 
death. 

[3.] On what errand he was sent ; " He is sent to 
you first to bless you, that is his primaiy errand, not 



to condemn you, as you deserve, but to justify you, 
if you will accept of the justification cffcrcd you, in 
the way wherein it is offered; but he that sends him 
first to bless you, if you refuse and reject that bless- 
ing, will send him to curse you with a curse." MaL 
4. 6. Note, First, Christ's errand into the world 
was to bless us, to bring a blessing with him, for the 
Sun of righteousness rose with healing under his 
wings ; and when h'e left the zvorld, he left a blessing 
behind him, for he was parted from the disciples as 
he blessed them, Luke 24. 51. He sent his Spirit to 
be the great Blessing, the Blessing of blessings, 
Isa. 44. 3. It is by Christ that God sends blessings 
to us, and through him only we can expect to re- 
ceive them. Secondly, The great blessnig where- 
with Christ came to bless us, was, the turning of 
us away from our iniquities, the saving of us from 
our sins, (Matt. 1. 21.) to turn us from sin, that we 
may be qualified to receive all other blessings ; sin 
is that which naturally we cleave to, the desigi) of 
divine grace is to turn us from it, nay, to turn us 
against it, that we may not only forsake it, but hate 
it ; the gospel has a direct tendency to it, not only as 
it requires us, every one of us, to turn fro7n our 
iniquities, but as it promises us grace to enable us 
to do so. " Therefore, do your part ; repent, and 
be converted, because Christ is ready to do his, in 
turning you from your iniquities, and so blessing 
you. " 

CHAP. IV. 

in going over the two last chapters, where we met with so 
many good things that the apostles did, I wondered what 
was become of the Scribes and Pharisees, and chief priests, 
that they did not appear to contradict and oppose them, as 
they had used to treat Christ himself; surely they were so 
confounded at first with the pouring out of the Spirit, that 
they were for a time struck dumb ! But I find we have not 
lost them, their forces rally again, and here we have an 
encounter between them and the apostles ; for from the 
beginninfT the gospel met with opposition. Here, I. Peter 
and John are taken up, upon a warrant from the priests, 
and committed to jail, v. 1 . .4. II. They are examined by 
a committee of the great Sanhedrim, v. 5 . . 7. III. They 
bravely avow whatlhey have done, and preach Christ to 
their persecutors, v. 8 . . 12. IV. Their persecutors, being 
unable to answer them, enjoin them silence, threaten them 
if they go on to preach the gospel, and so dismiss them, v. 
13 . . 22. V. They appiv themselves to God by praver, for 
the further operations of that grace which thev had already 
experienced, v. 23 . . 30. VI. God owns them, both out- 
wardly and inwardly, bv manifest tokens of his presence 
with them, v. 31 . . 33. Vll. The believers had their hearts 
knit together in holy love, and enlarged their charity to the 
poor, and the church flourished more than ever, to the glorv 
of Christ, V. 33.. S7. ' 

1 . A ND as they spake unto the people, 
-t\, the priests, and the captain of the 
temple, and the Saddiicees, came upon 
them ; 2. Being grieved that they taught 
the people, and preached through .Tesus the 
resurrection from tlie dead. 3. And they 
laid hands on tiiem, and put them in hold 
unto the next day : for it was now even- 
tide. 4. Howbeit many of them which 
heard the word believed ; and the number 
of the men was about five thousand. 

We have here the interests of the kingdom of 
heaven successfully carried on, and the powers i,f 
darkness appearing against them to put a stop to 
them. Let Christ's servants be ever so resolute, 
Satan's agents will be spiteful ; and therefore, let 
Satan's agents be ever so spiteful, Christ's servants 
ought to be resolute. 

I. The apostles, Peter and John, went on in their 
work, and did not labour in vain. The Spirit ena- 



36 



THE ACTS, IV. 



bled the ministers to do their pai't, and the people 
their's. 

1. The preachers faithfully delivered the doctrine 
of Christ ; Theij sfiake luito the fieople, to all that 
were within hearing, v. 1. What they said, con- 
cerned them all, and they spake it openly and pub- 
licly. They taught the peofile, still taught the fico- 
file knovjledge ; taught ihoiie that as yet did /lot be- 
lieve, for their conviction and conversion ; and 
taught those that did believe, for their comfort and 
establishment. They fireached through Jesus the 
resurrection from the dead. This doctrine of the 
resurrection oftkc J. ad, (1.) Was verified in Jesus; 
this they proved, that Jesus Christ was risen from 
the dead, was the First, the Chief, that should rise 
from Vie dead, ch. 26. 23. They fireached the re- 
surrection of Christ, as tiieir warrant for what they 
did. Or, (2.) It is secured by him to all believers. 
The resurrection of the dead includes all the happi- 
ness of the future state ; this they preached through 
Jesus Christ, attainable through him, (Phil. 3. 10, 
11.) and through him only. They meddled not with 
matters of state, but kept to their business, and 
preached to people heaven as their end, and Christ 
as tlieir Way. See ch. 17. 18. 

2. The hearers cheerfully receive it; (v. 4.) 
Many of them mhich heard the vjord, believed; not 
all, perhaps not the most, yet many, to the number 
of about Jive thousand, over and above the three 
thousand we read of before. See how the gospel 
got ground, and it was the effect of the flouring out 
of the S/iirit I Though the preachers were persecut- 
ed, the word prevailed ; for sometimes the church's 
suffering days have been her growing days ; the 
days of her infancy were so. 

II. The chief f I riests and their party now made 
liead against them, and did what they could to 
crush tliem ; their hands were tied a while, but their 
hearts were not in the least changed. Now here 
observe, * 

1. Who they were, that appeared against the 
apostles ; they were the firiests ; you may be sure, 
in the first place, they were always sworn enemies 
to Christ and his gospel ; they were as jealous for 
their priesthood as Cxsar for his monarchy, and 
would not bear one they thought their rival, now 
when he was preached as a Priest, as much as when 
he did preach as a Prophet. With them joined the 
cafitain of the temfile, who, it is supposed, was a 
Roman officer, govenior of the garrison that was 
placed in the tower of Antonia, for the guard of the 
temfile : so that still here were both Jews and Gen- 
tiles confederate against Christ. The Sadducees 
also were zealous against them, who denied the being 
ofsfiirits and the future state. "One would wonder 
(saith Mr. Baxter) what should make such bratists, 
as the Sadducees were, to be such furious silencers 
and persecutors. If there is no life to come, what 
harm can other men's hopes of it do them ? But in 
dejjraved souls all faculties axe vitiated. A blind 
mind has a malignant heart and a cruel hand, to this 
day." 

2, How they stood affertcd to the apostles' preach- 
ing ; They were grieved that they taught the fieo/ile, 
V. 2. It grieved them, both that the gospel-doc- 
trine was preached, (was so preached, so publicly, 
so boldly,) and that the people were so ready to hear 
it. They thought, when they had put Christ to such 
an ignoiininiovis death, his disciples would ever after 
be ashamed and afraid to own him, and the peo])lc 
would have invincible prejudices against his doc- 
trine ; and now it vexed them to see themselves dis- 
appointed, and that his gosi)el gets ground, instead 
of losing it. "JVie wicked nhall see it, and he grieved. 
Vs. 112. 10. Thev were grieved at that which 
they should have rejoiced in, at that which an- 
gels reioice in. Miserable is their case, to whom 



the glory of Christ's kingdom is a grief ; for since 
the glory of that kingdom is everlasting, it follows 
of course, that their grief will be everlasting too. It 
grieved them that the apostles fireached through 
Jesus the resurrection from the dead. The Saddu- 
cees were grieved that the resurrection from the 
dead was preached ; for they ojjposed that doctrine, 
and could not bear to hear of a future state, to hear 
it so well attested. The chitf firiests were grieved 
that they fireached the resurrection of the dead 
through Jesus, that he should have the honour of 
it ; and though they professed to believe the resur- 
rection of the dead against the Sadducees, yet they 
would rather give up that imjiortant article than 
have it preached and proved to be through Jesus. 

3. How far they proceeded against the apostles ; 
(v. 3.) They laid hands on them, (that is, their ser- 
vants and officers did at their command,) and fiut 
them in hold, committed them to the custody of the 
proper officer until the next day ; they could not 
examine them now, for it was even-tide, and yet 
would defer it no longer than till next day. See how 
God trains up his servants for sufferings by degrees, 
and by lesser trials prepares them for greater ; now 
they resist unto bonds only, but afterward to blood. 

5. And it came to pass on the moripvv, 
that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 
6. And Annas the High-Priest, and Caia- 
phas, and John, and Alexander, and as 
many as were of the kindred of the High- 
Priest, were gathered together at Jerusa- 
lem. 7. And when they had set them in 
the midst, they asked. By what power, or 
by what name, have ye done this ? 8. Then 
Peter, filled with tlie Holy Ghost, said unto 
them. Ye rulers of the people, and elders 
of Israel, 9. If we this day be examined 
of the good deed done to the impotent man, 
by what means he is made whole ; 10. Be 
it known unto you all, and to all the peo- 
ple 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 
whole. 1 1 . This is the stone which was 
set at nought of you builders, which is be- 
come the head of the corner. 12. Neither 
is there salvation in any other : for there is 
no other name under heaven given among 
men whereby we must be saved. 1 .3. Now 
when tliey saw the boldness of Peter and 
John, and perceived that they were un- 
learned and ignorant men, they marvelled ; 
and they took knowledge of them, that they 
had been with Jesus. 14. And beholding 
the man which was healed standing with 
them, they could say nothing against it. 

We have here the trial of Peter and John before 
the judges of the ecclesiastical court, for preaching 
a sermon conceming Jesus Christ, and woi-king a 
miracle in his name. This is charged upon them as 
a crime, which was the best service they could do 
to God or men. 

I. Here is the court set ; an extraordinary court, 
it should seem, was called on purpose upon this oc- 
casion. Oljservc, 

1. The time when the co\irt sat, (v. 5.) on the 



THE ACTS, IV. 



3? 



morrow ; not in the night, as when Christ was to 
be tried before them, for they seem not to have 
been so hot upon this prosecution as they were upon 
that ; it was well if they began to relent. But they 
adjourned it to the morrow, and no longer ; for they 
were impatient to get them silenced, and would lose 
no time. 

2. The /i/oce where — in Jerusalem ; {v. 6.) there 
it was that he told his disciples they must expect to 
suffer hard things, as he had done before them in 
that place. This seems to come in here as an ag- 
gravation of their sin, that in Jenisalem, where 
there were so many that looked for redemption be- 
fore it came, yet there were more that would not 
look upon it when it did come. How is that faith- 
ful city become a harlot I See Matt. 23. 37. It was 
in the foresight of Jeinisalem's standing in her own 
light, that Christ beheld the city, and wept over it. 

3. The judges of the court. (1.) Their general 
character ; they were rulers, elders, and Scribes, v. 
5. The Scribes were men of learning, who came to 
dispute with the apostles, and hoped to confute 
them. The rulers and elders were men in power, 
who, if they could not answer them, thought thev 
could find some cause or other to silence them. If 
the gospel of Christ had not been of God, it could 
not have made its way, for it had both the learning 
and power of the world against it, both the colleges 
of the Scribes and the courts of the elders. (2. ) 
The names of some of them who were most consi- 
derable. Here were Annas and Caiaphas, ring- 
leaders in this persecution ; Annas, the president of 
the Sanhedrim, and Caiaphas, the High-Priest, 
(though Annas is here called so,) and father of the 
house of judgment. It should seem that Annas and 
Caiaphas executed the High-Priest's office alter- 
nately, year for year ; they two were most active 
against Christ ; then Caiaphas was High-Priest, now 
Annas was ; however, they were both equally ma- 
lignant against Christ and his gospel. John is sup- 
posed to be the son of Annas ; and Alexander is 
mentioned by Josephus, as a man that made a figure 
at that time. There were others likewise that were 
of the kindred of the High-Priest, who, having de- 

Eendence on him, and expectations from him, would 
e sure to say as he said, and vote with him against 
the apostles. Great relations, and not good, have 
been a snare to many. 
II. The prisoners are arraigned, v. 7. 

1. They are brought to the bar; they set them in 
the midst, for the Sanhedrim sat in a circle, and they 
who had any thing to do in the court, stood or sat in 
the midst of them ; (Luke 2. 46. ) so Dr. Lightfoot. 
Thus the scripture was fulfilled, The assembly of 
the wicked has enclosed me, Ps. 22. 16. They com- 
passed me about like bees, Ps. 118. 12. They were 
seated on ever)' side. 

2. The question they asked them, was, " By what 
power, or by what name, have ye done this? By 
what authority do ye these things i*" (The same 
question that they had asked their Master, Matt. 
21. 23.) "Who commissioned you to preach such 
a doctrine as this, and empowered you to work such 
a miracle as this ? You have no warrant or license 
from us, and therefore are accountable to us whence 
you have your warrant." Some think this question 
was grounded upon a fond conceit that the very 
naming of some names might do wonders, as ch. 19. 
13. The Jewish exorcists made use of the name of 
Jesus. Now they would know what name they made 
use of in their cure, and consequently, what name 
they set themselves to advance in their preaching. 
They knew very well that they preached Jesus, and 
the resurrection of the dead, and the healing of the 
sick, through Jesus ; {v. 2.) yet they ask them, to 
tease them, and try if they could get any thing out of 
them that looked criminal. 



III. The plea they put in, the design of which was 
not so much to clear and secure themselves as to ad- 
vance the name and honour of their Master, who 
had told them that their being brought before go- 
vernors and kings would give them an opportunity 
of preaching the gospel to those whom otherwise 
they could not have had access to, and it shc.ild be 
a testimony against them. Mark 13. 9. Obsei-ve, 

1. By whom this plea was drawn up ; it was dic- 
tated by the Holy Ghost, who fitted Peter more than 
before for this occasion. The apostles, with a holy 
negligence of their own preservation, set themselves 
to preach Christ, as he had directed them to do in 
such a case, and then Christ made gond to them his 
promise, that the Holy Ghost should gix>e them in 
that same hour what they should speak. Christ's 
faithful ad\ocates shall never want instructions, 
Mark 13. 11. , 

2. To whom it was given in ; Peter, who is still 
the chief speaker, addresses himself to the judges 
of the court, as the rulers of the people and elders 
of Israel ; for the wickedness of those in power does 
not divest them of their power, but the consideration 
of the power they are intrusted with, should prevail 
to divest them of their wickedness. "You are rulers 
and elders, and should know more than others of 
the signs of the times, and not oppose that which 
you are bound by the duty of your place to embrace 
and advance, that is, the kingdom of the Messiah ; 
you are rulers and elders of Israel, God's people, 
and if you mislead them, and cause them to err, you 
will have a great deal to answer for." 

3. What the plea is ; it is a solemn declaration. 
(1.) That what they did was in the name of Jesus 

Christ, which was a direct answer to the question 
the court asked them ; {v. 9, 10.) " If we this day 
be examined, be called to an account as criminals, 
so the word signifies, for a good deed (as anv one 
will own it to be) done to the impotent man, if this 
be the ground of the commitment, this the matter 
of the indictment, if we are put to the question, by 
what means, or by whom, he is made whole; we 
have an answer ready, and it is the same we gave to 
the people, (ch. 3. 16.) we will repeat it to you, as 
that which we will stand by. Be it known to you all 
who pretend to be ignorant of this matter, and not 
to you only, but to all the people of Israel, for they 
are all concerned to know it, that by the name of 
Jesus Christ, that precious, powerful, prevailing 
name, that name above every name, even by him 
whom you in contempt called Jesus of J\'azareth, 
whom vou crucified, both rulers and people, and 
whom God hath raised from the dead, and advanced 
to the highest dignity and dominion, even bj^ him 
doth this man stand here before you whole ; a mo- 
nument of the power of the Lord Jesus." Here, 

[1.] He justifies what he and his colleague had 
done in curing the lame man ; it was a good deed j 
it was a kindness to the man that had begged, but 
could not work for his living ; a kindness to the 
temple, and to them that went in to worship, Avho 
were now freed from the noise and clamour of that 
common beggar. "Now if we be reckoned with 
for this good deed, we have no reason to be asham- 
ed, 1 Pet. 2. 20. ch. 4. 14, 16. Let them be ashamed, 
who bring us into trouble for it. " Note, It is no new 
thing for good men to suffer ill for doing well. Bene 
agere iJf male pati vere christianum est — To do well 
and to suffer punishment is the christian's lot. 

[2.] He transfers all the praise and glory of that 
good deed to Jesus Christ. " It is by him, and not by 
any power of our's, that this man is cured." He 
seeks not to raise an interest for themselves, or to 
recommend themselves by it to the good opinion of 
the court ; but, " Let the Lord alone be exalted, no 
matter what comes of us." 

[3.] He charges it upon the judges themselves. 



38 



THE ACTS, IV. 



Ihat they had been the ihurderers of this Jesus ; " It 
is he nvhovi ye crucified, look how you will answer 
it ;" in order to the bringing of them to believe in 
Christ, (for he aims at no less than that, ) he en- 
deavours to convince them of sin, of that sin which, 
one would think, of all others, was most likely to 
startle conscience — their putting Christ to death. 
Let them take it how they will, Peter will miss no 
occasion to tell them of it. 

[4. ] He attests the resurrection of Christ as the 
strongest testimony for him, and against his perse- 
cutors ; ^^ They crucified him, but God raised him 
from the dead, they took away his life, but God 
gave it him again, and your further opposition to his 
interest will speed no better." He tells them that 
God raised him frovi the dead, and they could not 
for shame answer him with that foolish suggestion, 
that they palmed upon the people, that his discifiles 
came by night and stole him away, 

[5.] He preaches this to all the by-standers, to be 
by them repeated to all their neighbours, and com- 
mands all manner of pei'sons, from the highest to the 
lowest, to take notice of it at their peril; " Be it 
known to you all, that are here present, and it shall 
be made known to all the /leo/ile of Israel, wherever 
they are dispersed, in spite of all your endeavours 
to stifle and suppress the notice of it ; as the Lord 
God of gods knows, so Israel shall know, all Israel 
shall know, that wonders are wrought in the name 
of Jesus, not by repeating it as a charm, but believ- 
ing in it as a divine revelation of grace and good will 
to men. 

(2. ) That the name of this Jesus, by the authority 
of which they acted, is that name alone by which 
men can be saved. He passes from this particular 
instance to shew that it is not a particular sect, a 
party, that is designed to be set up by the doctrine 
they preached, and the miracle they wrought, which 
people might either join with, or keep off from, at 
their pleasure, as it was with the sects of the philo- 
sophers, and those among the Jews ; but it is a sa- 
cred and divine institution that is hereby ratified and 
confirmed, and which all people are highly con- 
cerned to submit to, and come into the measures of. 
It is not an indifferent thing, but of an absolute ne- 
cessity, that people believe in this name, and call 
upon it. 

[1.] We are obliged to it, in duty to God, and in 
compliance with his designs; (y. 11.) " This is the 
Stone which was set at nought of you builders, you 
that are the rulers of the /leo/ilc, and the elders of 
Israel, that should be the builders of the church, 
that pretend to be so ; for the church is God's build- 
ing. Here was a Stone offered you, to be put in the 
chief place of the building, to be the main Pillar on 
which the fabric might entirely rest ; but you set it 
at nought, rejected it, would not make use of it, but 
threw It by as good for nothing but to make a step- 
ping-stone of ; but this Stone is 7iow become the Head 
of the corner ; God has raised u/i this Jesus, whom 
you rejected, and, by setting him at his right hand, 
has made him both the Corner- Stone and the Head- 
Stone, the Centre of unity and the Fountain of pow- 
er." Probably, St. Peter here chose to make use 
of this quotation, because Christ had himself made 
use of it in answer to the demand of the chief priests 
and the elders concerning his authority, not long 
oefore tills. Matt. 21. 42. Scripture is a tried 
weapon in our spiritual conflicts ; let us therefore 
stick to it. 

[2. ] We are obliged to it for our own interest We 
are undone if we do not take shelter in this name, 
and make it our refuge and strong tower ; for we 
cannot be saved but by Jesus Christ, and if we be 
not eternally saved, we are eternally undone ; (v. 
12. ) JVeither is there salvation in any other. As there 
is no other name bv which diseased bodies can be 



cured, so there is no other by which sinful souls can 
be saved. " By him, and him only, by receiving 
and embracing his doctrine, salvation must now be 
hoped for by all. For there is no other religion in 
the world, no not that delivered by Moses, by which 
salvation can be had for those that do not now come 
into this, at the preaching of it. " So Dr. Hammond. 
Observe here, lurst. Our salvation is our chief con- 
cern, and that which ought to lie nearest our hearts ; 
our rescue from wrath and the curse, and our resto- 
ration to God's favour and blessing. Secondly, Our 
salvation is not in ourselves, nor can be obtained by 
any merit or strength of our own ; we can destroy 
ourselves, but we cannot save ourselves. Thirdly, 
There are among men many names that pretend to 
be saving names, but really are net so ; many insti- 
tutions in religion that pretend to settle a reconcilia- 
tion and correspondence between God and man, but 
cannot do it. Fourthly, It is only by Christ and his 
name that those favours can be expected from God, 
which are necessary to our salvation, and that our 
services can be accepted with God. This is the ho- 
nour of Christ's name, that it is the only name 
whereby we must be saved; the only name we have 
to plead in all our addresses to God. This name is 
given, God has appointed it, and it is an inestimable 
benefit freely conferred upon us. It is given under 
heaven ; Christ has not only a great name in heaven^ 
but a great name under heaven ; for he has all 
power both in the upper and in the lower world. It 
is given among men, who need salvation, men who 
are ready to perish. W^e may be saved by his namC} 
tliat name of his. The Lord our Righteousness ; and 
we cannot be saved by any other. How far those 
who have not the knowledge of Christ, nor any ac- 
tual faith in him, yet live up to the light they have, 
may find favour with God, it is not our business to 
determine. But this we know, that, whatever sav- 
ing favour such may receive, it is upon the account 
of Christ, and for his sake only ; so that still there is 
no salvation in any other. I have sumamed thee, 
though thou, hast not known me, Isa. 45. 4. 

IV. The stand that the court was put to, in the 
prosecution by this plea, v. 13, 14. Now was ful- 
filled that promise Christ made, that he would give 
them a inouth and wisdom, such as all their adver- 
saries should not be able to gainsay or resist. 

1. They could not deny the cure of the lame man 
to be both a good deed tind a miracle ; he was there 
standing with Peter and John, ready to attest the 
cure, if there was occasion, and tliey had nothing to 
say against it, (v. 14. ) either to disprove it, or to 
disjmrage it. It was well that it was not on the sab- 
bath-day, else they would have had that to say 
against it. 

2. They could not, with all their pomp and power, 
face down Peter and John ; this was a miracle not 
inferior to the cure of the lame man, considering 
botli what cruel bloody enemies these priests had 
been to the name of Christ, (enough to make any 
one tremble that appeared for him,) and considei-ing 
what cowardly faint-hearted advocates tliose disci- 
ples had lately been for him ; Peter particularly, 
who denied him for fear of a silly maid ; yet now 
they see the boldness of Peter and John, v. 13. 
Probably, there was something extraordinaiy and 
very surprising in their looks, they appeared not 
only undaunted by the rulers, but daring and daunt- 
ing to them ; they had something majestic in tlieir 
foreheads, sparkling in their eyes, and commanding, 
if not terrifying, in their voice. They set their faces 
like a flint, as the prophet, Isa. 50. 7. Ezek. 3. 8. 
The courage of Christ's faitliful confessors has often 
been the confusion of their cruel jiersccutors. Now, 

(1.) We are here told what increased their won- 
der ; They /lercetved that they vjere ujileamed and 
igriorant men : they inquired either of themselves 



THE ACTS, IV. 



39 



nr others, and found that they were of mean extrac- 
tion, bom in Galilee, that they were bred fishermen, 
and had no learned education, had never been at any 
university, were not brought up at the feet of any of 
the Rabbins, had never been conversant in courts, 
camps, or colleges; nay, perhaps talk to them at 
this time upon any point in natural philosophy, ma- 
thematics, or politics, and you will find they know 
nothing of the matter ; and yet speak to them of the 
Messiah and his kingdom, and they speak with so 
much clearness, evidence, and assurance, so perti- 
nently, and so fluently, and are so ready in the scrip- 
tures of the Old Testament relating to it, that the 
leaniedest judge upon the bench is not able to an- 
swer them, or to enter the lists with them. They 
were ignorant men — ISxZthi, firivate men, men that 
had not any public character or employment ; and 
therefore they wondered they should have such high 
pretensions. They were fc?zo^s; (so the word signi- 
fies ;) they looked upon them with as much con- 
tempt as if they had been mere 7iaturals, and ex- 
pected no more from them, which made them won- 
der to see what freedom they took. 

(2.) We are told what made their wonder in a 
great measure to cease ; they took knowledge of 
them that they had been ivith Jesus ; they them- 
selves, it is probable, had seen them with him in the 
temple, and now recollected that they had seen 
them, or some of their servants or those about them 
informed them of it, for they would not be thought 
themselves to have taken notice of such inferior peo- 
ple. But when they understood that they had been 
TJith Jesus, had been conversant with him, attendant 
on him, and trained up under him, they knew what 
to impute their boldness to ; nay, their boldness in 
divine things was enough to shew with whom they 
had had their education. Note, Those that have 
been TJith Jesus, in converse and communion with 
him, have been attending on his word, praying in 
his name, and celebrating the memorials of his 
death and resurrection, should conduct themselves, 
in every thing, so that those who converse with 
them, may take knowledge of them that they have 
been with Jesus. And that makes them so holy, 
and lieavenly, and spiritual, and cheerful ; that has 
raised them so much above this world, and filled 
them with another. One may know that they have 
been in the mount by the shining of their faces. 

15. But when they had commanded 
them to go aside out of the council, they 
conferred among themselves, 16. 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 dwell 
in Jerusalem ; and we cannot deny it. 1 7. 
But that it spread no further among the 
people, let us straitly threaten them, that 
they speak henceforth to no man in this 
name. 18. And they called them, and 
commanded them not to speak at all nor 
teach in the name of Jesus. 19. 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 farther threatened 
them, they let them go, finding nothing 
how they might punish them, because of 
the people: for all men glorified God for 



that which was done. 22. For the man 
was above forty years old, on whom this 
miracle of healing was shewed. 

We have here the issue of the trial of Peter and 
John before the council ; they came off now with 
flying colours, because they must be trained up to 
sufferings by degrees ; and by lesser trials be pre- 
pared for greater ; they now but run with the foot 
men, hereafter we shall have them contending with 
horses, Jer. 12. 5. 

I. Here is the consultation and resolution of the 
court about this matter, and their proceeding there- 
upon. 

1. The prisoners were ordered to withdraw ; {y. 
15.) They commanded them to go aside out of the 
council; willing enough to get clear of them, (they 
spake so home to their consciences,) and not willing 
they should hear the acknowledgments that were 
extorted from them : but though they might not 
hear them, we have them here upon record. The 
designs of Christ's enemies are carried on in close 
cabals, and they dig deep, as if they would hide their 
councils from the Lord. 

2. A debate arose upon this matter ; they confer ■ 
red among themselves ; every one is desired to speak 
his mind freely, and to give advice upon this im- 
portant affair.' J\'ow the scri/iture was fulfilled, 
that the rulers would take counsel together against 
the Lord, and against his anointed, Ps. 2. 2. The 
question proposed, was, JVhat shall we do to these 
men? v. 16. If they would have yielded to the 
convincing commanding power of truth, it had been 
easy to say what they should do to these men. They 
should have placed them at the head of their coun- 
cil, and i-eceive their doctrine, and been baptized 
by them in the name of the Lord Jesus, and joined 
in fellowship with them. But when men will not be 
persuaded to do what they should do, it is no marvel 
that they are ever and anon at a loss what to do. 
The truths of Christ, if men would but entertain 
them as they should, would give them no manner 
of trouble or uneasiness ; but if they hold them or 
imprison them m unrighteousness, (Rom. 1. 18.) 
they will find them a burthensome stone that they 
will not know what to do with, Zech. 12. 3. 

3. They came at last to a resolution, in two things. 
(1.) That it was not safe to punish the apostles 

for what they had done ; very willingly they would 
have done it, but they had not courage to do it, be- 
cause the people espoused their cause, and cried up 
the miracle ; and they stood now in as much awe of 
them as they had done formerly, when tliey durst 
not lay hands on Christ for fear of the /leofile. By 
which it appears that the outcry of the mob against 
our Saviour, was a forced or managed thing, the 
stream soon returned to its former channel. Now 
they could not find how they might jiunish Peter 
arid John, what colour they might have for it, be- 
cause of the people. They knew it would be an un- 
righteous thing to punish them, and therefore should 
have been restrained from it by the fear of God ; 
but they considered it only as a dangerous thing, and 
therefoi-e were held in from it, only by the fear of 
the people. For, 

[1.] The people were convinced of the truth of 
the miracle ; it was a notable miracle, yiu^ly anixtioy 
— a known miracle ; it was known that they did it in 
Christ's name, and that Christ himself had often 
done the like before ; this was a known instance of 
the power of Christ and a proof of his doctrine ; that 
it was a great miracle, and wrought for the con 
firmation of the doctrine they preached, (for it was 
a sign,) was manifest to all that dwelt in Jerusalem ; 
it was an opinion universally received, and the niira 
cle being wrought at the gate of the temple, univer- 
sal notice was taken of it ; and they themselves, with 



40 



THE ACTS, IV. 



all the craft and all the front they had, could not 
deny it to be a true miracle ; every body would have 
hooted at them if they had. They could easily deny 
it to their own consciences, but not to the world. 
The proofs of the gospel were undeniable. 

[2. J They went further, and were not only con- 
vinced of the truth of the miracle, but all men glo- 
rified God for that which was done ; even those that 
were not persuaded by it to belie\e in Christ, were 
yet so affected with it as a mercy to a poor man, and 
an honoiu- to their country, that they could not but 
give praise to God for it ; even natural religion taught 
them to do that. And if the priests had punished 
Ftter and Johji for that for whicli all men glorified 
God, they woald have lost all their interest in the 
people, and been abandoned as enemies both to God 
and man. Thus therefore their wrath shall be 
made to praise God, and the remainder thereof %]\?\\ 
be restrained. 

(2.) They yet resolve, that it is necessary to 
silence them for the future, v. 17, 18. They could 
not prove that they had said or done any thing amiss, 
and yet they must no more say or do what they have 
done. All their care is, that the doctrine of Christ 
sfiread no further among the people ; as if that heal- 
ing institution were a plague begun, the contagion 
of which must be stopped. See how the malice of 
hell fights against the counsels of heaven ; God will 
have the knowledge of Christ to spread all the world 
over, but the chiet priests would have it spread ?20 
further, which he that sits in heaven laughs at. 

Now, to prevent the further spreading of this doc- 
trine, 

[1.] They charge the apostles never to preach it 
any more. Be it enacted by their authority, (which 
they think every Israelite is bound in conscience to 
submit to,) That no man speak at all or teach in the 
name of Jesus, v. 18. We do not find that they give 
them any reason why tlie doctrine of Christ must be 
suppressed ; they cannot say it is either false or dan- 
gerous, or of any ill tendency, and they are ashamed 
to own the true reason, that it testifies against their 
hypocrisy and wickecbiess, and shocks their tyrannv. 
But, Stat pro ratione voluntas — They can assign no 
reason but their will. "V\'e straitly charge and 
command you, not only that you do not preach this 
doctrine publicly, but that yc speak henceforth to no 
man, not to any particular person privately, in this 
name," v. 17. There is not a greater scrs'ice done 
to the Devil's kingdom than the silencing of faithful 
ministers, and the putting them under a bushel that 
are the lights of tlie world. 

[2.] They threaten them if they do, straitly 
threaten them : it is at tlieir peril. This court will 
reckon itself highly affronted if they do, and they 
shall fall under its displeasure. Christ had not only 
charged them to preach the gospel to every creature, 
but had promised to bear them out in 'it, and re- 
ward them for it. Now these priests not only for- 
bid them to preach the gospel, but threaten to pun- 
ish it as a heinous crime; but those who know how 
to put a just value upon Christ's promises, know 
how to put -A just contemfit upon the world's threaten- 
ings, though they be threatenings of slaughter that 
it breathes out, ch. 9. 1. 

II. Here is the courageous resolution of the pri- 
soners to go on in their work, notwithstanding the 
resolutions of this court, and their declaration of this 
resolution, v. 19, 20. Peter and John needed not 
confer together, to know one another's minds, (for 
they were botli actuated l)y one and the same Spirit,) 
but agree presently in the same sentiments, and 
jointly put in the answer, " Whether it be right in 
the sight of God, to wliom both you and we are ac- 
countable, to hearken unto you more than unto God, 
we appeal to yourselves, ^j^r/^r ye; for we cannot 
forbear speaking to every body the things which we 



have seen and heard, and are oursleves full of, and 
are charged to publish." The prudence of the ser- 
pent would have directed them to be silent, and 
though they could not with a good conscience pro- 
mise that they would not preach the gospel any 
more, yet they needed not tell them that they would. 
But the boldriess of the lion directed them thus to 
set both the authority and the malignity of their per- 
secutors at defiance. 

They do, in effect, tell them that they are resolved 
to go on in preaching, and justify themselves in it 
with two things. 

1. The commayid of God ; "You charge us not to 
preach the gospel, he has charged us to preach it, 
has conuTiitted it to us as a trust, requiring us upon 
our allegiance faithfully to dispense it ; now whom 
must we obey ; God or you ?" There they appeal 
to one of the com?nu?ies notitipe — to a settlecf and ac- 
knowledged maxim in the law of nature, that if 
men's commands and God's interfere, God's com- 
mands must take place. It is a rule in the coimnoyi- 
law of England, that if any statute be made con- 
trary to the law of God, it is null and void. Nothing 
can be more absurd than to hearken unto weak and 
fallible men that ai-e fellow-creatures and fellow- 
subjects, more than unto a God that is infinitely wise 
and holy, our Creator and sovereign Lord, and the 
Judge to whom we are all accountable. The case is 
so plain, so uncontroverted and self-evident, that we 
will venture to leave it to yourselves to judge of it, 
though you are biassed and prejudiced. Can you 
think it right in the sight of God to break a divine 
command in obedience to a human injunction? 
That is right indeed, which is right in the sight of 
God ; for his judgment, we are sure, is according to 
truth, and therefore by that we ought to govern our- 
selves. 

2. The convictions of their consciences ; though 
they had not had such an express command from 
heaven to preach the doctrine of Christ, yet they 
could not but speak, and speak publicly, those things 
which they had seen and heard. Like Elilni, they 
were full of this matter, and the Spirit within them 
constrained them, thev must s]ieak, that thev might 
be refreshed, Job 32. 18, 20. (1.) They felt the'jn- 
flucnce of it npon themselves, what a blessed change 
it has wi-ought upon them, has brought them into a 
new world, and therefore they cannot hut speak of 
it : and those speak the doctrine of Christ best, that 
have felt the power of it, and tasted the sweetness 
of it, and have themselves been deeply affected with 
it ; it is as ^fire in their bones, Jer. 20. 9. (2.) They 
know the importance of it to others ; they look with 
concern upon perishing souls, and know they cannot 
escape eternal ruin but by Jesus Christ, and there- 
fore will be faithful to them in giving them warning 
and shewing them the right way. They arc things 
which we have seen and heard, and therefore are 
fully assured of ourselves ; and things wliich we only 
have seen and heard : and therefore, if wc do not 
publish them, who will ? Who can? A'nowing the 
favour, as well as the terror, of the Lord, we per- 
suade 7nen ; for the love of Christ and the love of 
souls constrain us, 2 Cor. 5. 11, 14. 

III. There is the discharge of the prisoners ; (t. 
21.) They further threatened them, and thought 
that they frightened them, and then let them go. 
There were many whom they terrified into an 
obedience to their unrighteous decrees ; they knew 
how to keej) men in awe with their excommunica- 
tions, (John 9. 22.) and thouglit they could have the 
same influence ujjon the apostles that they had upon 
other men ; but thev were deceived, fiir they had 
been with Jesus. They threatened them, and that 
was all they did now ; when they liad done that, 

1 they let them go. 

I i. Because they durst not contradict the people, 



THE ACTS, IV. 



41 



who glorijied God for that which was done, and 
would have been ready (at least they thought so) to 
pull them out of their seats, if they had punished the 
apostles for doing it. As rulers by the ordinance of 
God are made a terror and restraint to wicked peo- 
ple^ so people are sometimes by the providence of 
God made a terror and restraint to wicked rulers. 

2. Because they could not contradict the miracle ; 
For (v. 22.) the ?nan was above forty years old, on 
whom this, miracle of healing was shewed. And 
therefore, ( 1. ) The miracle was so much the greater; 
he having been \a.m& from his mother^s womb, ch. 3. 
2. The older he grew, the more inveterate the dis- 
ease was, and the more hardly cured. If those that 
are grown into years, and have been long accustom- 
ed to evil, are cured of their spiritual impotency to 
good, and thereby of their evil customs, the power 
of divine grace is therein so much the more magnifi- 
ed. (2. ) The truth of it was so much the better at- 
tested ; for the mail being above forty years old, he 
was able, like the blind man whom Christ healed, 
when he was asked, to speak for himself, John 9. 21. 

23. And being let go, they went to their 
own company, and reported all that the 
chief priests and elders had said unto them. 
24. And when they heard that, they lifted 
up their voice to God with one accord, and 
said. Lord, thou art God, which hast made 
heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that 
in them is : 25. Who by the mouth of thy 
servant David hast said, Why did the hea- 
tlien rage, and the people imagine vain 
things ? 26. The kings of the earth stood 
up, and the rulers were gathered together 
against the Lord, and against his Christ. 
27. For of a truth against thy holy child 
Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both He- 
rod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, 
and the people of Israel, were gathered to- 
gether, 28. For to do whatsoever thy hand 
and thy counsel determined before to be 
done. 29. And now. Lord, behold their 
threatenings : and grant unto thy servants, 
that with all boldness they may speak thy 
word, 30. By stretching forth thine hand to 
heal ; and that signs and wonders may be 
done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. 
31. And when they had prayed, the place 
was shaken where they were assembled to- 
gether ; and they were all filled with the 
Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of 
God with boldness. 

We hear no more at present of the chief priests, 
what they did when they had dismissed Peter and 
John, but are to attend those two witnesses. And 
here we have, 

I. Their return to their brethren, the apostles and 
ministers, and perhaps some private christians ; (y. 
23.) Being let go, they went to their own company, 
who perhaps were at this time niet together in pain 
for them, and praying for them ; as ch. 12. 12. As 
soon as ever they were at liberty, they went to their 
old friends, and returned to their church-fellowship. 

1. Though God had highly honoured them, m 
calling them out to be his witnesses, and enabling 
them to acquit themselves so well, yet they were not 
puffed up with the honour done them, nor thought 
themselves thereby exalted above their brethren, 

Vol. VI.— F 



but went to their own company. No advancement 
in gifts or usefulness should make us think ourselves 
above either the duties or the privileges of the com- 
munion of saints. 

2. Though their enemies had seveiely threatened 
them, and endeavoured to break their knot, and 
frighten them from the work they were jointly en- 
gaged in, yet xhey vjent to their own company, and 
feared not the wrath of their rulers. The} night 
have had comfort, if, being let go, they had retired 
to their closets, and spent some time in devotion 
there. But they were men in a put^lic station, and 
must seek not so much their own personal satisfac- 
tion, as the public good. Christ's followers do best 
in conipany, provided it be in their own coirtpany. 

II. The account they gave them of what had pass- 
ed ; they reported all that the chief priests and elders 
had said tinto them, adding, no doubt, what they 
were enabled by the grace of God to reply to them, 
and how their trial issued. They related it to them, 

1. That they might know what to expect both 
from men and from God in the progress of their 
work ; from men they might expect every thing 
that was terrifying, but from God every thing that 
was encouraging ; men would do their utmost to run 
them down, but God would take effectual care to 
bear them up. Thus the brethren in the Lord 
would wax confident through their bonds, and their 
experiences, as Phil. 1. 14. 

2. That they might have it recorded in the his- 
tory of the church, for the benefit of posterity, par- 
ticularly for the confirmation of our faith touching 
the resurrection of Christ. The silence of an adver- 
sary, in some cases, is next door to the consent and 
testimony of an adversary. These apostles told the 
chief priests to their faces, that God had raised up 
Jesus from the dead, and though they were a body 
of them together, they had not the confidence to 
deny it, but in the silliest and most sneaking man- 
ner imaginable, bid the apostles not tell any body 
ofit. ... 

3. That they might now join with them in prayers 
and praises ; and by such a concert as this God would 
be the more glorified, and the church the more 
edified. We should therefore communicate to our 
brethren the providences of God that relate to us, 
and our experience of his presence with us, that 
they may assist us in our acknowledgment of God 
therein. 

III. Their address to God upon this occasion; 
JVhen they heard of the impotent malice of the 
priests, and the potent courage of the sufferers, they 
called their company together, and went to prayer; 
they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, v. 
24. Not that it can be supposed that they all said 
the same words at the same time, (though it was 
possible they might, being all inspired by one and 
the same Spirit,) but one in the name of the rest 
lifted up his voice to God, and the rest joined with 
him, 0/u.cBuiuuSiv — with one mmd ; (so the word sig- 
nifies ;) their hearts went along with him, and so 
thougli but one spake, they all prayed ; one lifted 
tip his voice, and, in concurrence with him, thev all 
lifted up their hearts, which was, in effect, lifting 
up their voice to God ; for thoughts are words to 
God. Moses cried unto God, when we find not a 
word said. 

Now in this solemn address to God, we have, 
1. Their adoration of God as the Creator of the 
world ; (r. 24. ) With one mind, and so, in effect, 
with 07ie mouth, they glorified God, Rom. 15. 6. 
They said, " O Lord, thou art God, God alone ; 
Aia-TroTo., thou art our Master and sovereign Ruler," 
(so the word signifies,) "thou art God; God, and 
not man ; God, and not the work of men's hands ; 
the Creator of all, and not the creature of men's 
fancies. Thou art the God which hast made hea- 



-12 



THE ACTS, IV. 



ven and earth, and the sea, the upper and lower 
world, and all the creatures that are in both." 
Thus we christians distinguish ourselves from the 
heathen, that, while they worship gods which they 
have made, we are worshipping the God that made 
us and all the world. And it is veiy proper to begin 
our prayers, as well as our creed, with the acknow- 
ledgment of this, that God is the Father almighty. 
Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visi- 
ble and invisible. Though the apostles were at this 
time full of the mystery of the world's redemption, 
yet they do not forget or overlook the history of the 
world's creation ; for the christian religion was in- 
tended to confirm and improve, not to eclipse or 
iustle out, the truths and dictates of natural religion. 
It is a great encouragement to God's servants, both 
in doing work, and suffering work, that they serve 
the God that made all things, and therefore has the 
disposal of their times, and all events concerning 
them, and is able to strengthen them under all their 
difficulties. And if we give him the glory of this, 
we may take the comfort of it. 

2. Their reconciling themselves to the present dis- 
pensations of Providence, by reflecting upon those 
scriptures in the Old Testament which foretold that 
the kingdom of the Messiah would meet with such 
opposition as this at the first setting of it up in the 
world, V. -25, 26. God, who made heaven and earth, 
cannot meet with any [effectual] opposition to his 
designs, since none dare [at least, can prevailingly] 
dispute or contest with him. Yea, thus it was writ- 
ten, Thus he sjiake by the month, thus he wrote by 
the pen, of his servant David, who, as appears by 
this, was the penman of the second psalm, and there- 
fore, most probably, of the first, and other psalms 
that are not ascribed to any other, though they have 
not his name in the title. Let it not therefoi'e be a 
surprise to them, or any discouragement to any in 
embracing their doctrine, for the scri/iture must be 
fulfilled. It was foretold, Ps. 2. 1, 2. (1.) That 
the heathen would rage at Christ and his kingdom, 
and be angry at the attempts to set it up, because 
that would be the pulling down of the gods of the 
heathen, and giving check to the wickedness of the 
heathen. (2.) That the peo/ile would imagine all 
the things that could be against it, to silence the 
teachers of it, to discountenance the subjects of it, 
and to crush all the interests of it If they prove 
vain things in the issue, no thanks to them who ima- 
gined them. (3. ) That the kings of the earth, par- 
ticularly, would stand u/i in opposition to the king- 
dom of Christ, as if they were jealous (though there 
is no occasion for their being so) that it would inter- 
fere with their powers, and intrench upon their pre- 
rogatives. The kings of the earth, that are most 
favoured and honoured by Divine Providence, and 
should do most for God, are strangers and enemies 
to divine grace, and do most against God. (4. ) That 
the rulers would gather together against God and 
Christ; not only monarchs, that liave the power in 
their single persons, but there where the power is 
la. many rulers, councils, and senates, thev gather 
together, to consult and decree against the Lord, and 
against his Christ — against both natural and revealed 
religion. Wliat is done against Christ, God takes 
as done against himself. Christianity was not only 
destitute of the advantage of the countenance and 
support of kings and rulers, (it had neither their 
power nor their i)urses,) but it was opposed and 
Fought against by them, and they combined to nm 
it down, and yet it made its way. 

3. Tlieir representation of the present accomplish- 
ment of those ])rcdictions in the enmity and malice 
of the nilers against Christ. What was foretold we 
see fulfilled, v. 27, 28. It is of a truth, it is cer- 
tainly so, it is too plain to be denied, and in it ap- 
l)ears the truth of the prediction, that Herod and 



Pilate, the two Roman governors, with the Gentiles, 
(the Roman soldiers under their command,) and 
with the fieofile of Israel, (the rulers of the Jews and 
the mob that is under their influence, ) were gathered 
together in a confederacy against the Holy Child 
Jesus whom thou hast anointed. Some copies add 
another circumstance, W tm 'orixu tm raulyt-y-in this 
thy holy city, where, above any place, he 'should 
have been welcomed. But herein they do that ivhich 
thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be 
done. See here, ( 1. ) The wise and holy designs God 
had concerning Christ. He is here called the Child 
Jesus, as he was called (Luke 2. 27, 43. ) in his in- 
fancy, to intimate that even in his exalted state he 
is not ashamed of his condescensions for us, and that 
he continues meek and lowly in heart. In the height 
of his glory he is the Lamb of God, and the Child 
Jesus. But he is the Holy Child Jesus, (so he was 
called, Luke 1. 35. that Holy Thing,) and thy holy 
Child ; the word signifies both a son and a servant, 
Traiict a-v ; he was the Son of God ; and yet in the work 
of redemption he acted as his Father's Servant, (Isa. 
42. 1.) My Servaiit whom I ufihold. It was he 
whom God anointed, both qualified for the under- 
taking, and called to it ; and thence he was called 
the Lord's Christ, v. 26. And this comes in as a 
reason why they set themselves with so much rage 
and violence against him, because God had anointed 
him, and they were resolved not to resign, much less 
to submit to him. David was envied by Saul, be- 
cause he was the Lord's anointed. And the Philis- 
tines came up to seek David when they heard he 
was anointed, 2 Sam. 5. 17. Now the God that 
anointed Christ, determined what should be done to 
him, pursuant to that anointing ; he was anointed to 
be a Saviour, and therefore it was determined he 
should be a Sacrifice, to make atonement for sin ; he 
must die therefore, he must be slain, yet not by his 
own hands; therefore God wisely determined before 
by what hands it should be done, it must be by tlie 
hands of those who will treat him as a criminal and 
malefactor, and therefore it cannot be done by the 
hands either of angels or good men ; he must there- 
fore be delivered into the hands of sinners, as Job 
was, ch. 16. 11. And as David was delivered to 
Shimei to be 7nade a curse; (2 Sam. 16. 11.) The 
Lord has bidden him. God's hand and his counsel 
determined it, his will, and his wisdom. God's hand, 
which properly denotes his executive power, is here 
put for his purpose and decree, because with him 
saying and doing are not two things, as they are with 
us. His hand and his counsel always agree ; for 
whatsoever the Lord pleased that did he. Dr. Ham- 
mond makes tliis phrase of God's hand determining 
it, to be an allusion to the High-Priest's casting lots 
upon the ttvo goats on the day of atonejiient, (Lev. 
16. 8.) in which he lifted up "the hand that he hap- 
pened to have the lot for the Lord in, and that goat 
on which it fell was immediately sacrificed ; and the 
disposal of this lot was from the Lord, Prov. 16. 33. 
Thus God's hand determined what sliould be done, 
that Christ should l)e the Sacrifice slain. Or, (if I 
may offer a conjecture,) when God's hand is here 
said to determine, it may be meant, not of God's act- 
ing hand, but his writing hand, as, (Job 13. 26.) 
Thou writest bitter things against us ; and God's de- 
cree is said to be that which is written in the scri/i- 
tiires of truth, (Dan. 10. 31.) and in the volume of 
the book it was written of Christ, Ps. 40. 7. It was 
God's hand that wi-ote it, his hand according to his 
counsel. The commission was given under his hand. 
(2.) The wicked and unholy instruments that were 
employed in the executing of this desii^n, though 
they meant not so, neither did their hearts think so. 
Herod and Pilate, Gentiles and Jews, who had been 
at vai-iance with each other, united against Christ. 
And God's serxnng his own purfioses by what they 



THE ACTS, IV. 



43 



(lid, was no excuse at all for theii* malice and wick- 
t;dness in the doing of it, any more than God's mak- 
ing the blood of the martyrs the seed of the chmxh 
extenuated the guilt of their bloody persecutors. Sin 
is not the less evil for God's bringing good out of it, 
but he is by that the more glorified, and will be so, 
when the mystery of God shall be finished. 

4. Their petition with reference to the case at this 
time. The enemies ivere gathered together against 
Christ, and then no wonder that they were so against 
his ministers ; the disciple is not better than his Mas- 
ter, nor must expect better treatment; but, being 
thus insulted, they pray, 

(1.) That God would take cognizance of the ma- 
lice of their enemies ; JVbw, Lord, behold their 
threatenings, v. 29. Behold them, as thou art said 
to behold them in the psalm before quoted, (Ps. 2. 4. ) 
when they thought to break his bands asunder, and 
cast away his cords from them; he that sits in heaven, 
laughs at them, and has them in derision ; and theri 
the virgin, the daughter of Zion, 7nay desfiise the 
impotent menaces even of the great king, the king 
of Assyria, Isa. 37. 22. And now. Lord ; to vZv ; 
there is an emphasis upon the now, to intimate that 
the7i is God's time to appear for his people, when the 
power of their enemies is most daring and threaten- 
ing. They do not dictate to God what he shall do, 
but i-efer themselves to him, like Hezekiah; (Isa. 37. 
17.) " Ojien thine eyes, O Lord, and see; thou know- 
est what they say, thou behcldest mischief and sjiite , 
(Ps. 10. l4.)'to thee we appeal, behold their threat- 
enings, and either tie their hands, or turn their 
hearts ; make their wrath, as far as it is let loose, to 
praise thee, and the remainder thereof do thou re- 
strain," Ps. 76. 10. It is a comfort to us, that if we 
are unjustly threatened, and bear it patiently, we 
may make ourselves easy by spreading the case be- 
fore the Lord, and leaving it with him. 

(2.) That God, by his grace, would keep up their 
spirits, and animate them to go on cheerfully with 
their work ; Grant unto thy servants, that with all 
boldness they may speak thy word, though the priests 
and rulers have enjoijied them silence. Note, In 
threatening times, our cart should not be so much 
that troubles may be prevented, as that we may be 
enabled to go on with cheerfulness and resolution in 
our work and duty, whatever troubles we may meet 
with. Their prayer is not, '• Lord, behold their 
threatenings, and frighten them, and stop their 
mouths, and fill their faces with shame ;" but, "Be- 
hold their threatenings, and animate us, open our 
mouths and fill our hearts with courage. " They do 
not pray, " Lord, give us a fair opportunity to retire 
from our work, now that it is become dangerous ;" 
but, " Lord, give us grace to go on in our work, and 
not to be afraid of the face of man." Observe, [1.] 
Those that are sent on God's errands, ought to de- 
liver their message with boldness, with all boldness, 
with all liberty of speech, not shunning to declare 
the whole counsel of God, whoever is offended ; not 
doubting of what they say, or of being borne out in 
saying it. [2.] God is to be sought unto for an abi- 
lity to speak his word with boldness, and those that 
desire divine aids and encouragements, may depend 
upon them, and ought to go forth, and go on, in the 
strength of the Lord God. [3.] The threatenings 
of our enemies, that are designed to weaken our 
hands, and drive us off from our work, should rather 
stir us up to so much the more courage and resolu- 
tion in our work. Are they daring, that fight against 
Christ ? For shame, let not us be sneaking, that are 
for him. 

(3.) That God would still give them power to 

work miracles for the confirmation of the doctnne 

they preached, which, by the cure of the lame man, 

. they foimd to contribute very much to their success, 

and would contribute abundantly to their further 



progress. Lord, grant ua boldness, by stretching 
forth thine hand to heal. Note, Nothing imboldens 
faithful ministers more in their work, than the tokens 
of God's presence with them, and a divine powers 
going along with them. They pray, [1. ] That God 
would stretch forth his hand to heal, both the bodies 
and souls of men ; else in vain do they stretch forth 
their hands, either in preaching, (Isa. 65. 2. ) or in 
curing. [2.] That sig?is and wo?iders might be done 
by the name of the holy Child Jesus, which would 
be convincing to the people, and confounding to the 
enemies. Clirist had promised them a power to 
work miracles, for the proof of their commission ; 
(Mark 16. 17, 18.) yet they must pray for it; and, 
though they had it, must pray for the continuance 
of it. Christ himself must ask, and it shall be given 
him. Observe, It is tlie honour of Christ that they 
aim at in this request, that the wonder might be done 
by the name of Jesus, the holy Child Jesus, and his 
name shall have all the glory. 

IV. The gracious answer God gave to this address, 
not in word, but in power. 

1. God gave them a sign of the acceptance of their 
prayers; {v. 31.) When they had prayed, (perhaps 
many of them prayed successively, one by one, ac- 
cording to the rule, (1 Cor. 14. 31.) and when they 
had concluded the work of the day,) the place was 
shaken where they were assembled together, there 
was a strong mighty wind, such as that when the 
Spirit was poured out upon them, {ch. 2. 1, 2. ) which 
shook the house, which was now their house of prayer. 
This shaking of the place was designed to strike an 
awe upon them, and to awaken and raise their ex- 
pectations, and to give them a sensible token that 
God was with them of a truth : and perhaps it was 
to put them in mind of that prophecy, (Hag. 2. 7.) 
I will shake all nations, and will Jill this house with 
glory. This was to shew them what reason they 
had to fear God more, and then they would fear man 
less. He that shook this place, could make the 
hearts of those who threatened his servants thus, to 
tremble, for he cuts off the spirit of princes, and is 
terrible to the kings of the earth. The place was 
shaken, that their faith might be established and un- 
shaken. 

2. God gave them greater degrees of his Spirit, 
which was the thing they prayed for ; their prayer, 
without doubt, was accepted, for it was answered, 
they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than 
ever ; by which they were not only encouraged, but 
enabled', to speak the word of God with boldness, 
and not to be afraid of the proud and haughty looks 
of men. The Holy Ghost taught them not only what 
to speak, but how to speak. Those that were en- 
dued habitually with the powers of the Holy Ghost, 
had yet occasion for fresh supplies of the Spirit, ac- 
cording as the various occurrences of their service 
were. They vieve: filled with the Holy Ghost at the 
bar, {v. 8.) and now filled with the Holy Ghost in 
the pulpit ; which teaches us to live in an actual de- 
pendence upon the grace of God, according as the 
duty of every day requires ; we need to be anointed 
with fresh oil upon every fresh occasion. As in the 
providence of God, so in the grace of God, we not 
only in general live, and have our being, but inove 
in eveiy particular action, ch. 17. 28. We have 
here an'instance of the performance of that promise, 
that God will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask 
him ; (Luke 11. 13.) for it was in answer to prayer 
that they were filled with the Holy Ghost ; and 'we 
have also an example of the improvement of that 
gift, which is required of all on whom it is bestowed; 
have it and use it, use it, and have more of it. When 
they were filled with the Holy Ghost, they spake the 
word with all boldness ; for the ministration of the 
Spirit is given to every man, to profit withal. Ta- 
lents must be traded with, not buried, ^^'hen they 



44 



THE ACTS, IV. 



find the Lord God helfi them by his Spirit, they know 
they shall not be confounded, Isa. 50. 7. 

32. And the multitude of them that be- 
lieved were of one heart and of one soul : 
neither said any of them that aught of the 
things which he possessed was his own ; 
but they liad all things common. 33. And 
with great power gave the apostles witness 
of tile resurrection of the Lord Jesus : and 
great grace was upon them all. 34. Nei- 
ther was there any among them that lack- 
ed : for as many as were possessors of lands 
or houses sold them, and brought the prices 
of the things that were sold, 35. And laid 
them down at the apostles' feet : and dis- 
tribution was made unto every man ac- 
cording as he had need. 36. And Joses, 
who by the apostles was surnamed Barna- 
bas, (which is, being interpreted. The son 
of consolation,) a Levite, and of the coun- 
try of Cyprus, 37. Having land, sold it, 
and brought the money, and laid it at the 
apostles' feet. 

We have a general idea given us in these verses, 
and it is a very beautiful one, of the spirit and state 
of this truly primitive church ; it is conspectus sceculi 
— a view of that age of infancy and innocence. 

I. The disciples loved one another dearly. Be- 
hold, how good and how pleasant it was to see how 
the midtitude o them that believed, were of one 
heart, and of one soul, (v. 32.) and there was no 
such thing as discord or division among them. Ob- 
serve here, 

1. There were multitudes that believed; even in 
Jerusalem, where the malignant influence of the 
chief priests was most strong, there were three thou- 
sand converted on one day, and Jive thousand on 
another, and, beside those, there wei'e added to the 
church daily ; and, no doubt, they were all baptized, 
and made profession of the faith ; for the same Spirit 
that endued the apostles with courage to preach the 
faith of Christ, endued them with courage to confess 
it. _ Note, The increase ot the church \s the glory 
of it, and the multitude of them that believe, more 
than their quality. Now the church shines, and 
her light is come, when souls thus fly like a cloud 
into her bosom, and like doves to their windows, Isa. 
60. 1, 8. 

2. They were all of one heart, and of one soul. 
Though there were many, very many, of different 
ages, tempers, and conditions, in the world, who, 
perhajjs, before they believed, were perfect stran- 
gers to one another, yet, when they met in Christ, 
they were as intimately acquainted as if they had 
known one another many years. Perhaps, they had 
been of different sects among the Jews, before their 
conversion, or had had discords upon civil accounts ; 
but now those were all forgotten, and laid aside, and 
they were unanimous in the faitli of Christ, and, be- 
ing all joined to the Lord, they were joined to one 
another in holy love. This was the blessed fruit of 
Christ's dying precept to his disciples, to love one 
another, and his dving prayer for them, that they all 
might he one. We have reason to think thev di- 
vided themselves into several congregations, or wor- 
shipping assemljlics, according as their dwellings 
were, under their respective ministers ; and yet that 
occasioned no jealousy or uneasiness ; for they were 
all of one heart, and one soul, notwithstanding ; and 
loved those of other congregations, as truly as those 



of their own. Thus it was then, and we may not 
despair of seeing it so again, when the Spirit shall be 
floured out ufion us from on high. 

II. The ministers went on in their work witli 
great vigour and success ; {v. S3.) With great power 
gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the 
Lord Jesus. The doctrine they preached, was, the 
resurrection of Christ : a matter of fact, which 
served not only for the confirmation of the truth of 
Christ's holy religion, but, being duly explained 
and illustrated, with the proper inferences from it, 
served for a summary of all the duties, privileges, 
and comforts, of christians. The resurrection of 
Christ, rightly understood and improved, will let us 
into the great mysteries of religion. 

"Qy the great power, wherewith the apostles attested 
the resurrection, may be meant, 

1. The great vigour, spirit, and courage, with 
which they published and avowed this doctrine ; 
they do it not softly and diffidently, but with liveli- 
ness and resolution, as those that were themselves 
abundantly satisfied of the truth of it, and earnestly 
desired that others should be so too. Or, 

2. The miracles which they wrought to confirm 
their doctrine ; With works of great power, they 
gave witness to the resurrection of Christ, God him- 
self, in them, bearing witness too. 

III. The beauty of the Lord our God shone upon 
them, and all their performances ; Great grace was 
upon them all, not only all the apostles, but all the 
believers, ;ta>/? /xiyaKi, ; grace that had something 
great in it, (magnificent and very extraordinary,) 
was upon them all. 

1. Christ poured out abundance of grace upon 
them, such as qualified them for great services, by 
enduing them with great power ; it came u/ion them 
from on high, from above. 

2. There were evident fruits of this grace in all 
they said and did, such asput an honour upon them, 
and recommended them to the favour of God, as 
being in his sight of great price. 

3. Some think it includes the favour they were in 
with the people. Every one saw a beauty and ex- 
cellencv in them, and respected them. 

IV. They were very liberal to the poor, and dead 
to this world. This was as great an evidence of the 
grace of God in them as any other, and recom- 
mended them as much to the esteem of the people. 

1. They insisted not upon property, which even 
children seem to have a sense of, and a jealousy for, 
and which worldly people triumph in, as Laban, 
(Gen. 31. 43.) All that thou seestis mine ; and Na- 
bal, (1 Sam. 25. 11.) j\Iy bread and my water. 
These believers were so taken up with the hopes of 
an inheritance in the other world, that this was as 
nothing to them. J\'o man said that aught of the 
things which he possessed, was his own, v. 32. 'I'hey 
did not take away propeity, but they were indifTer- 
ent to it. They did not call what they had, their 
own, in a way of pride and vain-gloi-\-, boasting of 
it, or trusting in it. Thev did not call it their own, 
because they had, in affection, forsaken all for 
Christ, and were continually expecting to be 
stripped of all for their adherence to him. They 
did not say, that aught was their own ; for we can 
call nothing our own but sin ; what we have in the 
world, is more God's than our own ; we have if 
from him, must use it for him, and are accountable 
for it to him. JVo 7nan said what he had ivas his 
own, ifiov — his peculiar ; for he was ready to distri- 
bute, willing to communicate, and desired not to eat 
his morsel alone, but what he had to spare from 
himself and famih', his j)oor neighbours were wel- 
come to. The\' that had estates, were not solici- 
tous to lay \i\), bvit very willing to lay out, and would 
straiten themselves to help their brethren. No mar- 
vel that they weir of one heart and soul, when they 



THE ACTS, V. 



45 



sat so loose to the wealth of this world ; for meum — 
mine and tuum — thiiie are the great make-baits. 
Men's holding their own, and grasping at more than 
their ovjn, are the rise of wars and Jightings. 

2. They abounded in charity, so that, in effect, 
they had all things common ; for, {v. oA.) there was 
not anxj among them that lacked, but care was ta- 
ken for their supply. Those that had been main- 
tained upon the public charity, when they turned 
christians, probably were excluded, and therefore 
it was fit that the church should take care of them. 
As there were many fioor that received the gosfiel, 
so there were some rich that were able to maintain 
them, and the grace of God made them willing. 
Therefore those that gather much, have nothing 
over, oecause what they have over, they have for 
them who gather little, that they may have no lack, 
2 Cor. 8. 14, 15. The gospel hath laid all things 
common, not so that the poor arc allowed to rob the 
rich, but so that the rich are appointed to relieve 
the poor, 

3. They did many of them sell their estates, to 
raise a fund for charity ; As many as had possession 
of lands or houses, sold them, v. 34. Dr. Lightfoot 
computes that this was the year of jubilee in the 
Jewish nation, the fiftieth year, (the twenty-eighth 
since they settled in Canaan fourteen hundred years 
ago,) so that what was sold that year being not to 
return till the next jubilee, lands then took a good 
price, and so the sale of those lands would raise the 
moT'e money. 

Now, ( 1. ) We are here told what they did with 
the money that was so raised ; they laid it at the 
a/iostles' feet, they left it to them to be disposed of 
as they thought fit ; probably, they had their sup- 
port from it ; from whence else could they have it ? 
Observe, The afiostles would have it laid at their 
f'ct, in token of their holy contempt of the wealth 
of the world ; they thought it fitter they should be 
laid at their feet than lodged in their hands or in 
their bosoms. Being laid there, it was not hoarded 
up, but distribution was made, bv proper persons, 
unto every man according as he had need. Great 
care ought to be taken in the distribution of public 
charity, [1.] That it be given to such as have need, 
such as are not able to procure a competent main- 
tenance for themselves, through age, infancy, sick- 
ness, or bodily disability, or incapacity of mind, want 
either of ingenuity or activity, cross providences, 
losses, oppressions, a numerous charge ; those that 
upon any of these accounts, or any other, have real 
need, and have not relations of their own to help 
tliem ; but, above all, those that are reduced to 
want for well doing, and for the testirnony of a good 
conscience, ought to be taken care of, and provided 
for, and, with a prudent application of what is given, 
so as may be most for their benefit. [2.] That it 
be given to every man, for whom it is intended, ac- 
cording as he had need, without partiality or respect 
of persons. It is a rule, in dispensing charity, as 
well as in administering justice, ut /larium par sit 
ratio — that those who are eqiiallu needing and 
equally deserving, should be equally helped, and 
that the charity should be suited and adapted to the 
necessity, as the word is. 

(2.) Here is one particular person mentioned, that 
was remarkable for this generous charity ; it was 
Barnabas, afterward Paul's colleague. Observe, 

[1.1 The account here given concerning him, r. 
3fi. His name was Joses ; he was of the tribe of 
Lri'i, for there were Levites among the Jews of the 
di^/iersion, who, it is probable, presided in their sy- 
nagogue-worship, and, according to the duty of Ma^ 
tribe, taught them the good knowledge of the Lord. 
He was bom in Cyprus, a great way off from Jeru- 
salem, his parents, though Jews, having a settle- 
ment there. Notice is taken of the anostles' chan?- 



ing his name after he associated with them. It is 
probable that he was one of the seventy disciples, 
and, as he increased in gifts and graces, grew emi- 
nent, and was respected by the apostles, who, in to- 
ken of their value for him, gave him a name, Bar- 
nabas — the son of prophecy, (so it properly signifies,) 
he being endued with extraordinary gifts of prophe 
cy. But the Hellenist Jews (saith Grotius) called 
praying, TAga*x»(r/f, and therefore by that word it 
is rendered here ; A son of exhortation ; (so some ;) 
one that had an excellent faculty of healing and pur- 
suading ; we have an instance of it, ch. 11. 22, 24. 
A son of consolation ; (so we read it ;) one that did 
himself walk very much in the comforts of the Holy 
Ghost, a cheerful chi-istian, and this enlarged his 
heart in charity to the poor ; or one that was emi- 
nent for comforting the J^ord's people, and speaking 
peace to wounded troubled consciences ; he had an 
admirable felicity that way. There were two among 
the apostles that were called Boanerges — Sons of 
thunder ; (Mark 3. 17.) but here was a son of con- 
solation with them. Each had his several gift, nei- 
ther must censure the other, but both ease one ano- 
ther ; let the one search the wound, and then let the 
other heal it and bind it up. 

[2. ] Here is an account of his charity, and great 
generosity to the public fund. His is particularly 
taken notice of, because of the eminency of his ser- 
vices afterward in the church of God, especially in 
carrying the gospel to the Gentiles ; that this might 
not appear to come from any ill will to his own na- 
tion, we have here his benevolence to the Jewish 
converts ; or perhaps this is mentioned, because it 
was a leading card, and an example to others ; he 
having land, whether in Cyprus, where he was 
bom, or in Judea, where he now lived, or elsewhere, 
is not certain, but he sold it, not to buy elsewhere to 
advantage, but, as a Levite indeed, who knew he 
had the Lord God of Israel for his inheritance, he 
despised earthly inheritances, would be cumbered 
no more with them, but brought the money, and 
laid it at the apostles^ f^^t, to be given in charity. 
Thus, as one that was designed to be a preacher of 
the gospel, he disentangled himself from the affairs 
of tliis life ; and he lost nothing upon the balance of 
the account, by laying the purchase-w?o/2fz/ at the 
apostles feet, when he himself was, in effect, num- 
bered among the apostles, by that word oi the Holy 
Ghost, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the 
work whereunto I have called them, ch. 13. 2. Thus, 
for the respect he shewed to the apostles as afiostles, 
he had an apostle's reward. 

CHAR V. 

In this chapter, we have, I. The sin and punishment of Ana- 
nias and Sapphira, wlio, for lvin2:to the Holy Giiost, were 
struck dead at the word of Peter, v. 1 . . 11. II. The 
flourishina; state of the church, in the power that went 
along- with the preaching; of the jrospel, v. 12 . . 16. III. 
The imprisonment of the apostles, and their iniraculons 
discharffe out of prison, with fresh orders to po on to preach 
the gospel, which they did, to the great vexation of tlieir 
persecutors, v. 17.. 26. IV. Their arrai2;nment before 
the great Sanhedrim, and their justification of themselves 
in what they did, v. 27 . . 33. V. Gamaliel's counsel con- 
cerning them, that they should not persecute them, but let 
them alone, and see what would come of 't, and their con- 
currence, for the present, with this advice, in the dismission 
of the apostles with no more than a scour2;ing, v. 34 . . 40, 
VI. The apostles' cheerful progress in their work, notwith- 
standing tlie prohibition laid upon them, and the indignity 
done them, v. 41, 42. 

1. 11 UT a certain man named Ananias, 
J3 vvilh Sapphira his wife, sold a 
possession, 2. And kept back part of the 
price, his wife also being privy to it, and 
brought a certain part, and laid it at the 



40 



THE ACTS, V. 



apostles' feet. 3. But Peter said, Ananias^ 
why halh Satan filled thine heart to lie to 
the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of 
the price of the land ? 4. While it remain- 
ed, was it not thine own ? And after it 
was sold, was it not in thine own power 1 
Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine 
heart 1 Thou hast not lied unto men, but 
un!3 God. 5. And Ananias, hearing these 
words, fell down, and gave up the ghost : 
and great fear came on all them that heard 
these things. 6. And the young men arose, 
wound him up, and carried him out, and 
buried him. 7. And it was about the space 
of three hours after, when his wife, not 
knowing what was done, came in. 8. And | 
Peter answered unto her. Tell me whether 
ye sold the land for so much 1 And she 
said. Yea, for so much. 9. Then Peter 
said unto her. How is it that ye have 
agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the 
Lord ? Behold, the feet of them which have 
buried thy husband, me at the door, and 
shall carry thee out. 10. Then fell she 
down straightway at his feet, and yielded 
up the ghost : and the young men came in, 
and found her dead, and carrying her forth, 
buried her by her husband. 1 1. And great 
fear came upon all the church, and upon 
as many as heard these things. 

The chapter begins with a melancholy but, which 
puts a stop to the pleasant and agreeable prospect 
of things which we had in the foregoing chapters ; 
as every man, so every church, in its best state, has 
its but, 1. The disciples were very holy, and hea- 
venly, and seemed to be all exceeding good ; but 
thei'e were hypocrites among them, whose hearts 
were not right in the sight of God, who, when thev 
were baptized, and took upon them the form of god- 
liness, denied the jioiver of godliness, and stopped 
short of that There is a mixture of bad with good 
in the best societies on this side heaven ; tares will 
grow among the wheat until the harvest. 2. It was 
the praise of the disciples, that they came up to that 
perfection which Christ recommended to the rich 
young man — they sold ivhat they had, and gave to 
the floor ; but even that proved a cloak and cover of 
hypocrisy, which was thought the greatest proof 
and evidence of sincerity. .". The signs and won- 
ders which the apostles wrought, were hitherto mi- 
racles of mercy ; but now comes in a miracle of 
judgment, and here is an instance of severity, fol- 
lowing the instances of goodness, that God may be 
both loved and feared. Observe here, 

I. The sin oi Ananias, and Sapfihira his ivife. It 
is good to see husband and wife joining together in 
that which is good, but to be conffderate in evil, is 
to be like Adam and Eve, when they agreed to eat 
the forbidden fruit, and were one in their disobe- 
dience. 

Now their sin was, 

1. That they were ambitious of being thought emi- 
nent discijjles, and of the first rank, when really 
they were not true disciples ; they^ would pass for 
some of the most fruitful trees in Christ's vmeyard, 
when really the root of the matter was not found in 
them. They sold a fiossession, and brought the 
money (as Barnabas did") to the apostles' feet, that 



they might not seem to be behind the very chief oj 
believers, but might be applauded and cried up, and 
stand so much the fairer for preferment in the 
church, which perhaps they thought would shortly 
shine in secular pomp and grandeur. Note, k is 
possible that hypocrites may deny themselves in 
one thing, b\it then it is to serve themselves in ano- 
ther; may forego their secular advantage in one in- 
stance, with a prospect of finding their account in 
something else. Ananias and Sapphira would take 
upon them a profession of Christianity, and make a 
fair shew in the Jiesh with it, and so would mock 
God, and deceive others, when they knew they 
could not go through with the christian profession. 
It was commendable, and so far it was right, in that 
ricli young man, that he would not pretend to follow 
Christ, when, if it should come to a pinch, he knew 
he could not come up to his terms, but he went away 
sorrowful. Ananias and Sapphira pretended they 
could come up to the terms, that they might have 
the credit of being disciples, when really they could 
not, and so were a discredit to discipleship. Note, 
It is often of fatal consequence for people to go a 
greater length in profession than their inward prin- 
ciple will admit of. 

2. That they were covetous of the wealth of the 
world, and distrustful of God, and his providence ; 
They sold the land, and, perhaps, then, in a pang 
of zeal, designed no other than to dedicate the whole 
of the purchase-money to pious uses, and made a 
vow, or at least conceived a full purpose, to do so ; 
but when the money was received, their heart failed 
them, and they kept hack part of the price, (v. 2.) 
because they loved the money, and thought it was 
too much to part with at once, and to trust in the 
apostles' hands, and because they knew not but they 
might want it themselves ; and though now all 
things were common, yet it would not be so long j 
and what should they do in a time of need, if they 
should leave themselves nothing to take to ? They 
could not take God's word that they should be pro- 
vided for, but tliought they would play a wiser part 
than the rest had done, and lay up for a rainy day. 
Thus they thought to serz'e both God and mammon 
— God, by bringing part of the money to the apos- 
tles' feet — and mammon, by keeping the other part 
in their own pockets ; as if there were not an all- 
sufficiency in God to make up the v.'hole to them, 
except they retained some in their own hands by 
way of caution-monev. Their hearts were divided, 
so were they found faulty, Hos. 10. 2. They halted 
betweeji two ; if they had been thorough-paced 
worldlings, they would not have sold their posses- 
sion ; and if they had been thorough-paced chris- 
tians, they would not have detained pa7-t of the 
price. 

3. That they thought to deceive the apostles, and 
make them believe they brought the whole purchase 
money, when really it was but apart. They came 
with as good an assurance, and as great a shew of 
piety and devotion, as any of them, and laid the money 
at the apostles' feet, as if it were their all. They 
dissembled with God and his Spirit, with Christ 
and his church and ministers ; and this was their 
sin. 

II. The indictment of Ananias, which proved both 
his condemnation and execution for this sin. \^'hen 
he brought the money, and expected to be com- 
mended and encouraged, as others were, Peter took 
him to task about it. He, without any inquiry or 
examination of witnesses concerning it, charges him 
peremptorily with the crime, and aggravates it, and 
lays load upon him for it, shewing it him in its own 
colour, v. 3, 4. The Spirit of God in Peter, not 
only discovered the fact without any information, 
(when perhaps no man in the world knew it but the 
man and his wife themselves,) but likewise discern- 



THE ACTS, V. 



47 



eil the principle of reigning infidelity in the heart of 
Ananias, which was at the bottom of it, and there- 
fore proceeded against him so suddenly. Had it 
been a sin of infirmity, through the surprise of a 
temptation, Peter would have taken Ananias aside, 
and have bid him go home, and fetch the rest of the 
money, and repent of his folly in attempting to put 
this cheat upon them ; but he knew that his heart 
•was fully set in him to do this evil, and therefore 
allowed him not sjiace to repent. He here shewed 
him, 

1. The original of the sin. Satan filled his heart ; 
he not only suggested it to him, and put it into his 
head, but hurried him on with resolution to do it. 
Whatever is contraiy to the good Spirit, proceeds 
from the evil spirit ; Tiwd those hearts are filled by 
Satati, in which worldliness reigns, and has the as- 
cendant. Some think that Ananias was one of those 
that had received the Holy Ghost, and was filled 
with his gifts, but, having provoked the Spirit to 
withdraw from him, now Satan filled his heart ; as 
Kvheti the Spirit of the Lord defiarted from Saul, an 
evil spirit from God troubled him. Satan is a lying 
spirit ; he was so in the mouth of Ahab''s prophets, 
and so lie was in the moiUh of Ananias, and by that 
made it appear that he filled his heart. 

2. The sin itself. He lied' to the Holy Ghost; a 
sin of such a heinous nature, that he could not have 
been guilty of it if Satan had not filled his heart. 
The phrase which we render lying to the Holy Ghost, 
is •\,'iu<jdi<T^a.i (Ti TO TviZfjidi ro ayiov, which some read, 
to belie the Holy Ghost ; which may be taken two 
ways: (1.) That he belied the Holy Ghost in him- 
self; so Dr. Lightfoot takes it, and supposes that 
Ananias was not an ordinary believer, but a minis- 
ter, and one that had received the gift of the Holy 
Ghost ivith the hundred and ttventy ; (for mention 
is made of him immediately after Barnabas ;) yet he 
durst thus, by dissembling, belie and shame that 
gift. Or thus. They who had sold their estates, and 
laid the money at the apostles^ feet, did it by the spe- 
cial impulse of the Holy Ghost, enabling them to do 
an ant so very great and generous ; and Ananias pre- 
tended that he was moved by the Holy Ghost to do 
what he did, as others were ; whereas it appeared 
by his baseness, that he was not vinder the influence 
of the good Spirit at all ; for had it been his ivork, it 
would have been perfect. (2.) That he belied the 
Holy Ghost in the apostles, to whom he brought the 
money ; he misrepresented the Spirit they were ac- 
tuated by, either by a suspicion that they would not 
faithfully distribute what they were intrusted with, 
(which was a base suggestion, as if they were false to 
the trust reposed in them,) or by an assurance that 
they could not discover the fraud. He belied the 
Holy Ghost, when by what he did he would have 
it thought that those who are endued ivith the gifts 
of the Holy Ghost, might as easily be imposed upon 
as other men ; like Gehazi, whom his master con- 
victed of his error by that word, Went not my heart 
ivith thee? 2 Kings 5. 26. It is charged upon Me 
house of Israel and Judah, when, like Ananias here, 
they dealt very treacherously, that they belied the 
Lord, saying. It is not he, Jer. 5. 11, 12. Thus 
Ananias thought the apostles ivere altogether such as 
himself, and this was belying the Holy Ghost in 
them, as if he were not in them a Discemer of spi- 
rits, whereas they had all the gifts of the S/iirit in 
them, which to others were divided severally. See 
1 Cor. 12. 8, 10. They that pretend to an inspira- 
tion of the Spirit, in imposing upon the church their 
own fancies, either in opinion or practice, that say, 
they are moved from above, when they are carried 
on by their pride, covetousness, or affectation of 
dominion, belie the Holy Ghost. 

But we read it, to lie unto the Holy Ghost ; which 
reading is countenanced by v. 4. 7%ou hast not lied 



unto men, but unto God. [1.] Ananias told a lie a 
deliberate lie, and with a purpose to deceive ; he 
told Peter that he had sold a possession, (house or 
lands,) and this was the purchase-money. Perhaps 
he expressed himself in words that were capable of 
a double meaning, used some equivocations about it, 
which he thought might palliate the matter a little, 
and save him from the guilt of a downright he ; or 
perhaps he said nothing ; but it was all one, he did 
as the rest did, who brought the ivhole price, and 
would be thought to dp so, and expected the praise 
they had, that did so, and the same privilege 'tind 
access to the common stock as they had ; and there- 
fore it was an implicit protestation that he brought 
the ivhole price, as they did ; and this was a lie, for 
he kept back part. Note, Many are brought to gross 
lying, by reigning pride, and affectation of the ap- 
plause of men ; particularly in works of charity to 
thepoor. That therefore we may not be found 
boasting of a false gift given to us, or given by us, 
(Ptov. 25. 14.) we must not boast even of a true gift ; 
which is the meaning of our Saviours caution in 
works of charity. Let not thy left hand know what 
thy right hand doeth. Those that boast of good 
works they never did, or promise good works they 
never do, or make the good works they do, more or 
better than really they are, come under the guilt of 
Ananias's lie ; which it concerns us all to dread the 
thought of. [2.] He told this lie to the Holy Ghost. 
It was not so much to the apostles, as to the Holy 
Ghost in them, that the money was brought, and 
that was said, which was said, v. 4. Ihoic hast not 
lied unto meii, not to men only, not to men chiefly, 
though the Qpostles be but men ; but thou hast lied 
unto God. From hence it is justly inferred, that the 
Holy Ghost is God ; for he that lieth to the Holy 
Ghost, lieth to God. "They that lied to the apos- 
tles, acted and acting by the Spirit of God, are said 
to lie to God, because the apostles acted by the 
power and authority of God. From whence it fol- 
lows, (as Dr. Whitby well observes,) that the power 
and authority of the Spirit must be the power and 
authority of God." And, as he further argues, 
"Ananias is said to lie to God, because he lied to 
that Spirit in the apostles, which enabled them to 
discern the secrets of men^s hearts and actions, which 
being the property of God alone, he that lies to him, 
must therefore lie to God, because he lies to one who 
has the incommunicable property of God, and con- 
sequently the divine essence." 

3. The aggravations of the sin ; (t. 4. ) While it 
remained, was it not thine own ? And after it was 
sold, was it not in thine own power ? Which may 
be understood two ways .•(!.) "Thou wast under no 
temptation to keep back the price; before it was 
sold, it was thy own, and not mortgaged, ncr en- 
cumbered, or any way engaged for debt ; and when 
it was sold, it was in thy own power to dispose oi the 
money at thy pleasure; so that thou mightest as 
well have brought the whole as a part. Thou hadst 
no debts to pay, perhaps no children to provide for ; 
so that thou wast not under the influence of any par- 
ticular inducement to keep back part of the price. 
Thou wast a transgi'essor without a cause." Or, 
(2.) "Thou wast under no necessity of selling thy 
land at all, or bringing any of the money to the apos- 
tles' feet. Thou mightest have kept the money, if 
thou hadst pleased, and the land too, and never have 
pretended to this piece of perfection." This rule 
of charity the apostle gives, that people be not 
pressed, and that it be not urged as of necessity, be- 
cause God loves a cheerful giver, (2 Cor. 9. 7.) and 
Philemon must do a good work, not as it were of ne- 
cessity, but willingly, Phil. 14 As it is better not to 
vow than to vow and not to pay ; so better had it 
been for him not to have sold his land at all than 
thus to keep back part ofthepnce not to have pre- 



43 



TPIE ACTS, V. 



tended to do the good work than thus to do it by 
halves. " When it vjas sold, it ivas in thine own 
power ; but it was not so when it was vowed, thou 
hadst then opened thy mouth to the Lord, and 
couldest not go back." Thus, in giving our hearts 
to God, we are not permitted to divide them. Satan, 
like the mother, whose own the child was not, would 
take up with a half ; but God will have all or none. 

4. All this guilt, thus aggravated, is charged upon 
him ; Why hast thou conceived this thinff in thine 
heart ? Observe, Though Satan Ji lied his heart to do 
it, yet he is said to have conceived it in his own heart ; 
which shews that we cannot extenuate our sins, by 
laying the fault of them upon the Devil ; he tempts, 
but he cannot force ; it is of our own lusts that we 
are drawn away and enticed. The evil thing, what- 
ever it is, that is said or done, the sinner has con- 
ceived it in his own heart ; and therefore, if thou 
scornest, thou alone shalt bear it. The close of the 
charge is very high, but very just ; Thou hast not 
lied unto men, but uiito God. What emphasis docs 
the prophet lay upon that of Ahaz ; 7iot vjearying 
men only, but wearying my God also I Isa. 7. 13. 
And Moses upon that of Israel ; Your 7nurmurings 
are not against us, but against the Loi'd .' Exod. 16. 
8. So here, Thou miglitest have imposed upon us, 
who are men like thyself; but, be not deceived, God 
is not mock-ed. If we think to put a cheat upon God, 
we shall prove in the end to have put a fatal cheat 
upon our own souls. 

III. The death and burial of Ananias, v. 5, 6. 

1. He died upon the spot ; Ananias, hearing these 
words, was speechless, in the same sense that he 
was, who was charged with inti-uding i.nto the wed- 
ding feast without a wedding gar7ne7it, he had no- 
thing to say for himself, but that was not all, he was 
struck speechless with a witness, for he was struck 
dead ; he fell down, and gave ufi the ghost. It does 
not appear whether Peter designed and expected 
that this would follow upon what he said to him ; it 
it probable that he did, for to Sapphira his wife, Pe- 
ter particularly spake death, v. 9. Some think that 
an angel struck him, that he died, as Herod, ch. 12. 
23. Or, his own conscience smote him with such 
liorror and amazement at the sense of his guilt, that 
he sunk and died away under the load of it. And 
perhaps, when he was convinced of lying to the 
Holy Ghost, he remembered the unpardoiiableness 
of the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, which 
struck him like a dagger to the heart. See the 
power of the word of God in the mouth of the apos- 
tles ! As it was to some a savour of life unto life, 
so it was to others a savour of death' unto death. 
As there are those whom the gospel justifies, so 
there are those whom it condernns. 

Tliis punishment of Ananias may seem severe, 
but we are sure it was just. (1.) It was designed to 
maintain the honour oithe Holy Ghost as now lately 
poured out upon the apostles, in order to the setting- 
up of the gospel-kingdom. It was a great aiTron't 
wliich Ananias i)ut upon the Holy Ghost, as if he 
could be imposed upon : and it had a direct tenden- 
cy to invalidate the ajjostles' testimony ; for if the\' 
could not by the Spirit discover this fi^ud, how could 
tliey by the Spirit discover the deep things of God. 
which they were to reveal to the children of men ? 
It was therefore necessary that the credit of the 
apostles' gifts and powers be supported, though it 
was at this expense. (2.) It was designed to deter 
otliers from tlie like presumptions, now at the l)e- 
giiinmg of this dispensation. Simon Magus after- 
'.vard was not thus punished, norElymas ; but Ana- 
nias was mafle an examjjlc now at' first, that witli 
the sensible j)roofs given what a comfortable thing 
It is to receive the Spirit, there might be also sensible 
proofs given what a dangerous thing it i-s to resist the 
Spirit, and do despite to him. How severeh- was 



the worshijijiing of tiie golden m//'punislied, and tfu. 
gathering of the sticks on the sabbath-day, when the 
laws of the second and fourth commandment were 
now newly given ! So was the offering of strangr 
Jire by jYadab and Abihu, and the mutiny ofKorah 
and his company, when the Jire from heaven was 
now newly given, and the authority of Moses and 
Aaron now newly established. 

The doing of this by the ministiy of Peter, who 
himself with a lie denied his Master but a while 
ago, intimates that it was not the resentment of a 
wrong done to himself, for then he, who had him- 
self been faulty, would have had charity for them 
that offended ; and he, wlio himself had repented 
and been forgiven, would have forgiven this affront, 
and endeavoured to bring this offender to repent- 
'ance; but it was the act ^A the Spirit of God in Pe- 
ter, to him the indignity was done, and by him the 
punishment was inflicted. 

2. He was buried immediately, for that was the 
manner of the Jews ; (7). 6.) The young men, who, 
it is probable, were appointed to "that office in the 
church of burying the dead, as among the Romans 
the libitinarii and pollinctorcs ; or the young men 
that attended the apostles, and waited on them, they 
wound up the dead body in grave-clothes, carried 
it out of the city, and.^wriec/ it decently, though he 
died in sin, and by an immediate stroke of divine 
vengeance. 

IV. The reckoning vjith Sapphira, the wife of 
Ananias, who perhaps "zraij/^rs; in the transgression, 
and tempted her husband to eat this forbidden fruit. 
She came in to the place where the apostles were, 
which, as it should seem, was Solo?no?i's porch, for 
there we find them, (v. 12.) a part of the temple 
where Christ used to walk, John 10. 23. She came 
in about three hours after, expecting to share in the 
thanks of the house, tor her coming in, and consent- 
ing to the sale of the land, of which perhaps she 
was entitled to her dower or thirds ; for she knew 
7iot what was done. It was strange that nobodj- ran 
to tell her of the sudden death of her husband, that 
she might keep away ; perhaps they did, and she 
was not at home ; and so when she came to present 
herself before the ajjostles as a benefactor to the 
fund, she met with a breach instead of a blessing. 

1. She vv'as found guilty of sharing with her hus- 
band in his sin, by a question that Peter asked her ; 
{v. 8.) Tell 7ne whether ye sold the land for so 
77iuch ? Naming the sum which Ananias \\ViAbrought 
and laid at the -ipostles'feet. "Was that all you re- 
ceived for the sale of the land, and had you no more 
for it ?" "No," saith she, "we had no more, but 
that was every farthing we received." Ananias and 
his wife agreed to tell the same story, and, the bar- 
gain being ])rivate, and by consent kept to them- 
selves, nobody could disi)rove them, and therefore 
they thought they might safely stand in the lie, and 
should gain credit to it. It is sad to see those rela- 
tions who should quicken one another to that which 
is good, harden one another in that whicli is evil. 

2. Sentence is past u])on her, that she should par- 
take in her husband's doom, v. 9. 

(1.) Her sin is opened; How is it that ye have 
agreed together to tempt the S/iirit of the Lord? 
Before he passes sentence, he makes tier to know 
her abominations, and shews her the evil of her sin. 

[1.] That they te7npfed the Spirit of the Lord ; 
as Israel tempted God in the desert, when they said. 
Is the Lord a7nong vs? Oris he not P After they 
had seen so many miraculnus proofs of his power, 
and not onlv his ijresenrc, but his presidenc}', when 
they said. Can God fur7iish a table? So here, "Can 
the Spirit in the a])ostk's discover this fraud ? Can 
they discern that this is but a part of the /nice, when 
we tell them it is the whole? Can he judge throxigh 
this dark cloud?" Job 22, 13. They saw they had 



THE ac;ts, V 



49 



the gift of tongues ; but had they the gift oi discern- ] 
in^ s/iirits ? Those that presume upon security and i 
impunity in sin, tempt the Spirit of God ; they tempt 
God as if he were altogether such a one as them- 
selves. 

[2.] That they agreed together to do it ; making 
the bond of their relation to each other (which by 
the divine institution is a sacred tie) to become a 
bond of iniquity. It is hard to say which is worse 
between yoke-fellows and other relations — a discord 
. in good, or concord in evil. It seems to intimate 
that their agreeing together to do it, was a further 
temtiling of the S/iirit ; as if when they had engaged 
to keep one another's counsel in this matter, even 
the Spirit of the Lord himself could not discover 
them. Thus they digged deefi to hide their couJisel 
from the Lord, but were made to know it is in vain. 
'* Honv is it that you are thus infatuated ! What 
strange stupidity has seized you, that you would ven- 
ture to make trial of that' which is past dispute ? 
How is it that you, who are baptized christians, do 
not understand yourselves better ? How durst you 
run so great a risk ?" 

(2.) Her doom is read ; Behold, the feet of them 
ivhich have buried thy husband, are at the door ; 
(perhaps he heard them coming, or knew that they 
could not be long ;) and they shall carry thee out. 
As Adam and Eve, who agreed to eat the forbidden 
fruit, were tunied together out of paradise ; so 
Ananias and Sapphira, who agreed to temfit the 
S/iirit of the Lord, were together chased out of the 
world. 

The sentence executed itself; there needed no 
executioner, a killing power went along with Pe- 
ter's word, as sometimes a healing power did ; for 
the God in whose name he spake, kills and rnakes 
alive ; and out of his mouth (and Peter was now his 
mouth) both evil and good proceed ; {v. 10.) Then 
fell she down straightway at his feet. Some sinners 
God makes quick work with, while others he bears 
long with ; for which difference, doubtless, there 
are good reasons ; but he is not accountable to us 
for them. She heard not till now that her husband 
was dead, the notice of Avhich, with the discovery 
of her sin, and the sentence of death passed upon 
her, struck her as a thunderbolt, and took her away 
as with a luhirlivind. And many instances there 
are of sudden deaths, which are not to be looked 
upon as the punishment of some gross sin, like this ; 
we must not think that all who die suddenly, are 
sinners above others ; perhaps it is in favour to 
them, that they have a quick passage, however, it 
is forewarning to all to be always ready. But here 
it is plain that it was in judgrricnt. Some put the 
question concerning the eternal state of Ananias and 
Sapphira, and incline to think that the destruction 
of the jlesh was, that the spirit might he saved in 
the day of the Lord Jesus. And I should go in with 
that charitable opinion, if there had been any space 
given them to repent, as there was to that incestu- 
ous Corinthian. But secret things belong not to us. 
It is said. She fell down at Peter's feet ; there where 
she should have laid the whole price, and did not, 
she was herself laid, as it were to make up the de- 
ficiency. The young men that had the care of fu- 
nerals, coming in, found her dead; and it is not 
said, They wound her up, as they did Ananias, but. 
They carried her out as she was, and buried her by 
her husband ; probably an inscription was set over 
their graves, intimating that they were joint-monu- 
ments of divine wrath against those that lie to the 
Holy Ghost. Some ask whether the apostles kept 
the money which they did bring, and concerning 
which they lied ? I am apt to think they did ; they 
had not the superstition of those who said, It is not 
lawful for us to put it into the treasury : for unto 
the pure all things are pure. What they brought. 

Vol. VI.— G 



was not polluted to them that they Ijnuglit it to ; 
but what they kept back, was polluted to them that 
kept it back. Use was made of the censers of Ko- 
ran's mutineers. 

V. The impression that this made upon the peo 
pie ; notice is taken of this in the midst of the story 
{v. 5.) Great fear came upon all that heard thesi 
things ; that heard what Peter said, and saw what 
followed ; or upon all that heard the story of it ; for, 
no doubt, it was all the talk of the city. And again, 
(y. 11.) Great fear came upon all the church, and 
upon as many as heard these things. 

1. They that had joined themselves to the church, 
were hereby struck with an awe of God, and of his 
judgments, and with a greater veneration of this 
dispensation of the Spirit which they were now un- 
der. It was not a damp or check to their holy joy, 
but it taught them to be serious in it, and to rejoice 
with trembling. All that laid their money at the 
apostles' feet after this, were afraid of keeping back 
■AX\\ part of the price. 

2. All that heard it, were put into a consternation 
by it, and were ready to say, ]Vho is able to stand 
before this holy Lord God, and his Spirit in the 
apostles ? As 1 Sam. 6. 20. 

12. And by the hands of the apostles 
were many signs and wonders wrought 
among the people ; (and they were all with 
one accord in Solomon's porch. 1 3. And 
of the rest durst no man join himself to 
them : but the people magnified them. 14. 
And believers were the more added to the 
Lord, multitudes both of men and women.) 
15. Insomuch that they brought forth the 
sick into the streets, and laid lliem on beds 
and couches, that at the least the shadow 
of Peter passing by might overshadow some 
of them. 16. There came also a multitude 
out of the cities round abc»ut unto Jerusa- 
lem, bringing sick folks, and them w hich 
were vexed with unclean spirits : and they 
were healed every one. 

We have here an account of the progress of the 
gospel, notwithstanding this terrible judgment in- 
flicted upon two hypocrites. 

I. Here is a general account of the miracles which 
the a])ostles wrought ; {y. 12.) By the hands of the 
apostles were many sigtis and wonders wrought 
among the people ; "many miracles of mercy for one 
of judgment. Now the gospel-poAver i-etumed to 
its proper channel, which is that of mercy and 
grace. (Jod had come out of his ])lace to punisli, 
ijut now returns to his place, to his mercy-seat 
again. The miracles they wrought proved their 
divine mission ; they were not a few, but many, of 
divers kinds and often repeated ; they were signs 
and wonders, such wonders as were confessedly 
signs of a divine presence and power ; they were 
not done in a corner, but among the people, who 
were at liberty to inquire into them, and, if there 
had been any fraud or collusion in them, would have 
discovered it. 

II. We are here told what were the effects of 
these miracles which the apostles wrought. 

1. The church was hereby kept together, and 
confirmed in its adherence both to the apostles, and 
to one another ; They of- the church were all with 
one accord in Solomon's porch. 

(1.) They met in the temple, in the open ])lace 
that was called Solomon's porch. It Avas strange 
that the rulers of the temple suffered them to kcej; 



50 



THE ACTS, V. 



iheir meeting; there. But God inclined their hearts 
10 tolerate them there a while, for the more conve- 
nient spreading of the gospel ; and they who per- 
mitted buyers and sellers, could not for shame pro- 
hibit such preachers and healers there. They all 
met in public-worship ; so early is the institution of 
religious assemblies observed in the church, which 
must by no means be forsaken or let fall, for in them 
a profession of religion is kept up. 

(2. ) They were there ivith one accord, unanimous 
in their doctrine, worship, and discipline ; and there 
was no discontent or murmuring about the death of 
Ananias and Sapphii'a, as there was against Moses 
and Aaron, aliout the death of Korah and his com- 
pany ; Ye have killed the peofde of the Lord, Numb. 
16. 41. The separation of hypocrites by distinguish- 
ing judgments, should make the sincere cleave so 
much the closer to each other and to the gospel- 
ministr)-. 

9.. It gained the apostles very great respect, who 
wr-re the prime ministers of state in Christ's king- 
dom. 

(1.) The other ministers kept their distance ; Of 
the rest of their company durst no man join himself 
to them, as their equal or an associate with them ; 
though others of them were endued with the Holy 
Ghost, and sjiake ninth tongues, yet none of them at 
this time did such signs and ivonders as the apostles 
did : and therefore they acknowledged their supe- 
riority, and in every thing yielded to them. 

(2. ) AU the people magnified them, and had them 
in great veneration ; spake of them with respect, 
and represented them as the favourites of Heaven, 
and unspeakable blessings to this earth. Though 
the chief priests vilified them, and did all they could 
to make them contemptil^le, that did not hinder the 
people from magnifying them, who saw the thing 
in a true light. Observe, The apostles were far 
from magnifying themselves, they transmitted the 
glory of all they did very carefully and faithfully to 
Christ, and yet the people magnified them ; for they 
that humble themselves shall be exalted, and those 
honoiu'ed, that honour God only. 

3. The church increased in number ; (t». 14.) Be- 
lievers -ivere the more added to the Lord, and, no 
doubt, joined themselves to the church, when they 
saw that God was in it of a truth, even multitudes 
both of men and women. They were so far from 
being deterred by the example that was made of 
Ananias and Sapphira, that they were rather invited 
by it into a society that kept such a strict discipline. 
Observe, 

(1.) Beliet'ers are added to the Lord Jesus, joined 
to him, and so joined in his mystical body, from 
which nothing can separate us and cut us off, but 
that which separates us and cuts us off from Christ. 
Many have been brought to the Lord, and yet there 
is room for others to be added to him, added to the 
num!)er of those that are united to him ; and addi- 
tions will still be making till the mystery of God 
shdl be finished, and the number of the elect ac- 
complished. 

(2.) Notice is taken of the conversion oiivomen as 
well as men ; more notice than generally was in the 
Jewish church, in which they neither received the 
sign (-f circumcision, nor were obliged to attend the 
solemn feasts ; and the court of the women was one 
of the outer courts of the temple. But, as among 
those that followed Christ while he was upon earth, 
so among those that believed on him after he went 
to heaven, great notice was taken of the good wo- 
men. 

4. Tlie apostles had abundance of patients, and 
gained abundance of reputation both to them and 
their dcctrinr, by the cure of them all, v. 15, 16. 
So many signs and ivonders were wrought by the 
apostles, that all manner of people put in for the 



benefit of them, both in city and country, i.nd 
had it. 

(1.) In the city: They brought forth their sick 
into the streets, for it is probable that the priests 
would not suffer them to bring them into the tem 
pie to Solomon's porch, and the apostles had not 
leisure to come to the houses of them all. And they 
laid thein on beds and couches, because they were 
so weak, that they could neither go nor stand, that 
at the least the shadow of Fetvr, passing by, mie-ht 
overshadow some of them, though it could not reach 
them all ; and, it should seem, it had the desired 
effect, as the woman's touch of the hem of Christ's 
garment had ; and in this, among other things, that 
word of Christ was fulfilled. Greater works than 
these shall ye do. God expresses his care of his 
people, by his being their shade on their right hand; 
and the benign influences of Christ as a King, are 
compared to the shadow of a great rock. Peter 
comes between them and the sun, and so heals them, 
cuts them off from a dependence upon creature suf- 
ficiency as insufficient, that they may expect help 
only from that Spirit of grace with whom he was 
filled. And if such miracles were wrought by Pe- 
ter's shadow, we have reason to think they were so 
by the other apostles, as by the handkerchiefs from 
Paul's body; {ch. 19. 12.) no doubt, both being with 
an actual intention in the minds of the apostles thus 
to heal ; so that it is absurd hence to infer a healing 
virtue in the relics of saints that are dead and gone ; 
we read not of any cured by the relics of Christ him- 
self, after he was gone, as certainly we should, if 
there had been any such thing. 

(2.) In the country-towns ; multitudes came to 
Jerusalem from the cities round about, bringing sick 
folks that were afflicted in body, and them that were 
vexed with unclean spirits, that were troubled in 
mind, and they were healed every one; distempered 
bodies and distempered minds were set to rights. 
Thus opportunity was given to the apostles, both to 
convince people s judgments by these miracles, of 
the heavenly original of the doctrine they preached; 
and also to engage people's affections both to them 
and it, by giving them a specimen of its beneficial 
tendency to the welfare of this lower world. 

1 7. Then the High-Priest rose up, and 
all they that were with him, (which is the 
sect of the Satlducees,) and Were filled with 
indignation, 18. And laid their hands on 
the apostles, and put them in the common 
prison. 1 9. But the angel of the Lord by 
night opened the prison-doors, and brought 
them forth, and said, 20. Go, stand and 
speak in the temple to the people, all the 
words of this life. 21. And when they 
heard t/iat, they entered into the temple 
early in the morning, and taught. But the 
High-Priest came, and they that were with 
him, and called the council together, and 
all the senate of the children of Israel, and 
sent to the prison to have them brought. 
22. But when the officers came, and found 
them not in the prison, they returned, and 
told, 2.3. Saying, The prison truly found 
we shut with all safety, and the keepers 
standing without before the doors : but 
when we had opened, we found no man 
within. 21. Now when the nigh-Pri(>st, 
and the captain of the temple, and the 



THE ACTS, V 



Chief Priests, heard these things, they 
doubted of them whereunto this would 
grow. 25. Then came one and told them, 
saying, Behold, the men whom yc put in 
prison are standing in the temple, and 
teaching the people. 

Never did any good work go on with any hope of 
success, but it met with opposition ; they that are 
bent to do mischief, cannot be reconciled to them 
who make it their business to do good. Satan, the 
destroyer of mankind, ever was, and will be, an ad- 
versary to those who are the benefactors of man- 
kind ; and it would have been strange, if the apos- 
tles had gone on thus teaching and healing, and had 
had no check. In these verses we have the malice 
of hell and the grace of heaven struggling about 
them ; the one to drive them off from this good 
work, the other to animate them in it. 

I. l"he priests were enraged at them, and clapt 
them up in prison, v. 17, 18. Observe, 

1. Who their enemies and persecutors were. The 
High-Priest was the riugleader, Annan or Cauipha.^, 
who saw their wealth and dignity, their power and 
tyranny, that is, their all, at stake, and inevitably 
lost, if the spiritual and heavenly doctrine of Christ 
get ground and prevail among the people. Those 
that were most forward to join with the High-Priest 
herein, were the sect of the Sadducees, who had a 
particular enmity to the gospel of Christ, because it 
confirmed and established the doctrine of the invisi- 
ble world, the resurrection of the dead, and the fu- 
ture state, which they denied. It is not strange if 
men of no religion be bigoted in their opposition to 
true and pure religion. 

2. How they were affected toward them ; ill af- 
fected, and exasperated to the last degree ; when 
they heard and saw what flocking there was to the 
apostles, and how considerable they were become, 
they rose ufi in a passion, as men that could no 
longer bear it, and were resolved to make head 
against it, h€\n^Jilled with indignation at the apos- 
tles for preaching the doctrine of Christ, and curing 
the sick ; at the people for hearing them, and bring- 
ing the sick to them to be cured ; and at themselves 
and their own party, for suffering this matter to go 
so far, and not knocking it on tlie head at first. Thus 
are the enemies of Christ and his gospel a torment 
to themselves. Envy slays the silly one. 

3. How they proceeded against them ; (v. 18.) 
Then/ laid their hands on them, perhaps their own 
hands, (so low did their malice make them stoop,) 
or, rather, the hands of their officers, and fint them 
in the common prison, among the worst of malefac- 
tors. Hereby they designed, {l.)T o fiut a restraint 
upon them ; though they could not lay any thing 
criminal to their charge, worthy of death or of 
bonds, yet while they had them in prison, thev kept 
them from going on in their work, and that they 
reckoned a good point gained. Thus early were the 
ambassadors of Christ in bonds. (2.) To fiiit a ter- 
ror upon them, ?.nd so to drive them off from their 
work ; the last time they had them before them, 
they had onlv threatened them; (r/f. 4. 21.) but 
now, finding that did not do, they impi-isoned them, 
to make them afraid of them. (3.) To put a c/w- 
grace u/ion them, and therefore they chose to clap 
them up in the common prison, that, being thus 
vilified, the people might not, as they had done, 
magnify them. Satan has carried on his design 
against the gospel very much by making the 
prear.hei-s and professors of it despicable. 

II. God sent his angel to release them out of pri- 
son, and to renerj their commission to preach the 
gospel ; the powers of darkness fight against them, 
but the Father of lights fights for them and sends 



an angel of light to plead their cause. The Lord 
will never desert his witnesses, his advocates, but 
will certainly stand by them, and bear them out. 

1. The apostles are discharged, legally discharged, 
from their imprisonment ; {v. 19.) The angel of the 
Lord by night, in spite of all the locks and bars that 
were upon them, opened the prison-doors, and, in 
spite of all the vigilance and resolution of the keepei s 
that stood without before the doors, brought forth 
the prisoners, (see v. 23.) gave them authority to go 
out without crime, and led them through all opposi- 
tion. This deliverance is not so particularly related 
as that of Peter; {ch. 12. 7, Isfc.) but the miracle 
here was the very same. Note, There is no prise n 
so dark, so strong, but God can both visit his people 
in :t, and, if he pleases, fetch them out of it 1 he 
discharge of the apostles out of prison by an angel, 
was a resemblance of Christ's resurrection, and 
his discharge cut of the i)rison cf the grave, and 
would help to confirm the apostles' preaching of it. 

2. They are charged, and legally charged, to go 
on with their work, s® as thereby to be c//schargcd 
fix)m the prohibition which the High-Priest laid 
them under; the angel bid them, Go, stand, and 
speak in the temple to the people all the words of this 
life, V. 20. \Vhen they were miraculously set at 
liberty, they must not think it was that they might 
save their lives by making their escape out of the 
hands of their enemies. No ; it was that they 
might go on with their work with so much the more 
boldness. Recoveries from sickness, releases out 
of trouble, are granted us, and are to be looked upon, 
by us as granted, not that we may enjoy the comforts 
of our life, but that God may be honoured with the 
services of our life. Let my noul live, and it shall 
praise thee, Ps. 119. 175. Bring my soul out of 
prison, (as the apostle here,) that I may praise thy 
name, Ps. 142. 7. See Isa. 38. 22. 

Now in this charge given them, observe, (1.) 
Where they must preach ; Speak in the temple. 
One would think, though they might not quit their 
work, yet it had been prudence to go on with it in 
a more private place, where it would give less of- 
fence to the priests than in the temple, and so would 
the less expose them. No ; " Speak in the temple, 
for that is the place of concourse, that is your Fa- 
ther's house, and is not to be as yet quite left deso- 
late." It is not for the preachers of Christ's gospel 
to retire into corners, as long as they can have any 
opportunity of preaching in the great congregation. 
(2.) To whom they must preach; "Speak to the 
people ; not to the princes and rulers, for they will 
not hearken ; but to the people, who are willing and 
desirous to be taught, and whose souls are as precious 
to Christ, and ought to be so to you, as the souls of 
the greatest. Speak to the people, to all in general, 
for all are concerned." (3.) How they must preach ; 
Go, stand, and speak : which intimates, not only 
that they must speak publicly. Stand up, and speak, 
that all may hear ; but that they must speak boldh' 
and rcsolutelv. Stand, and speak ; that is, " Speak 
it as those that resolve to stand to it, to live and die 
by it." (4.) ^^'hat they must speak ; all the words 
of this life. This life which you have been speaking 
of among yourselves ; referring perhaps to the con- 
ferences concerning heaven, which they had among 
themselves for their own and one another's encour- 
agement in prison ; " Go, and preach the same to 
the world, that others may be comforted with thr 
same comforts with which vou vourselves are com 
fortcd of God. " Or, " of this life which the Saddu 
cees dcnv, and therefore persecute vou ; preach 
that, though vou know that is it which they ha\e 
indignation at." Or, "of this life emphatically; 
this heavenlv, divine life, in comparison with which 
the present earthly life does not deserve the name." 
Or, "these words of life, the very same you have 



52 



THE ACTS, V. 



prear.hed, these words which the Holy Ghost puts 
into your mouth." Note, The words of the gos- 
pel are the words of life ; quickenine words ; tliey 
are spirit, and they are life ; rjords nvhereby we 
may be saved ; that is the same with this here, ch. 
11. 14. The gospel is the word of this life ; for 
it secures to us the privileges of our way as well as 
those of our home, and the promises of the life that 
now is as well as of that to come. And yet even 
spiritual and etemal life are brought so much to 
light in the gospel, that thev may be called thin life ; 
for the word is nigh thee. "Note, Tlie gospel '.s con- 
cerning matters of life and death, and ministers nuist 
preach it, and people hear it accordingly. They 
must speak all the words of this life, and not conceal 
any for fear of offending, or in hope of ingratiating 
themselves with, their rulers. Christ's witnesses 
are sworn to speak the whole truth. 

III. Thev went on witli their work ; (f. 21.) 
WheJi they heard that ; wlicn they heard that it was 
the will of God that they should continue to preach 
m the temple, they returned to Solomon's porch 
there, v. 12. 

1. It was a gi-eat satisfaction to them to have these 
fresh orders. Perhaps, they began to question whe- 
ther, if they had their liberty, they should preach 
as publicly in the temple as they had dc^ne, because 
they had 'been bid, when they were persecuted in 
one city, to flee to another. Biit now that the angel 
ordered them to go preach in the temple, their way 
was ])lain, and they ventured without any difficulty, 
entered into the temple, and feared not the face of 
man. Note, If we may but be satisfied concerning 
ovir dutv, our business is to keep close to that, and 
then we mav cheerfully trust God with our safety. 

2. They set themselves immediately to execute 
them, without dis])ute or delay. They entered into 
the temple early in the mornin!^, (as soon as the 
gates were opened, and people began to come to- 
gether there,) and taught them the gospel of the 
kingdom ; and did not at all fear what man could do 
unto them. The case here was extraordinary, the 
whole treasure of the gospel is lodged in their hands ; 
if thev be silent now, the springs are slnit up, and 
the whole work falls to the ground, and is made to 
cease ; which is not the case of ordinary ministers, 
who therefore are not by this example bound to 
throw themselves into the mouth of danger ; and 
vet when God gives opportunity of doing good, 
though we l)e under the restraint and terror of hu- 
man powers, we shovdd venture far, rather than let 
go such an opportunity. 

IV. The High-Priest and his party went on with 
their prosecution, v. 21. They, suppposiiig they 
had the apostles sure enough, called the council to- 
irether, a great and extraordinary council, for they 
summoned all the senate of the children of Israel. 
See here, 

1. How they were prepared, and how big with 
expectation, to crush the gospel of Christ and tlie 
preachers of it, for they raised the whole posse. 
The last time they had the a])ostles in custodv, they 
convened them only before a committee of those 
that were of the kindred of the High-Priest, who 
were obliged to act cautiously ; but now, that they 
might proceed further and with more assurance, 
thev called togetlier, ■Trnirt.i t«v >-if str/ay — all the el- 
dership, that is, (savs Dr. Lightfoot,) all the three 
courts or benches of judges in Jenisalcm, not only 
the great Sanhedrim, consisting nf seventy elders, 
but the other two judicatories tliat were erected one 
in the outer court gate of the temple, the other in 
the inner or beautiful gate, consisting of twenty- 
three judges each. So that if tliere were a full ap- 
pearance, here were one hundred and sixteen judges. 
Thus God ordered it, that the confusion of the ene- 
mies might be more public, and the apostles' testi- 



" mony against them, and that these might hear the' 
gospel, who would iif)t hear it ciherwise than tV^ in 
the bar. Howbeit, the High-Priest meant not hO, 
neither did his heart think so ; but it was m his heart 
to rally all his forces against the apostles, and bv a 
universal consent to cut them all off at once. 

2. How they were disappointed, and had their 
faces filled with shame ; He that sits in heaven, 
laughs at them, and so may we too, to see how 
gravelv the court is set ; and we may suppose the 
High-Priest makes a solemn speech to them, setting 
forth the occasion of their coming together ; that a 
very dangerous faction was now lately raised at .le- 
nisalem, by the preaching of the doctrine of Jesus, 
which it was needful, for the presenation of their 
church, (which never was in such danger as now,) 
speedily and effectually to suj)])ress ; that it w;is 
now in the power of their hands to do it, for he had 
the ringleaders of the faction now in the common 
prison, to be proceeded against, if they would but 
agree to it, with the utmost se\erit\'. An officer 
is, in order hereunto, dispatched inimediatelv to 
fetch the prisoners to the bar. But see how they 
are baffled ; 

(1.) The officers come, and tell them that thev are 
not to be found in the prison, v. 22, 23. The last 
time they were forthcoming, when tliey were called 
for, ch. 4. 7. But now they were gone, and the re- 
port which the officers make, is, " Hie prison-doors 
truly found we shut with all safety ;" (nothing had 
been done to weaken them ;) " fhe keepers had nrt 
been wanting to their duty ; we found them standing 
nvithout before the doors, aitd knowing nothing to the 
contrary, but that the prisoners were all safe : 1)ut 
when we went in, we fjund no finin llierein, nrne 
of the men we were sent to fetch." It is probable 
that thev found the common prisoners there. \A'hich 
way the angel fetched them, whether by some back 
way, or opening the door, and fastening it close 
again, (the keepers all the while asleep,) we are n't 
told ; however it was, they were gone. The i^ord 
knows, though we do not, how to deliver the godly 
out of temptation, and how to loose those that are i?i 
bonds for his name's sake, and he will do it, as here, 
when he has occasion for them. 

Now think how blank the court looked, when the 
officers made this return upon their order ; (t'. 24.) 
men the High-Priest, and the captain of the tem- 
ple, and the chief priests, heard those things, they 
were all at a plunge, and looked upon one another, 
doubting what this thing should he. They were e.x- 
tremelxi perplexed , were at their wi/'s-e7id, having 
never been so dis:i])pointed in all their lives, (^f a 
thing thev were so sure of. It occasioned various 
speculations ; some suggesting that they were con- 
jured out of the prison, and made their escape by 
magic arts ; others, that the keepers had iilayed 
tricks with tluni, not knowing how many friends 
these prisoners had, that were so much the darlings 
of the people. Some feared that, having made such 
a wonderful esca])e, they would be the more fol- 
lowed ; others, that though perhaps they had fright- 
ened them from .Terusalem, they should hear of 
them again in some part or other of the country, 
where thev would do yet more mischief, and it 
would be vet more out of their power to stoj) the 
spreading of the infection : and now the^■ begin to 
fear that instead of curing the ill, tliey have made it 
worse. Note, Those often (^.istress and embarrass 
themselves, that think to distress and embairass the 
cause of Christ. 

(2.) Their doubt is, in part, drtormined ; and yet 
their vexation is increased by nr.i thor messenger, 
who brings them word that tin ir /irisoners are 
preaching in the tern file ; (v. 2.5.) " Prhold, the men 
whom ue put in prison, and have sent for to yoiivbar, 
are now hard b}- you here, nfanding in the ti ?rplr. 



THE ACTS, V. 



53 



under your nose, and in defiance of you, teaching the 
Jieopie." Prisoners, that have broken prison, ab- 
scond, for fear of being retaken : but these prison- 
ers, that here made their escape, dare to shew their 
faces even there where their persecutors have the 
greatest influence. Now this confounded them more 
than any thing. Common malefactors may have 
art enough to break prison ; but they are uncom- 
mon ones, that have courage enough to avow it when 
tliey have done. 

26, 'I'hen went the captain vvitii the offi- 
cers, and brought them without violence : 
for they feared the people, lest they should 
have been stoned. 27. And when they 
had brougiit them, they set them before the 
council : and the High-Priest asked them, 
28. Saying, Did not we straitly command 
you that ye should not teach in this name ? 
And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with 
your doctrine, and intend to bring this 
man's blood upon us. 29. Then Peter and 
the other apostles answered and said. We 
ought to obey God rather than men. 30. 
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, 
w:hom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 3 1 . 
yilim hath God exalted with his right hand 
to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give 
repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of 
sins. 32. And we are his witnesses of 
these things ; and so is also the Holy 
Ghost, whom God hath given to them that 
obey him. 33. When they heard that, they 
were cut to the heart, and took council to 
slay them. 34. Then stood there one up 
in the council, a Pharisee, named Gama- 
liel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation 
among all the people, and commanded to 
put the apostles forth a little space ; 35. 
And said unto them. Ye men of Israel, take 
heed to yourselves, what ye intend to do as 
touching these men. 36. For before these 
days stood up Theudas, boasting himself to 
be somebody ; to whom a number of men, 
about four hundred, joined themselves : 
who was slain ; and all, as many as obey- 
ed him, were scattered, and brought to 
nought 37. After this man rose up Judas 
of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and 
drew away much people after him : he also 
peiished ; and all, even as many as obeyed 
him, were dispersed. 38. And now I say 
unto you. Refrain from these men, and let 
them alone : for if this counsel or this work 
be of men, it will come to nought : 39. 
But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow 
it; lest haply ye be found even to fight 
against God. 40. And to him they agreed : 
and when tliey had called the apostles, 
md beaten them, they commanded that 
ihey should not speak in the name of Jesus, 
and let them go. 41. And they departed I 
horn ihe presence of the council, rejoicing I 



that they were counted worthy to suffer 
shame for his name. 42. And daily in the 
temple, and in every house, they ceased 
not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. 

We are not told what it was that the apostles 
preached to the people ; no doubt, it was, according 
to the direction of the angel, the ivords of this lijc ; 
but what passed between them and the council, we 
have here an account of ; for in their sufferings there 
appeared more of a divine power and energy than 
even in their preaching. Now here we have, 

I. The seizing of the apostles a second time. We 
may think, if God designed this, " Why were tliej 
rescued from their first imprisonment ?" But that 
was designed to humble the pride, and check the 
fury, of their persecutors ; and now he would shew 
that they were discharged ; not because they feared 
a trial, for they were ready to surrender themselves, 
and make their appearance before the greatest of 
their enemies. 

1. They brought them without violence, with all 
the respect and tenderness that could be : did not 
pull them out of the pulpit, nor bind them, or drag 
them along, but accosted them respectfully. One 
would think they had reason to do so, in reverence 
to the temple, that holy place, and for fear of the 
apostles, lest they should strike them, as they did 
Ananias, or call for fire from heaven upon them, as 
Elias did ; but all that restrained their violence, 
was, theiryear of the jjeojile, who had such a vene- 
ration for the apostles, that they would stone them 
if they offered them any abuse. 

2. y et they brought them to those who, they knew, 
were violent against them, and were resolved to take 
violent courses with them; {v. 27.) Th^y brought 
them, to set them before the council, as delinquents. 
Thus the powers that should have been a terror to 
evil works and workers, became so to the good. 

II. Their examination ; being brought before this 
august assembly, the High-Priest, as the mouth of 
the court, told them what it was they had to lay to 
their charge, v. 28. 

1. That they had disobeyed the comjiiands of au- 
thority, and would not submit to the injunctions and 
prohibitions given them ; {v. 28.) •' Did not we, by 
virtue of our authority, straitly charge and command 
you, upon pain of our highest displeasure, that you 
should 7iot teach in this name? But you have dis- 
obeyed our commands, and go on to preach not only 
without our licence, but against our express order. ' 
Thus they who make void the commandments of 
God, are commonly very strict in binding on their 
own commandments, and insisting upon their own 
power ; Did 7iot tve co?n?nand you? Yes, they did ; 
but did not Peter at the same time tell them, that 
God's authority was superior to their's, and his com- 
mands must take place of their's .' And they had 
forgotten that. 

2. That they spread false doctrine among the peo- 
ple, or at least a singular doctrine, which was not 
allowed by the Jewish church, nor agreed with what 
was delivered from Moses's chair; " Ye have filled 
Jerusalem ivith your doctrine, and therebv have dis- 
turljed the public ])eace, and drawn people from the 
public establishment. " Some take this for a haughtv 
scornful woi-d ; " This silly senseless doctrine of 
your's, that is not worth taking notice of, you ha\e 
made such a noise with, that even Jerusalem, the 
great and linly city, is become full of it, and it is all 
the talk of tlie town." They are angry that men, 
whom they looked uyion as despicable, should make 
thenisehes thus considerable. 

o. That they had a malicious design against the 
government, and aimed to stir up the people against 
!*■, I)y representing it as wicked and t\ rannxal, and 
that had made itself justly odious both to God and 



o4 



THE ACTS, V 



man ; " Ye bitend to bring this man's blood, the guilt 
of it before God, the shame of it before men, 2ifio?i 
us." Thus they charge them not only with contu- 
macy and contempt of the coui-t, but with sedition 
and faction, and a plot to set not only the people 
against them, for having persecuted even to death 
not only so innocent but so good and great a man as 
this Jesus, but the Romans too, for having drawn 
them into it. See. here how those that with a great 
deal of presumption will do an evil thing, yet cannot 
bear to hear oi it afterward, or to have it cha7"ged 
upon them. When they were in the heart of the 
persecution, they could cry daringly enough, " Nis 
blood be ti/ion us, and ufion our children ; let us bear 
the blame for ever." But now that they have time 
for a cooler thought, they take it as a heinous aflfront 
to have his blood laid at their door. Thus are they 
convicted and condemned by their own consciences, 
and dread lying under that guilt which they were 
not afraid to involve themselves in. 

III. Their ansiver to the charge exhibited against 
them ; Peter and the other apostles all spake to the, 
same purport ; whether severally examined, or an- 
swering jointly, they spake as one and the same 
Spirit gave them utterance, depending upon the 
promise their Master had made them, that, when 
they were brought before councils, it should be given 
them in that same hour what they should sfieak, and 
courage to speak it. 

1. They justified themselves in their disobedience 
to the commands of the great Sanhedrim, great as 
it was; {y. 29.) IVe ought to obey God rather than 
men. They do not plead the power they had to 
work miracles, (that spake sufficiently for them, and 
therefore they humbly decline mentioning it them- 
selves,) but they appeal to a maxim universally 
owned, and which even natural conscience subscribes 
to, and which comes home to their case. God had 
commanded them to teach in the name of Christ, 
and therefore they ought to do it, though the chief 
priests forbade them. Those rulers set up in oppo- 
sition to God, and have a gi-eat deal to answer for, 
who punish men for disobedience to them, in that 
which was their duty to God. 

2. They justify themselves in doing what they 
could to fill Jerusalem with the doctrine of Christ, 
though, in preaching him up, they did indeed reflect 
upon those that maliciously ran him down ; and if 
they thereby bring his blood upon them, they may 
thank themselves. It is charged upon them as a 
crime, that they preached Christ and his gospel ; 
" Now," say they, " we will tell you who this Christ 
is, and what his gospel is, and then do you judge 
whether we ought not to preach it ; nay, and we shall 
take this opportunity to preach it to you, whether 
you will hear, or whether you will forbear." 

(1.) The chief priests are told to their faces the 
indignities they did to this Jesus ; " Ye slew him and 
hanged him on a trer, ye cannot deny it." The 
apostles, instead of making an excuse, or begging 
their pardon, for bringing the guilt of this man's 
blood upon them, rcjieat the charge, and stand to it ; 
"It was von that slew him; it was your act and 
deed." Note, Peojjle's being unwilling to hear of 
their faults, is no good reason why they should not 
he faithfully told of them. It is a common excuse 
made for not reproving sin, that the times will not 
hear it. But they whose office it is to reprove, must 
not be awed bv that ; the times must bear it, and 
shall l)ear it ; Cry aloud, and spare not ; cry aloud 
and tear not. 

(2.) Thev are told also what honours (Jod put 
ui)on this Jesus, and then let them t^idge who was 
in the right, the persecutors of his doctrine, or the 
preachers of it. He calls God the God of our fa- 
thers, not only ours, but yours, to shew that in 
preaching Christ they did not preach a new god, nor 



entice people to come and worship, ether gods; nor 
did they set up an institution contrary o that of 
Moses and the pro])hets, but they adhered to the 
God of the Jewish fathers ; and that name of Christ 
which they preached, answered the promises made 
to the fathers, and the covenant God entered into 
with them, and the types and figuics of the law he 
gave them. The God fi Abraham, Isaac, hikI Ja 
cob, is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; 
see what honour he did him. 

[1.] He raised hi?n up ; that is, he qualified him 
for, and called him to, his great undertaking. It 
seems to refer to the pj-omisc God made by Moses, 
^ Prophet shall the Lord your. God raise up unto 
you. God raised him up out of obscurity, ;md made 
him great. Or, it may be meant of his raising him 
up from the grave ; " You put hiin to death, but God 
has restored him to life, so that (iod and vou are 
manifestly contesting about this Jesus ; and which 
must we side with ?" 

[2.] He exalted him with his right hand, v-^urt — 
hath lifted him up. " You loaded him with disgrace, 
but God has crowned him with honour ; and ought 
we not to honour him whom God honours ?" God 
has exalted him, ri Ji^il uuth — with his right hand, 
that is, by his powei- put forth ; Christ is said to live 
by the power of Gael. Or, to his right hand, to sit 
there, to rest there, to rule there ; '* He has invested 
him with the highest dignity, and intrusted him with 
the highest authority, and therefore v.e must teach 
in his name, for God has give?! him a 7iame above 
exfery name." 

[3.] " He has appointed him to be a Prince ana 
a Saviour, and therefore we ought to preach in his 
name, and to publish the laws r>f his government as 
he is a Prince, and the offci's of his grace as he is a 
Saviour." Observe, tliei-e is no having Christ to 
be otn- Saviour, unless we l)e willing to take him for 
our Pnnce. We cannot expect to be redeemed and 
healed by him, unless we give up ourselves to be 
ruled by him. The judges of old were saviours. 
Christ's ruling is in order to his saving, and faith 
takes an entire Chi-ist, that came, not to save us in 
our sins, but to save us from our sins. 

[4.] He is appointed, as a Prince and a Saviour, 
to gri'e repentance to Israel and remission of sins. 
Therefore thev must preach in his name to the peo- 
ple of Israel, for liis favours wei'e designed, prima- 
rily and principally for them ; and none that truly 
loved their country, could be agiiinst that. \A'hy 
should the rulers and elders of Israel opjjose one who 
came with no less a blessing to Isi-ael than repen- 
tance and pardon ? Had he been exalted to give 
deliverance to Israel from the Roman yoke, ar.<! do- 
minion over the neighbouring nations, the chief 
priests would have welcomed him with all their 
hearts. But repentance and remission of sins are 
blessings they neither value nor see their need of, 
and therefore they can b\- no means admit his doc- 
trine. Observe here. First, Repentance and remis- 
sion go together ; wherever re])entance is wrought, 
remission is without fail granted, and the favour 
given to all those to whom is given the qualification 
for it. On the other hand, no remission without re- 
pentamc ; none are freed from the i^Miilt and ])unish- 
ment of sin but those that are freed from the ])ower 
and dominion of sin ; that arc tunied from it, and 
turned against it. Secondly, It is Jesi/s Christ that 
gives, and h authorized to give, both repentance and 
remission, \^'hatsoe\■er is required in the gospel- 
covenant, is promised. Are we appointed to repent * 
Christ is ai)pointcd to give rei)cntanre, by his Spirit 
working with the word, to awaken the conscience, 
to work contrition for sin, and an effectual change in 
the heart and life. The new heart is his work, and 
the broken spirit a sacrifice of his pro\ iding ; and 
when he has given repentance, if he should not give 



THE ACTS, V. 



55 



remission, he would forsake the work of his own 
hands. See how necessary it is that we repent, and 
that we apply ourselves- to Christ by faith for his 
grace to work repentance in us. 

\ [5.] All this is well attested. First, By the afios- 
tles inemne/ves ; they are ready to testify upon oath, 
if required, that they saw him alive after his resur- 
rection, and saw him ascend into heaven ; and also 
that they experienced the power of his grace upon 

. their hearts, raising them up to that which was far 
above their natural capacities. •' IVe are his wit- 
nesses, appointed by him to ]jublish this to the world, 
and if we should be silent, as you would have us, we 
should betray a trust, and be false to it." When a 
cause is trying, witnesses, of all men, ought not to 
be silenced, for the issue of the cause depends on 
their testimony. Secondly, By the Sfiirit of God ; 
" We are witnesses, competent ones, and whose 
testimony is sufficient before any human judicature. " 
But that is not all. The Holy Ghost is witness, a wit- 
ness from heaven ; for God hath gwen his gifts and 
graces to them that obey Christ. Therefore we must 
preach in his name, because for this end the Holy 
Ghost is given us, whose operations we cannot stifle. 
Note, The giving of the Holy Ghost to obedient 
believers, not only to bring them to the obedience of 
faith, but to make them eminently useful therein, is 
a very strong proof of the truth of Christianity. God 
gave the rfoly Ghost by his Son and in his name, 
(John 14. 26.) and in answer to his prayer; (John 14. 
16.) nav, it was Christ that sent him from the Fa- 
ther; (John 15. 26. — 16. 17.) and this proves the 
glory to which the Father has exalted him. The 
great work of the Spirit being not only to justify 
Christ, (1 Tim. 3. 16.) but to glorify him, and all 
his gifts having a direct tendency to exalt his name, 
prc\ es that his doctrine is divine, else it would not 
be carried on thus by a divine power. And, Lastly, 
The giving of the Holy Ghost to them that obey 
Christ, both for their assistance in their obedience, 
and as a present recompense for their obedience, is 
a plain evidence that it is the will of God that Christ 
should be obeyed; "and then judge whether we 
ought to obey you in opposition to him. " 

IV. The impression which the apostles' defence 
of themselves made upon the court ; it was contrary 
to what one would have expected fi'om men that 
pretended to reason, learning, and sanctity ; surely 
such fair reasoning could not but clear the prisoners, 
and convert the judges ; no, instead of yielding to it, 
they raged against it, and were filled, 

1. With indignation at what the apostles said; 
they were cut to the heart, angry to see their own 
sin set in order before them ; stark mad to find that 
the gospel of Christ had so much to say for itself, 
and, consequently, was likely to get ground. When 
a sermon was preached to the people to this purport, 
they were pricked to the heart, in remorse and godly 
sorrow, ch. 2. 37. These here were cut to the heart 
with rage and indignation. Thus the same gospel 
is to some a savour of liff unto life, to others of death 
unto death. The enemies of the gospel not only de- 
prive themselves of its comforts, but fill themselves 
with terrors, and are tlieir own tormentors. 

2. With malice against the apostles tliemseUes ; 
since they see they cannot stop Iheir mouths any 
other way than by stopping their breath, thev f.rke 
counsel to slay them, ho])inc: that so thev sh' uld 
cause the work to cease. VV'hile the apostles went 
on in the service of Chi'ist, with a holy security and 
serenity of mind, perfectly composed, and in a sweet 
enjnvment of themselves, their persecutors went on 
in their opposition to Christ, with a continualper- 
plexity and perturbation of mind, and \exat.on to 
themselves. 

V. The grave advice which Gamaliel, a leading 
man in the council, gave upon this occasion, the 



scope of which was to moderate the fury of these 
bigots, and check the violence of the prosecution. 
This Gamaliel is here said to be a Pharisee by his 
profession and sect, and by office a doctor of the law, 
one that studied the scriptures of the Old 1 estament, 
read lectures upon the sacred authors, and trained 
up pupils in the knowledge of them ; Paul was brought 
up at his feet ; {ch. 22. 3. ) and tradition says, that 
so were Stephen and Barnabas. Some say that he 
was the son of that Simeon that took up Christ in his 
arms, when he was presented in the temple ; and 
grandson of the famous Hillel. He is here said to 
be />2 refiutation among all the people for his wisdom 
and conduct ; it appearing by this passage that he 
was a moderate man, and not apt to go in with fu- 
rious measures. Men of temper and charity are 
justly had in reputatiqn, for checking the incendia- 
ries that otherwise would set the earth on fire. Now 
observe here, 

1. The necessary caution he gives to the council, 
with reference to the case before them ; he com- 
manded to fiiit the apostles forth a little while, that 
he might speak the more freely, and be the more 
freely answered ; (it was fit that the prisoners should 
withdraw when their cause was to be debated ;) and 
then put the house in mind of the importance of this 
matter, which in their heat they were not capable 
of considering as they ought ; "Ye men of Israel, 
saith he, take heed to'yourselves, consider what you 
do, or intend to do, as touching these inen, v. 35. It 
is not a common case, and therefore should not be 
hastily determined." He calls them men of Israel, 
to enforce this caution ; "You are men, that should 
be governed by reason, be not then as the horse and 
the mule that have no understanding ; you are men 
of Israel, that should be governed by revtlaticn, be 
not then as strangers and heathens, that have no re- 
gard to God and his word. Take heed to yourselves, 
now that you are angry at these men, lest you w'/- 
dle to your own hurt." Note, The persecutors of 
God's people had best look to themselves, lest they 
fall into the pit which they dig. We have need to 
be cautious whom we give trouble to, lest we be 
found making the hearts of the righteous sad. 

2. The cases he cites, to pave the way to his opi- 
nion ; two instances he gives of factious seditious 
men, (such as they would have the apostles thought 
to be,) whose attem])ts came to nothing of them- 
selves; whence he infers, that if these men were in- 
deed such as thev represented them, their cause 
would sink with its own weight, and Providence 
would infatuate and defeat them, and then they 
needed not persecute them. 

(1.) There was one Theudas, that made a mighty 
noisf for a while, as one sent of ( jod, boasting him 
self to be somebodu, some great one, (so the word is,) 
either a teacher or a ])rince, with a divine commis- 
sion to cffi^ct some great revolution either in the 
church or in the state ; and he observes here, (t'. 
36.) concerning him, [1.] How far he prevailed; 
" yl number of men, about four hundred in all, joined 
themselves to him, that knew not what to do with 
themselves, or hoped to mend themselves ; and they 
seemed then a formidable body." [2.] How soon 
his pretensions were all dashed; "\\'hen he was 
slain," (probal)lv in war,) "there needed no mere 
ado, all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and 
melted away like snow before the sun. Now com- 
pare that case with this; you have slain Jesus, the 
rini';le'ider of this faction, you have taken him < ffi 
Now if he was, as you say he was, an impostor and 
pretender, his death, like that of Thcujlas, will be 
tlie death of his cause, and the final dispersion of his 
followers." From what has been, we mry infer 
what will be in a like case ; the siniting of the ishrfi- 
herd will be the scattering of the sheep ; and if the 
God of peace had not brought again from the dead. 



56 



THE ACTS, V. 



'hat grea( Shcjiherd, the dispersion of the sheep, at 
his death, had been total and final. 

(2. ) The case was the same with Judas of Galilee, 
V. 37. Observe, [1.] The attempt he made. It is 
said to be after this; which some read, beside this, 
or. Let me mention, after thvi ; supposing that Ju- 
das's insurrection was long before that of Theudas ; 
for it was in the time of the taxation, that at our Sa- 
viour's birth, (Luke 2. 1.) and that of Theudas, 
whom Jose])hus speaks of, that mutinied, in the time 
of Cus/tius Fadus ; but that was in the days of Clau- 
dius Cxsar, some years after Gamaliel spake this, 
and therefore could not be the same. It is not easy 
to determine particularly when these events hap- 
pened, nor whether this taxing was the same with 
that at our Saviour's birth, or one of a later date. 
Some think this Judas of Galilee was the same with 
Judas Gaulonites, whom Josephus speaks of, others 
not. It is probable that they were cases which lately 
happened, and were fresh in memory ; this Judas 
drew uivatj much Jieofile after him, who gave credit 
to his pretensions. But, [2.] Here is the defeat of 
his attempt, and that without any interposal of the 
great Sanlicdrim, oi* any decree of theirs against 
him ; (it did not need it ;) he also perished, arid all 
even as many as obeyed him, or were persuaded by 
him, were dispersed. Many have foolishly thrown 
away their lives, and brought others into the same 
snares, by a jealousy for their liberties, in the days 
of the taxin!r, who had better have been content, 
when Pi-ovidence had so determined, to serve the 
I'ing- of Ba b y lo n . 

3. His opinion upon the whole matter. 

(1.) That they sliould not persecute the apostles ; 
{v. 38.) J\'ow I say unto you, ru vuv — for the /ire- 
sent, as the matter now stands, my advice is, " Be- 
frain from these men ; neither punish them for 
what they have done, nor restrain them for the fu- 
ture. Coimive at them, let them take their course ; 
let not our hand he ufion them." It is uncertain 
whether he spake this out of policy, for fear of of- 
fending either the people or the Romans, and making 
further mischief. The ajjostles did not attempt any 
thing by outward force, the weapons of their war- 
fare were not carnal ; and therefore why should any 
outward force be used against them ? Or, whether 
he was under some present convictions, at least of 
the probal)ility f)f the truth of the christian doctrine, 
and thought it deserved better treatment, at least a 
fair trial ; or, whether it was only the language of 
a mild quiet spirit, that was against persecution for 
conscience-sake ; or, whether God put this word 
into his mouth l)eyond his own intention, for the de- 
liverance of the apostles at this time ; we are sure 
there was an o\er-ruling Pi-ovidence in it, that the 
servants of Christ might not only come off, but come 
off honourably. 

(2. ) Tliat they should refer this matter to Provi- 
dence ; '• Wait the issue, and see what it will come 
to. If it. be of men, it nvill come to noui^ht of itself, 
if of God, it -vill sfand, in spite of all your powers 
and policies." That which is apparently wicked 
and immoral must be suppresserl, else the magis- 
tnitc bears the sword in vain ; but that which has a 
k'icw of good, and it is doubtful whether it be of 
God or ?nen, it is best to let it alone, and let it take 
its fate, not to use any external force for the sup- 
pressing of it. Christ rules by the power of truth, 
not of the sword. 

Whit Christ asked concerning John's baptism, 
Jt'as it from heaven, or of rnrn ? was a question 
proper to be asked concemmg the apostles' doctrine 
and baptism, which followed Christ, as John Bap- 
tist's went bcfoi-e him ; now they, having owned 
'■.oncerning the former, that they could not tell whe- 
ther it was from h'aven or of men, ought not to be 
(oo confident concerning the latter ; but take it 



which way you will, it is a reason why they should 
not be persecuted. 

[1.] "li this counsel, and this work, this foraiing 
of a society, and incoiporating it in the name of Je 
sus, be of meri, it ivill come to nothing. If it be the 
counsel and work of foolish men, that know not 
what they do, let them alone a while, and they will 
imn themselves out of breath, and their folly ivill be 
7nanifest before all ?nen, and they will make them- 
selves ridiculous. If it be the counsel and work of 
politic and designing men, who, under colour of re- 
ligion, are setting up a secular interest, let them 
alone a while, and they will throw off the mask, 
and their knavery will be manifest to all men, and 
they will make themselves odious ; Providence will 
never countenance it ; it will come to nothing- in a 
little time ; and, if so, your persecuting and opposing 
it is very needless ; there is no occasion for giving 
yourselves so much trouble, and bringing such an 
odium upon yourselves, to kill that, w-hich, if you 
give it a little time, will die of itself. The unneces- 
sary use of power is an abuse of it. But," 

[2.] "If it should prove, (and as wise men as you 
have been mistaken,) that this counsel and this work 
is of God, that tliese preachers have their commis- 
sions and instructions from him, that they are as 
truly his messengers to the world as the Old Testa- 
ment prophets were ; then what do you think of 
persecuting them, of this attempt of your's {v. 33.) 
to slay them? You must conclude it to be," 7'V7-s^, 
" A fruitless attempt against them ; if it be of God, 
you cannot overthow it ; for there is no wisdo7n nor 
counsel against the Lord ; he that sits in heaven, 
laughs at you." It may be the comfort of all who 
are sincerely on God's side, who have a single eye 
to his will as their inile, and his" glory as their end, 
that, whatsoever is of God, cannot be overthrown 
totally and finally, though it may be very vigorously 
opposed ; it may be run upon, but cannot be nm 
down. Secondly, "A dangerous attempt to vour- 
selves. Pray let it alone, lest haply ye be found 
ex'en to fight against God ; ar.d I need not tell you 
who will come off by the worse in that contest." 
Woe unto him that strives with his Maker, for he 
will not only be overcome as an impotent enemy, 
but severely reckoned with as a rebel and traitor 
against his rightful Prince. They that hate and 
abuse God's faithful people, that restrain and silence 
his faithful ministers, Jight against God ; for he 
takes what is done against them as done against 
himself ; whoso touches them, touches the apple of 
his eye. 

V\'ell, this was the advice of (iamaliel ; we wish 
it were duly considered by those that persecute for 
conscience-sake, for it was a good thought, and na- 
tural enough, though we are uncertain what the 
man was. The tradition of the Jewish writers is, 
that, for all this, he lived and died an inveterate 
enemy to Christ and his gospel ; and though (now 
at least) he was not for persecuting the followers of 
Christ, yet he was the man who composed that 
prayer which the Jews use to this day, for the ex- 
tirpating of Christians and Christianity. On the 
contrary, the traditions of the Papists is, that he 
turned Christian, and became an eminent patron of 
C.hristianity, and a follower of Paul, who had sat 
at his feet.' If that had been so, it is very jjrobable 
that we should have heard of him somewhere in the 
Acts or F.fiistles. 

VI. The determination of the council upon the 
whole mattei", v. 40. 

1. Thus far thev agreed with Gamaliel, that they 
let fall the design of |)utting the apostles to death. 
riiey saw a great deal of reason in what (iamaliel 
said, and, for the present, it trave some check to 
theii- furv, and a remainder of their wrath was re 
strained bv it. 



THE ACTS, VI. 



2. Yet they could not forbear giving some vent 
to their rage, (so outrageous was it,) conti'ary to the 
convictions of their judgments and consciences ; for, 
though they were advised to let them alone, yet, 
(1. ) They beat them, scourged them as malefactors, 
stripped them, and whipped them, as they used to 
do in the synagogues, and notice is taken {v. 41.) of 
the ignomy of it ; thus tliey thought to make them 
ashamed of preacliing, and the people ashamed of 
hearing tliem ; as Pilate scourged our Saviour, to 
■expose him, when yet he declared he found 710 fault 
m him. (2. ) They commanded them that they mould 
not s/ieafc any more in (he name of Jesus ; that, if 
they could find no other fault with their preaching 
they might have this ground to reproach it, that it 
was against law, and not only without the permission, 
but against the express order of their superiors. 

VII. Tl\e wonderful courage and constancy of the 
apostles in the midst of all these injuries and indig- 
nities done them ; when they were dismissed, they 
departed from the council, and we do not find one 
word they said by way of reflection upon the court, 
and the unjust treatment given them ; when they 
were reviled, they reviled not again ; and when 
they suffered, they threatened not, but committed 
their cause to him, to whom Gamaliel had referred 
it, even to a God who judgeth righteously . All 
their business was to preserve the possession of their 
own siuls, and to make full firoof of their ministry, 
notwithstanding the opposition given them ; and both 
these they did to admiration. 

1. They bore their suflFei'ings with an invincible 
cheerfulness; {v. 41.) When they went out, per- 
haps, with the marks of the lashes, given them on 
their arms and hands, appearing, hissed at by the 
servants and rabble, it may be, or public notice given 
of the infamous punishment they had undergone, 
instead of being ashamed of Christ, and their rela- 
tion to him, they rejoiced that they were counted 
worthy to suffer shame for his name. They were 
men, and men in reputation, that had never done 
any thing to make themselves vile, and therefore 
could not but have a sense of the shame they suffered, 
which, it should seem, was more grievous to them 
than the smart, as it is to ingenuous minds; but 
they considered that it was for the name of Christ 
that they were thus abused, because they belonged 
to him, and served his interest, and their sufferings 
should be m;ide to contribute to the further advance- 
ment of his name ; and therefore, (1.) They reckon- 
ed it an honour, looked upon it that they were counted 
ivorthy to siffer shame, x«T«^<wS«irav CKrifj.a.<rBm<tt — 
that they were honoured, to be dishonoured for 
Christ. Reproach for Christ is true preferment, as 
it makes us conformable to his pattern and service- 
able to his interest. (2. ) They rejoiced in it, remem- 
bering what their Master had said to theni at their 
first setting out ; (Matt. 5. 11, 12.) When ?nen shall 
rex<iie you, and fiersecute you, rejoice and be exceed- 
ing glad. They rejoiced, not only though they suf- 
fered shame, (their troubles did not diminish their 
joy,) but that they suffered shame; their trout)les 
increased their joy, and added to it. If we suffer ill 
for doing well, provided we suffer it well, and as we 
should, we ought to rejoice in that grace which en- 
abled us so to do. 

2. Tlicy went on in their work with indefatigable 
diligence ; {v. 42. ) They were punished for preach- 
ing, and were commanded Jiot to fireach, and yet 
then cased not to teach and /ireach ; they omitted 
no opportunity, nor abated any thing of their zeal or 
forwardness. Observe, (1.) When they preached — 
daily ; not only on sabbath-days, or on Lord's days, 
but every day, as duly as the day came, without in- 
termitting any day, as their M ister did, (Luke 19. 
47. Matt. 26. 55.) not fearing that they should either 
till themselves, or clov their hearers. (2.) Where 

Vol. VI.— H ' 



they preached — both publicly in the temfile, and 
privately in every house; in promiscuous assem- 
blies, to ^^•hich all re&nrted ; and in the select assem- 
blies of christians for s])ecial ordinances. They did 
not think that either one would excuse them from 
the other, for the word nuist be Jireuched in season 
and out of season. Though in the temfile they were 
more exposed, and under the eye of their enemies, 
yet they did not confine themselves to their little 
oratories in their own houses, ijut ventured into the 
post of danger ; and though they had the liberty of 
the temfile, a consecrated place, yet they made no 
difficulty of preaching in houses, in every house, 
e\'en tlie poorest cottage. They visited the families 
of those that were under their charge, and gave 
particular instructions to them, according as their 
case required ; even to the children and ser\-ants. 
(3.) What was the subject matter of their preach- 
ing ; They fireached Jesus Christ ; they fireached 
concerning him ; that was not all, they preached 
him up, they proposed him to those who heard 
them, to be their Pri?tce and Saviour. They did 
not fireach themselves, but Christ, as faithful friends 
to the Bridegroom, making it their business to ad- 
vance his interest. This was the preaching that 
gave most offence to the priests ; they were willing 
that they should fireach any thing but Christ ; but 
they would not alter their subject to please them. 
It ought to be the constant business of gospel-minis- 
ters to fireach Christ; Christ, and him cruci/ted ; 
Christ, and him glorified ; nothing beside this, but 
what is reducible to it. 

CHAP. VI. 

In this chapter, we have, I. The discontent that was among 
the disciples about the distribution of the public charity, 
V. 1. II. The election and ordination of seven men, who 
should take care of that matter, and ease the apostles of 
the burthen, V. 2. .6. III. Tiie increase of the church, 
by the addition of many to it, v. 7. IV. A particular ac- 
count of Stephen, one of the seven. I. His great activity 
for Christ, v. 8. 2. The opposition he met with from the 
enemies of Christianity, and his disputes with them, v. 9, 
10. 3. The convening of him before the great Sanhedrim, 
and the crimes laid to his charge, v. li . . 14. 4. God's 
owning him upon his trial, v. 15. 

1. A ND in those days, when the num- 
J\. ber of the disciples was multiphed, 

there arose a murmuring of the Grecians 
against the Hebrews, because their widows 
were neglected in the daily ministration. 

2. Then the twelve called the multitude 
of the disciples mito them., and said, It is 
not reason that we should leave the word 
of God, and serve tables. 3. Wherelbre, 
brethren, look ye out among you seven 
men of honest report, full of the Holy 
Ghost and wisdom, whom we may ap])oint 
over this business. 4. But we will give 
ourselves continually to prayer, and to the 
ministry of the word. 5. And the saying 
pleased the whole multitude : and they 
chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of 
the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, 
and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, 
and Nicolas a proselyte of Anlioch : 6. 

j Whom they set before the apostles: and 
. when they had prayed, they laid thrir hands 
I on them. 7. And the word of God in- 
1' creased ; and the number of the disciples 



58 



THE ACTS, VI. 



multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a 
great company of the priests were obedient 
to the faith. 

Having seen the church's struggles with its ene- 
mies, and triumphed with her in her victories, we 
now come to take a view of the administration of its 
affairs at home ; and here we have, 

I. An unhappy disagreement among some of the 
church members, which might have been of ill con- 
sequence, but was piTidently accommodated and 
taken up in time ; {v. 1.) Jl'Aen the number of the 
disci/iles (for so christians were at first calFed, learn- 
ers of Christ^ was multi/ilied to many thousands in 
Jerusalem, t/ien arose a murmuring: 

1. It does our hearts good to find that the number 
of the disciples is multifilied, as, no doubt, it vexed 
the firiests and Sadducees to the heart to see it. The 
opposition that the preaching of the gospel met with, 
instead of checking its progress, contributed to the 
success of it ; and this infant Christian church, like 
the infant Jewish church in Egypt, the more it was 
afflicted, the 7nore it multifilied. The preachers 
were beaten, threatened, and abused, and yet the 
people received their doctrine, invited, no doubt, 
thereto, by their wonderful patience and cheerful- 
ness under their trials, which convinced men that 
they were borne up and carried on by a better spirit 
than their own. 

2. Yet it casts a damp upon us to find that the 
7nulti}ilying of the disciples proves an occasion of 
discord. Hitherto they were all with one accord ; 
this l\ad been often taken notice of to their honour ; 
but now that they were multiplied, they began to 
murmur ; as in the old world, when men began to 
multiply, they corrupted themselves. Thou hast 
multiplied the nation, and not increased their joy, 
Isa. 9. 3. When Abraham and Lot increased their 
families, there was a strife between their herdmen ; 
so it was here ; there arose a murmuring, not an 
open falling out, but a secret heart-burning. 

(1.) The complainants were the Grecians, or Hel- 
lenists, against the Hebrews. The Jews that were 
scattered in Greece, and other parts, who ordinarily 
spake the Greek tongue, and read the Old Testa- 
ment in the Greek version, and not the original He- 
brew, many of which, being at Jerusalem at the 
feast, embraced the faith of Christ, and were added 
to the church, and so continued there ; these com- 
plained against the Hebrews, the native Jews, that 
used the original Hebrew of the Old Testament. 
Some of each of these became christians, and, it 
seems, their joint-embracing of the faith of Christ 
did not prevail, as it ought to have done, to extin- 
guish the little jealousies they had had one of ano- 
ther before their conversion, but they retained some- 
what of that old leaven ; not understanding, or not 
remembering, that in Christ Jesus there is neither 
Greek nor Jew, no distinction of Hebrew and Hel- 
lenist, but all are alike welcome to Christ, and should 
be, for his sake, dear to one another. 

(2.) The complaint of these Cirecians, was, that 
their nuidows were neglected in the daily administra- 
tion, that is, in the distribution of the public charity, 
and tlic Hebrew widows had more care taken of 
them. Observe, The first contention in the chris- 
tian church was about a monev-matter ; but it is pity 
that the little things of this world should l)e make- 
baits among those that profess to be taken up with 
the great things of another world. A great deal of 
money was gathered for the relief of the poor, but, 
as often happens in such cases, it was impossible to 
please every body in the laying of it out. The apos- 
tles, at whose feet it was laid, did their best to dis- 
pose of it so as to answer the intentions of the donors, 
and, no doubt, designed to do it with the utmost im- 
partiality, and were far from respecting the He- 



brews more than the Grecians ; and yet here they 
are complained to, and implicitly <-,omplained ot, 
that the Grecian widows were neglected; though 
they were as real objects of charitv, yet they had 
not so much allowed them, or not to so many, or net 
so duly paid them, as the Hebrews. ISow, [1.] 
Perhaps this complaint was groundless and u'ljust, 
and there was no cause fcr it ; but those \vh», u]jon 
any account, lie under disadvantages, (as the Ure- 
cian Jews did, in comparison witli tiiem that were 
Hebrews of the Hebrews,) aie a]n to be jealous that 
they are slighted, when reall\ they are not so; and 
it is the common fault of poor people, that, instead 
of being thankful for what is given them, they ai'e 
querulous and clamorous, and apt to find fault that 
more is not given them, or that more is gi\ en to 
others than to them ; and there are env}- and covet- 
ousness, those roots of bittei-ness, to be found among 
the poor as well as among the rich, notwithstanding 
the humbling providences they are under, and should 
accommodate themselves to! But, [2.] \\'e will 
suppose there might be some occasion for their coiij- 
plamt. First, Some suggest, that though their other 
poor were well provided for, }et their widows voere 
neglected, because the managers governed them- 
selves by an ancient rule which the Hebrews ob- 
served, that a widow was to be maiiitained by her 
husband's children. See 1 Tim. 5. 4. Butj Se- 
condly, I take it, that the widows are here put for 
all the poor, because many of them that were in the 
church-book, and recei\ed alms, ivere widows, who 
were well provided for by the industiy of their hus- 
bands while they lived, but were reduced to straits 
when they were gone. As those that have the ad- 
ministration of public justice. ought in a particular 
manner to protect widows from injvuy, (Isa. 1. 17. 
Luke 18. 3.) so those that have the administration 
of public charity ought in a particular n)anner tc 
provide for widows what is necessary. See 1 Tim. 
5. 3. And observe, the widows here, and the other 

J)oor, had a daily ministration ; perhajis they wanted 
orecast, and could not save for licreatter, and there- 
fore the managers of the fund, in kindness to them, 
gave them day by day their daily bread ; they lived 
from hand to mouth. Now, it seems, the Grecian 
ividows were, comparatively, neglected ; perhaps 
those that disposed of the money considered that 
there was more brought into the fund by the rich 
Hebrews than was by the rich Grecians, who had 
not estates to sell, as the Hebrews had, and there- 
fore the poor Grecians should have less out of the 
fund ; this, though there was some tolerable reason 
for it, they thought hard and unfair. Nc}te, In the 
Ijcst ordered church in the world there will be some- 
thing amiss, some mal-administration or other, some 
grievances, or at least some complaints ; they are 
the best, that have the least and fewest. 

II. The happy accommodating of this matter, and 
the expedient j)itchcd upon for the taking away of 
the cause of this murmuring. The a])ostles liad 
hitherto the directing of the matter, a]i])lications 
were made to them, and appeals in case of griev- 
ances ; they were obliged to employ ])ersons under 
them, who did not take all the care they might have 
taken, nor were so well fortified as tlie)- should have 
been against temptations to])artiality ; and therefore 
some persons must be chosen to manage this mat- 
ter, wno have more leisure to attend it than the 
apostles had, and were better qualified for the ti-ust 
than those whom the apostles employed were. Now 
observe, 

1. How the method was proposed by the apos- 
tles ; They called the multitude of the disciples unto 
them, the heads of the congregations of christians in 
Jenisalem, the ])rincii)al leading men. The twelve 
themselves would not determine any thing without 
them, for in multitude of counscllois lh(re i-t safety i 



THE ACTS, VI. 



59 



and in an affair of this nature they might be best 
able to advise, who were more conversant in the 
affairs of this hfe than the apostles were. 

(1.) The apostles urge, that they could by no 
means admit so great a diversion, as this would be, 
from their great work ; {v. 2. ) It is not reasonable 
that we should leave the ivord of God, and sei-ve 
tables. Receiving and paying money was ser-rnng' 
tables, too like the tables of the money-changers in 
the temfile ; this was foreign to the business which 
the apostles were called to, they were to preach the 
ivord of God ; and though they had not such oc- 
casion to study for what they preached as we have, 
(it being given in that same hour what they should 
sfieak,) yet they thought that was work enough for 
a whole man, and to employ all their thoughts, and 
cares, and time, though one man of them was more 
than ten of us, than ten thousand. If they serve 
tables, they must, in some measure, leave the word 
of God ; they could not attend their preaching work 
so closely as they ought. Pectora nostra duas non 
admittentia curas — These minds of ours admit not 
of two distinct anxious emfiloyw.ents. Though this 
serving tables was for pious uses, and serving the 
charity of rich christians, and the necessity of poor 
christians, and in both serving Christ, yet the apos- 
tles would not take so much time from their preach- 
ing as this would require. They will no more be 
drawn from their preaching by the money laid at 
their feet, than they will be driven from it by the 
stripes laid on their backs. While the number of 
the disciples was few, the apostles might manage 
this matter without making it any considerable 
avocation from their main business ; but now that 
their number was increased, they could not do it. 
It is not reason, »* ag*rov ir/ — it is not Jit or com- 
mendable, that we should neglect the business of 
feeding souls with the bread of life, to attend the 
business of relieving the bodies of the poor. Note, 
Preaching the gospel is the best work, and the most 
proper and needful that a minister can be employed 
m, and that which he must giue himself wholly to, 
(1 Tim. 4. 15.) which that he may do, he must not 
entangle himself in the affairs of this life, (2 Tim. 2. 
4.) no, not in the outward business of the house of 
God, Neh. 11. 16. 

(2.) They therefore desire that seven men might 
be chosen, well qualified for the purpose, whose 
business it should be to serve tables, ituKoyuv Tja^s- 
(J'ijc — to be deacons to the tables, v. 2. The busi- 
ness must be minded, must be better minded than 
it had been, and than the apostles could mind it ; and 
therefore proper persons must be chosen, who, 
though they might be occasionally employed in the 
word, and prayer, were not so devoted entirely to 
it as the apostles were ; and these must take care of 
the church's stock, must review, and pay, and keep 
accounts; must buy those things which they had 
need of against the feast, (John 13. 29.) and attend 
to all those things which are necessary, in ordine ad 
spiritualia — in order to spiritual exercises, that every 
thing might be done decently and in order, and no 
person or thing neglected. Now, 

[1.] The persons must be duly qualified. The 
people are to choose, and the apostles to ordain ; but 
the people have no authority to choose, nor the 
apostles to ordain men utterly unfit for the office ; 
Look out seven men; so many they thought might 
suffice for the present, more might be added after- 
ward if there were occasion ; these must be. First, 
Of honest report, men free from scandal, that were 
looked u])on by their neighbours as men of integrity 
and faithful men, well attested, as men that might 
be trusted ; not under a blemish for any vice, but, 
on the contrary, well spoken of for eveiy thing that 
is virtuous and praiseworthy ; /uai^lvpii/uivii; — ?nen that 
can produce good testimonials concerning their con- 



versation. Note, Those that are employed in any 
office in the church, ought to be men of honest re- 
port ; of a blameless, nay, of a beautiful character, 
which is requisite not only to the credit of their 
office, but to the due discharge of it. Secondly, 
They mustbe/z/// of the Holy Ghost, must be tilled 
with those gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, ^yhich 
were necessary to the right management of this 
ti-ust ; they must not only be honest men, but they 
must be men of parts and men of courage ; such as 
were to be made judges in Israel, (Exod. 18. 21.) 
able men, fearing God; men of truth, and hating 
covetou&ness; and hereby appearing to be //<// of the 
Holy Ghost. Thirdly, They must l)e full of wis- 
dom. It was not enough that they were honest, 
good men, but they must be discreet, judicious men, 
that could not be imposed upon, and would order 
things for the best, and' with consideration : full of 
the Holy Ghost, and wisdom, that is, of the Holy 
Ghost as a Spirit of wisdom. We find the word of 
wisdom given by the Spij-it, as distinct from the word 
of knowledge by the saine Spirit, 1 Cor. 12. 8. They 
must be full of wisdom, who are entitisted with 
public money, that it may be disposed of, not only 
with fidelity, but with frugality. 

i2.] The people must nominate the persons; 
.ook ye out among you seven mm, consider 
among yourselves who are the fittest for such a trust, 
and whom you can with the most satisfaction con- 
fide in." They might be presumed to know better, 
or at least were fitter to inquire, what character 
men had, than the apostles ; and therefore they are 
entrusted with the choice. 

[3.] The apostles will ordain them to the ser\ ice, 
will give them their charge, that they may know 
what they have to do, and make conscience of doing 
it ; and give them their authority, that the i)ersons 
concerned may know whom they are to ajiply to, 
and submit to,'in affairs of that nature ; men, whom 
we may appoint. In many editions of our English 
Bibles, there has been an error of the press here, 
for they have read it, whom ye may appoint; as if 
the power were in the people ; whereas it was cer- 
tainly in the apostles ; whom we may appoint over 
this business; to take care of it, and to see that there 
be neither waste nor want. 

(3.) The apostles engage to addict themselves 
wholly to their work as ministers, and the more 
closely, if they can but get fairly quit of this trouble- 
some 'office; \v. 4.) We will gin'e ourselves con- 
tinually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. 
See here, [1.] What are the two great gospel-or- 
dinances— ^Ae word, and prayer; by these two com- 
munion between God and his people is kept up and 
maintained ; by the word he speaks to them, and by 
prayer they speak to him ; and these have a mutual 
reference to each other. By these two the king- 
dom of Christ must be advanced, and additions made 
to it ; we must prophesy vpon the dry bones, and 
then pray for a spirit of life horn God to enter into 
them. Bv the word ^nd prarjer other ordinances 
are sanctified to us, and sacraments have their effi- 
cacy. [2.] What is the great business of gospel- 
ministers ; to give themselves continually to prayer, 
and to the ministry of the word; they must still be 
either fitting and furnishing themselves for those 
services, or emploving themselves in them ; either 
publicly or privatelv ; in the stated times, or out of 
them. Thev must be God's mouth to the peo])lein 
the jninistry of the word, and the people's mouth to 
God in prayer. In order to the corivicfion and con 
version of sinners, and the edification and consolatioh 
of saints, we must not only ojff'cr u/i our prayers for 
them, but we must minister the word to them, se 
conding our prayers with our endeavours, in the use 
of appointed means ; nor must we only minister the 
word to them, but we must Jirayfor them, that it 



GO 



THE ACTS, VI. 



may be effectual ; for God's grace can do all without 
our ijieuchiiig, bat our preaching can do nothing 
witiiout God's grace. Ihe apostles ".vera endued 
with extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghont, tongues 
and miracles ; and yet that which they gave them- 
selves continually to, was, preaching and praying, 
by which they might edify the church : and those 
ministers, without doubt, are the successors of the 
apostles, (not in the plenitude of the apostolical 
power, those are daring usuqjers who pretend to 
iliat, but in the best and most excellent of the 
apostolical works,) who_§-n'f themselves continually 
to prayer, and to the ministry oj the vjord ; and such 
Christ will always be with, even to the end of the 

IV or Id. 

2. How this proposal was agreed to, and presently 
put in execution, by the disciples ; it was not im- 
jKJsed ujjon them by an absolute power, though they 
might have been bold in Christ to do that, (Philem'. 
8. ) but proposed, as that which was highly conve- 
nient, and then the saying pleased the ivhole multi- 
tude, V. 5. It pleased them to see the apostles so 
willing to discharge themselves from intermeddling 
m secular affairs, and so to transmit them to others; 
it pleased them to hear that they would give them- 
selves to the word and prayer ; and therefore they 
neither disjiuted the matter, nor deferred the exe- 
cution of it. 

(1.) 'I'hey pitched upon the persons; it is not 
probable that they all cast their eye upon the same 
men ; every one had his friend, whom he thought 
well of; but the majority of votes fell upon the per- 
sons here named ; and tlie rest both of the candidates 
and electors acquiesced, and made no disturbance, 
as the members of societies in such cases ought to 
do. An apostle, who was an extraordinary officer, 

V as chosen by lot, which is more immediately the 
act of God ; but the overseers of the poor were 
chosen by the suffrage of the people; in which 
yet a regai-d is to be had to the providence of God, 
who has all men's hearts and tongues in his 
hand. 

\Ve have a list of the persons chosen ; some think, 
that they were such as were before of the seventy 
disci/iles; but that is not likely; for they were or- 
dained by Christ himself, long since, to preach the 
gospel ; and there was no more reason that they 
should leave the word of God to sen<e tables than 
that tlie apostles should ; it is therefore more proba- 
ble that they were of those that were converted 
suice the pouring out of the Spirit ; for it was pro- 
mised to all that would be baptized, that they should 
receive the gift of the Holy Ghost ; and the 'gift, ac- 
cording to that promise, is that fulness of the Holy 
Ghost, which was required in those that'were to be 
chosen to this service. We may further conjecture, 
concerning these seven, [1.] That they were such 
as had sold their estates, and brought the money 
into the common stock ; for, ceteris paribus — other 
things being equal, those were fittest to be entrusted 
with the disti-ibution of it, who had been most gener- 
ous in the contribution to it. [2.] 77iat these seven 
were all of the Grecian or Hellenist Jews, for they 
have all Greek names, and this would he most likely 
to silence the murmurings of the Grecians, (wliich 
occasioned this institution,) to have the trust lodged 
in tliose tliat were foreigners, like themselves, who 
would be sui-e not to neglect them. A'icolas, it is 
plain, was one of them, for he was a proselyte of 
jintioch ; and some think that the manner of ex- 
pression intimates, that thry were all proselytes of 
Jerwiulcm, as he was of Antioch. 

The first named is Stefihen, the gloi-y of these 
iefitem-viri ; a man full of faith and of the Holy 
(ihost ; he had a strong /?//'/; in the doctrine of 
ChiMst, and was///// cf it above most ; fulloffideliti/, 
full of courage ; (so some;) for he was full of the 



Holy Ghost, of his gifts and graces; he was an ex- 
traordinary man, and excelled in every thing that, 
was good ; his name signifies a crown. Philip is 
put next, because he, having used this office of a dea- 
con well, thereby obtained a good degree, and. was 
afterward ordained to the office of an cx'angelist, a 
companion and assistant to the apostles, for so he is 
expressly called, ch. 21. 8. Compare Eph. 4. 11. 
And his preaching and baptizing (which we read of 
ch. 8. 12.) were ceitainly not as a deacon, (for it is 
plain that that office was serving tables, in opposi- 
tion to the ministry of the word, J but as an evange- 
list ; and when he was preferred to that office, we 
have reason to think he quitted this office, as incom- 
patible with that. As for Stephen, nothing we find 
done by him proves him to be a preacher of the gos- 
pel ; for he only disputes in the schools, and pleads 
for his life at the bar, t'. 9. and ch. 7. 2. 

The last named is jYicolas, who, some say, after- 
ward degenerated, (as the Judas among these seven,) 
and was the founder of the sect of the A'icolaitans, 
which we read of, (Rev. 2. 6, 15.) and which Christ 
there says, once and again, was a thing he hated. 
But some of the ancients clear him from that charge, 
and tell us, that though that vile impure sect de- 
nominated themselves from him, yet it w as unjustly, 
and because he only insisted much upon it, that they 
that had wix'es, should be as though they had none, 
thence they wickedly inferred, that they that had 
wives, should have them in common; which there- 
fore Tertullian, when he speaks of the community 
of goods, particularly excepts. Omnia indiscreta 
apud nos, prseter uxores — All things are common 
among us, except ourwirves. Apol. cap. 39. 

(2.) The apostles appointed-them to this work of 
serving tables for the present, v. 6. The people 
presented them to the apostles, who approved their 
choice, and ordained them. [1.] They prayed with 
them, and for them, that (iod would give them more 
and more of the Holy Ghost, and of wisdom; that 
he would qualify them for the service to which they 
were called, and own them in it, and make them 
thereby a blessing to the church, and particularly to 
the poor of the flock: All that are employed in the 
service of the church, ought to be committed to the 
conduct of the divine grace by the prayers of the 
church. [2.] They laid their hands on them, that 
is, they blessed them in the naine of the Lord, for 
laying on hands was used in blessing ; so Jacob bless- 
ed both the sons of Joseph ; and, without controversy, 
the less is blessed of the greater; (Hcb. 7. 7.) the 
deacons are blessed bv tlie apostles, and the over- 
seers of the poor by the jjastors of the congregation. 
Having by prayer imploi-ed a blessing upon them, 
they did by the laying on of hands assure them that 
the blessing was conferred in answer to the ])rayer ; 
and this was giving them authority to execute that 
office, and laying an obligation upon the people to 
be observant of them therein. 

III. The advancement of the church hereupon ; 
when things were thus ])ut into good order in the 
cluu'ch, (grievances wci'e redressed and discontents 
silenced,) then religion got ground, v. 7. 

1. The word of God inci-eased ; now that the 
apostles resolved to .stick more closely than ever to 
their preaching, it s])read the gospel further, and 
brouirht it home with the more ])ower. Ministers, 
disentangling themselves from secular employments, 
and addicting themselves entirely and vigorously to 
their work, will contribute very much, as a means, 
to the success of tlie gosi)el. The nvord of God is 
said to increase, as the seed sown increases, when it 
comes u]i again thirty, sixty, a htmdred fold. 

2. Chri.stians grow numerous ; The Jiumber of the 
disciples multifilied in .// rusalem greallu. \Vhcn 
Chi-ist was upon earth, his ministry li;id least sue 
cess in JeJ'usaleni ; yet now that city affords mcsl 



THL ACTS, VI. 



61 



converts. God has his remnant even in the worst 
of places. 

3. A great comfiany of the priests were obedient to 
the faith. Then is the word and grace of God great- 
ly magnified, when those are wrought upon by it, 
that were least likely, as the priests here, who 
either had opposed it, or at least were linked in 
with those that had. The priests, whose prefer- 
ments arose from the law of Moses, were yet wil- 
ling to let them go for the gospel of Christ ; and, it 
should seem, they came in in a body ; many of 
them agreed together, for the keeping up of one 
another's credit, and tlie strengthening of one ano- 
ther's hands, to join at once in giving up their names 
to Christ : tt'.kvc Ix'^"^ — " girat crowd of priests 
were by the grace of God helped over their preju- 
dices, and were obedient to the faith, so their con- 
version is described. (1.) They embraced the doc- 
trine of the gospel ; their understandings were cap- 
tivated to the power of the truths of Christ, and 
every opposing, objecting thought, brought into obe- 
dience to mm, 2 Cor. 10. 4, 5. The gospel is said to 
be made known for the obedience of faith, Rom. 16. 
26. Faith is an act of obedience, for tliis is God's 
commandment, that we believe, 1 John 3. 23. (2.) 
They evidenced the sincerity of their believing the 
gospel of Christ by a cheerful compliance with all 
the loiles and precepts of the gospel. The design 
of the gospel is to refine and reform our hearts and 
lives ; faith gives law to us, and we must be obedi- 
ent to it. 

8. And Stephen, full of faith and power, 
did great wonders and miracles among the 
people. 9. Then there arose certain of the 
synagogue, which is called the synagogue 
of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and 
Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and 
of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10. And 
they were not able to resist the wisdom 
and the spirit by which he spake. 1 1 . 
Then they suborned men, which said, We 
have heard him speak blasphemous words 
against Moses, and against God. 12. And 
they stirred up the people, and the elders, 
and the Scribes, and came upon /»'/«, and 
caught him, and brought him to the coun- 
cil, 1 3. And set up false witnesses, which 
said, This man ceaseth not to speak blas- 
phemous words against this holy place, and 
the law : 1 4. For we have heard him say, 
that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy 
this place, and shall change the customs 
which Moses delivered us. 15. And all 
that sat in the council, looking stedfastly 
on him, saw his face as it had been the face 
of an angel. 

Stephen, no doubt, was diligent and faithful in the 
discharge of his office as distributor of the church's 
charity, and laid out himself to put that affair in a 
good method, and did it to universal satisfaction ; 
and though it appears here that he was a man of un- 
common gifts, and fitted for a higher station, yet, 
being called to that office, he did liot think it below 
him to do the duty of it. And being faithful in a 
little, he was intinisted with more ; and though we 
do not find him propagating the gospel by preaching 
and baptizing, yet we find him' here called out to 
v-ery honourable services, and owned in them. 



I. He firoved the tiiith of the gospel, by working 
miracles in Christ's name, v. 8. 

1. He was full of faith and power, that is, of a 
strong faith, by which he was enabled to do great 
things. They that are full of faith, are full of pow 
er, because by faith the power of God is engager! 
for us. His faith did so fill him, that it left no room 
for unbelief, and made room for the influences ( f 
divine grace, so that, as the prophet speaks, he was 
full of power by the Spirit of the I.ord of hosts, Mic. 
3. 8. By faith we are emptied of self, and so are 
filled with Clirist, who is the wisdoin of God, and 
the power of God. 

2. Being so, he did great wonders and miracles 
among the people, openly, and in the sight of all ; 
for Christ's miracles fe-Jired not the strictest scruti- 
ny. It is not strange that Stephen, though he was 
not a preacher by office", did these great wonders, 
for we find that these were distinct gifts of the 
Spirit, and divided severally, for to one was give7i 
the working of miracles, and to another prophecy, 
1 Cor. 12. 10, 11. And those signs followed not on\y 
them that preached, but them that believed, Mark 
16. 17. 

n. He pleaded the cause of Christianity against 
those that opposed it, and argued against it ; {v. 9, 
10.) he served the interests of religion as a dispu- 
tant, in the high places of the field, while others 
were serving them as vinedressers and husband- 
men. 

1. We are here told who were his opponents, f. 
9. They were Jews, but Hellenist Jews, Jews of 
the dispersion, who seem to have been more zeahuis 
for their religion than the native Jews ; it was with 
difficulty that they retained the practice and ])rofes- 
sion of it in the country where they lived, where 
they were as speckled birds, and not without p;reat 
expense and toil that they kept up their attendance 
at Jerusalem, and this made them more active 
sticklers for Judaism than they were, whose pro- 
fession of their religion was cheap and easy. They 
were of the .synagogue which is called the syna- 
gogue of the Libertines ; the Romans called those 
Liberti or Libertini, who, either being; foreigners, 
were naturalized, or, being slaves by birth, were 
manumised, or made freemen. Some think that 
these Libertines were such of the Jews as had ob- 
tained the Roman freedom, as Paul had ; {ch. 22. 
27, 28.) and it is probable that he was the most for- 
ward man of this synagogue of the Libertines in dis- 
puting with Stephen, and engaged others in the dis- 
pute ; for we find him busy in the stoning of Ste- 
phen, and consenting to his death. Tliere were 
others that belonged to the synagogue of the Cyre- 
nians and Alexandrians, of which synagogue the 
Jewish writers speak ; and others that belonged to 
their synagogue, who were of Cilicia and Asia ; and 
if Paul, as a freeman of Rome, did not belonir to the 
synagogue of the Libertines, he belonged to this, as 
a native of Tarsus, a city of Cilicia ; it is probable 
that he might be a member of both. The Jews that 
were born in other countries, and had concerns in 
them, had frequent occasion, not only to resort to, 
but to reside in, Jerusalem. Each nation had its 
s^Tiagogue, as in London there are French, and 
Dutch, and Danish churches : and those synagogues 
were the schools to which the Jews of those nations 
sent their youth to be educated in the Jewish learn- 
ing. Now those that were tutors and professors in 
these svnagogues, seeing the gospel grow, and the 
jiilers conniving at the growth of it, and fearing 
what would be the consequence of it to the Jewish 
religion, which they were jealous for, beinp; confi- 
dent of the goodness of their cause, and their own 
sufficiencv to manage it, would undei-take to run 
down Christianity by force of argnn'cnt ; it wp>; a 
fair and rational way. of dealing with it, and wlial 



62 



THE ACTS, VI. 



relieion is always ready to admit; Produce your \\ 
cause, saith the Lord, bring forth your strong rea- 
sons, Isa. 41. 21. But why did they dispute with 
Stephen ? And why not with the apostles them- 
selves.'' (1.) Some think, because they despised the 
apostles as unlearned and ignorant men, whom they 
thouglit it below them to engage witli ; but Stephen 
was bred a scholar, and they thought it their honour 
to meddle with their match. (2.) Others think, it 
was because they stood in awe of the apostles, and 
could not be so free and familiar with them, as they 
could be with Stephen, who was in an inferior of- 
fice. (3. ) Perhaps they having given a public chal- 
lenge, Stephen was chosen and appointed by the 
disciples to be their cliampion ; for it ivas not meet 
that the apostles should leave the ])reaching of the 
ivord of God, to engage in controversy. Stephen, 
who was only a deacon in the church, and a very 
sharp young man, and of bright parts, and better 
qualified to deal with wrangling disputants than the 
apostles themselves, is appointed to this service. 
Some historians sav, that Stephen had been bred up 
at the feet of Gamaliel, and that Saul and the rest 
of them set upon him as a desej'ter, and with a par- 
ticular fury made him their mark. (4.) It is proba- 
ble that they disputed with Stephen, because he was 
zealous to argue with them, and convince them. And 
this was the service which God had called him to. 

2. We are here told how he carried the point in 
this dispute ; {v. 10.) They were not able to resist 
the nvisdom and the S/iirit by which he spake. They 
could not either support their own arguments, or 
answer his. He proved by such irresistible argu- 
ments, that Jesus is the Christ, and delivered him- 
self with so much clearness and fulness, that they had 
nothing to object against what he said ; though they 
were not convinced, yet they were confounded. It 
is not said, They were not able to resist him, but. 
They were not able to resist the ivMom and the 
Spirit by which he spake, that Spirit of wisdom 
which spake ])y him. Now was fulfilled that pro- 
mise, Iwillgrx<e you a mouth and tvisdom. which all 
your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or re- 
sist, Luke 21. 15. Thev thought they only dis- 
])uted witli Stephen, and' could make their part 
ffood with him j but they were disputing with the 
Spirit of God in him, for whom they were an un- 
equal match. 

III. At length, he sealed it with his blood; so we 
shall find he did in the next chapter, here we have 
some steps taken by his enemies towards it. When 
they could not answer his arguments as a disputant, 
they prosecuted him as a criminal, and suborned 
witnesses against iiim, to swear blasphemy upon 
him. " On such terms (saith Mr. Baxter here) do 
we dis])utc with malignant men. And it is next to 
a nriiracle of providence, that no greater number of 
religious ]K-rsins have been murdered in the world, 
by the way of peijnry and pretence of law, when so 
many thousands hate them, who make no conscience 
of false oaths." Thev subomed men, instracted 
them what to say, and then hired them to swear it. 
They were the more enraged against him, because 
be \y\(\ proved them to be in the wrong, and shewed 
them the right wav ; for which thev ought to have 
given him their lic-st thanks; was he therefore be- 
come th^ir eiiemii, because he told them the truth, 
and p'-ovcd it to be so ? Now let \is observe here, 

1. How with all possible art and industry thev in- 
censed both the government and the mob against 
him, that, if they could not prevail by the onej thev 
might b\' the other ; {v. 12. ) Theu stirred ufi the peo- 
ple aeainst him, that, if the Sanhedrim should still 
think fit (iiccordinu; to Gamaliel's advice) to let him 
alone, vet thev mii::ht nin him down by a popular 
T-acce and tumult ; they also find means tri stir uj) the 
^Idcrs and the scribes against him. that, if the peo- 



ple should countenance and protect him, they might 
prevail by authority. Thus they doubted not but to 
gain their point, when they had two strings to their 
bow. 

2. How they got him to the bar ; They came upon 
him, when he little thought of it, arid caught him, 
and brought him to the council. They came upnn 
him in a body, and flew upon him as a lion on his 
prey ; so the word signifies. B\ their rude and vio- 
lent treatment of him, they would represent him, 
both to the people and to the government, as a dan- 
gerous man, that would either flee from justice if he 
were not watched, or fight with it if he were not 
put under a fierce. Having caught him, they brought 
him triumphantly into the council, and, as it should 
seem, so hastily, that he had none of his friends 
with him. They had found, when they brought 
many together, that they emboldened one another, 
and strengthened one another's hands : and there- 
fore they will try how to deal with tliem singly. 

3. How they were prepared with evidence ready 
to produce against him ; they were resolved that 
they would not be nm aground, as they were when 
they brought our Saviour upon his trial, and then 
were to seek for witnesses. These were got ready 
beforehand, and were instructed to make oath, that 
they had heard hi?n speak blasphemous words 
against Moses, and against God, (t'. 11.) against 
tliis holy place and the law ; {xk 13.) for they heard 
him say, what Jesus would do to their place and 
their customs, V. 14. It is probable that he had 
said something to that pui-port ; and yet they who 
swore it against him are called false witnesses, be- 
cause, though there was something of truth in their 
testimony, yet they put a wrong and malicious con- 
struction upon what he had said, and perverted it 
Observe, 

(1.) What was the general charge exhibited 
against him — that he spake blasphemous words; 
and, to aggravate the matter, " He ceases not to 
speak bla.sphemous words ; it is his common talk, 
his discourse in all companies ; wheresoever he 
comes, he makes it his business to instil his notions 
into all he converses with." It intimates likewise 
something of contumacy and contempt of admoni- 
tion. ''He has been warned against it, and yet 
ceases not to talk at this rate. " Blasphemy is justly 
reckoned a heinous crime, (to speak contemptibly 
and reproachfully of God our Maker,) and therefore 
Stephen's persecutors would be thought to h^ve a 
deep concern upon them for the honour of God's 
name, and to do this in a jealousy for that. As it 
was with the confessors and martyrs of the Old 
Testament, so it was with those of the New — their 
brethren that hated them, and cast them out, said, 
Let the Lord be glorified ; and pretended they did 
him service in it. 

He is said to have spoken blasphemous words 
against Moses and against God. Thus far they 
were right, that thev who blaspheme Moses, (if 
thev mean the writings of Moses, which were given 
bv inspiration of God,) blaspheme God himself. 
They that speak reproachfully of the scriptures, 
and ridicvile them, reflect upon God himself, and do 
despite to him. His great intention is to magnify 
the law, and make it honourable ; those therefore 
that vilifv the law, and make it contemptible, blar- 
pheme his name ; for he has magnified his word 
above all his name. 

But did Ste])hen blaspheme Moses? By no means, 
he was far from it. Christ, and the preachers of 
his gospel, never said anv thing that looked like 
blaspheming Moses ; thev alwavs quoted his writ- 
ini^s with respect, ar>pcalod to them, and soi I vo 
other things than what Moses snid should c >"T" ; 
very unjustly therefore is Stephen indicted for l-.'as- 
pheming Moses, Rut, 



THE ACTS, VU. 



63 



(2.) Let us see how this charge is supported and 
made out ; why, truly, when the thing was to be 

S)roved, all they can charge him with, is, that he 
\ath sfioken b/us/i/iemous words against the holy 
filace aTid the laiv ; and this must be deemed and 
taken as blasphemy against Moses and against God 
himself. Thus does the charge dwindle wlien it 
comes to the evidence. [1.] He is charged with 
blaspheming this holy place. Some understand that 
of the city of Jerusalem, which was the holy city, 
and which they had a mighty jealousy for. But it is 
rather meant of the temple, that holy house. Christ 
was condemned as a blasphemer, for words which 
were thought to reflect upon the temple, which they 
seemed concerned for the honour of, then when they 
by their wickedness had profaned it. [2.] He is 
charged with blaspheming the law ; of which they 
made their boast, and in which they put their trust, 
then, when through breaking of the law they disho- 
noured God, Rom. 2. 23. 

Well, but how can they make this out ? Why 
here the charge dwindles again ; for all they can ac- 
cuse him of, is, that they had themselves heard him 
say (but how it came in, or what explication he gave 
of it, they think not themselves bound to give ac- 
count,) that this Jesus of A'azareth, who was so 
much talked of, shall destroy this filace, and change' 
the customs which Moses delivered us. He could 
not be charged with having said any thing to the 
disparagement either of the temple or of the law. 
The priests had themselves profaned the temple, by 
making it not only a house of merchandise, but a 
den of thiexies; yet they would be thought zealous 
for the honour of it, against one that had never said 
any thing amiss of it, but had attended it more as a 
house of fir ay er, according to the true intention of 
it, than they had. Nor had he ever reproached the 
law, as they had. 

But, First, He had said, Jesus of J^azareth shall 
destroy this filace ; destroy the temple, destroy Je- 
rusalem, it is probable that he might say so ; and 
what blasphemy is it against the holy place, to say, 
that it should not be ])erpetual any more than Shiloh 
was, and that the just and holy God would not con- 
tinue the privileges of his sanctuary to those that 
abuse them ? Had not the prophets given the same 
warning to their fathers, of the desti-uction of that 
holy place by the Chaldeans ? Nay, when the tem- 
ple was first built, had not God himself given the 
same warning ; This house, which is high, shall be an 
astonishment, 2 Chron. 7. 21. And is he a blasphe- 
mer then, who tells them that Jesus of Nazareth, if 
they continue their opposition to him, will bring a 
just destruction upon their place and nation, and 
they may thank themselves ? Those wickedly abuse 
their profession of religion, who, under colour of 
that, call the reproofs given them for their disagree- 
able conversations, blasphemous reflections upon 
their religion. 

Secondly, He had said, This Jesus shall change 
the customs which Aloses delivered us. And it was 
expected that in the days of the Messiah they 
should be changed, and that the shadows should be 
done away when the substance was come ; yet this 
was no essential change of the law, but the perfect- 
ing of it ; Christ came, not to destroy, but to fulfil, 
the law ; and if he changed some customs that Mo- 
ses delivered, it was to introduce and establish those 
that were much better ; and if the Jewish church 
had not obstinately refused to come into this new es- 
tablishment, and adhered to the ceremonial law, for 
aught I know, their filace had not been destroyed ; 
so that for putting them into a certain way to pre- 
vent their destruction, and for giving them certain 
notice of their destruction if they did not take that 
way, he is accused as a blasphemer. 
Lastly, We are here told hoAV God owned him 



when he was brought before the council, and made 
it to ap])ear that he stood by him ; {v. 15. ) All that 
sat in the council, the priests, scribes, and elders, 
looking stedfastly on him, being a stranger, and one 
tliey had not yet had before them, they saw hisfaceaa 
if it had been the face of an angel. It isusual forjudges 
to observe the c(.untenance ( f the prisoner, which 
sometimes is an indication either of guilt or inno- 
cence. Now Stephen appeared at the^bar with the 
countenance as of an angel. 

1. Perhaps it intimates no more than that he had 
an extraordinarily pleasant, cheerful countenance, 
and there was not in it the least sign either of fear 
for himself or ani;er at his persecutors; he looked 
as if he had never been better pleased in his life 
than he was now when- he was called out to bear his 
testimony to the gospel of Christ thus publicly, and 
stood fair for the crown of martyrdom. Such an 
undisturbed serenity, such an undaunted courage, 
and such an unaccountable mixture of mildness and 
majesty, there was in his countenance, that eveiy 
one said, he looked like an angel ; enough surely to 
convince the Sadducees that there are angels, when 
they saw before their eyes an incarnate angel. 

2. It should rather seem that there was a miracu- 
lous splendour and brightness upon his countenance, 
like that of our Saviour, when he was transfigured ; 
or, at least, that of Moses, when he came down 
from the mount ; God designing thereby to put 
honour upon his faithful witness, and confusion upon 
his persecutors and judges, whose sin would be high- 
ly aggravated, and would be indeed a rebellion 
against the light, if, notwithstanding this, they pro- 
ceeded against him. Whether he himself wist that 
the skin of his face shone or no, we are not told; 
but all that sat in the council saw it, and, probably, 
took notice of it to one another, and an ari-ant shame 
it was, that, when they saw, and could not but see 
by it that he was owned of God, they did not call 
him from standing at the bar to sit in the chief seat 
upon the bench. Wisdom and holiness make a 
man's face to shine, and yet these will not secure 
men from the greatest indignities ; and no wonder, 
when the shining of Stephen's face would not l)e his 
protection ; though it had been easy to prove that if 
he had been guilty of putting any dishonour upon 
Moses, God would not thus have put Moses's honour 
upon him 

CHAP. VII. 

When our Lord Jesus called his apostles out i-o be employed 
in services and sufferings for hiin, he told them, that yet 
the last shall be first, and the first last ; which was remark- 
ably fulfilled in St. Stephen and St. Paul, who were both 
of them late converts, in comparison of the apostles, and 
yet iTot the start of them, both in services and sufferings ; 
for God, in conferring honours and favours, often crosses 
hands. In this chapter, we have the martyrdom of Ste- 
phen, the first martyr of the Christian church, who led the 
van in that noble army. And therefore his sufferings and 
death are more largely related than of any other, for direc- 
tion and encouragement to all those who are called out to 
resist unto blood, as he did. Here is, I. His defence of 
himself before the council, in answer lo the matters and 
things he stood charged with, the scope of which is to shew 
that it was no blasphemy against God, nor any injury at 
all to the glory of his name, to say, that the temple should 
be destroyed, and the customs of the ceremonial law 
changed. And, 1. He shews this by gninsr over the history of 
the Old Testament, and obfcrvinsr, that God never intended 
to confine his favours to that place, or that ceremonial law ; 
and that they iiad no reason to expect he s' lould ; for the 
people of the .lews had always been o pravoking people, 
and had forfeited the privileges of their peculiarity : nay, 
that that holy place and that law were but figures of pood 
things to come, and it was no disparagement at all to them 
to say that thev must give place to better thing-s, v. 1 . . 50. 
And then, 2. He applies this to tiiem that pro.'^ecuted him, 
and sat in judgment upon him, sharplv reproving them to/ 
their wickedness by which they had brought upon then> 
selves the ruin of their place and nation, and then could not 



\ 



64 



THE ACTS, VII. 



bear to hear of it, v. 51 . . 63. II. The putting of him to 

death by stoning of him, and iiis pa ient, cheerful, pious 
submission to it, v. 34 . . 60. 

1. ^THHEN said tlie High Priest, are tliese 
JL things so ? 2. And he said, Men, 
brethren, and fathers, hearken ; Tise God 
of glory appeared unto our father Abra- 
ham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before 
he dwelt in Charran, 3. And said unto 
him. Get thee out of thy country, and from 
thy kindred, and come into the land which 
I shall shew thee. 4. Then came he out 
of the land oi' the Chaldeans, and dwelt in 
Charran : and from thence, when his father 
was dead, he removed him into this land, 
wherein ye now dwell. 5. And he gave 
him none inheritance in it, no not so much 
as to set his foot on : yet he promised that 
he would give it to him for a possession, 
and to his seed after him, when as yet he 
had no child. 6. And God spake on this 
wise, that his seed should sojourn in a 
strange land ; and that they should bring 
them into bondage, and entreat thein evil 
four hundred years. 7. And the nation to 
whom they shall be in bondage will I 
judge, said God : and after that shall they 
come forth, and serve me in this place. 8. 
And he gave him the covenant of circum- 
cision : and so Ahraham begat Isaac, and 
circumcised him the eighth day ; and Isaac 
6eg"r/^ Jacob ; and Jacob begat the twelve 
patriarchs. 9. And the patriarchs, moved 
wdth envy, sold Joseph into Egypt : but God 
was with him, 10. And delivered him out 
of all his afflictions, and gave him favour 
and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king 
of Egypt; and he made him governor over 
Egypt and all his house. 1 1 . Now there 
came a dearth over all the land of Egypt 
and Canaan, and great affliction : and our 
fathers found no sustenance. 12. But when 
Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, 
he sent out our fathers first. 1 3. And at the 
second time Joseph was made known to 
his brethren; and Joseph's kindred was 
made known nnto Pharoah. 1 4. Then sent 
Joseph, and called his father Jacob to hun, 
and all his kindrefl, threescore and fifteen 
souls. I 5. So Jacob went down into Egypt, 
and died, he, and our fathers, 1 6. And were 
carried over into Sychem, and laid in the 
sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum 
of money of the sons of Emmor the father 
of Sychem. 

Stephen is now ^t the bar before the gi-eat council 
of the nation, indicted for blasphemy : what the 
witnesses swore ;'.;^ainst him we had an account of in 
the forei,-oini^ cliapter, that he spake blasphemous 
words as^ainst Mfises and God ; for he spake against 
this holy jilacc and the law. Now, here, 

T. Tlie High Priest calls upon him to answer for 



himself, x\ 1. He was president, and, as such, the 
mouth of the court, and therefore he saith, "You, 
the prisoner at the bar, you hear what is sworn 
against you ; what do you say to it } Are these things 
so y Have you ever spoken any words to this pur- 
port ? If you have, will you recant ^hem, or will you 
stand to them ? Guilty or not guilty?" This carried 
a shew of fairness, and yet seems to have been spo- 
ken with an air of haughtiness; and thus far he seems 
to have prejudiced the cause, that, if it were so, that 
he had spoken such and such words, he shall cer- 
tainly be adjudged a blas])henier, whatever he may 
offer in justification or explanation of them. 

II. He begins his defence, and it is long ; but it 
should seem l)y his breaking off abruptly, just when 
he came to the main point, (t'. 50.) that it would 
have been much longer, if his enemies would have 
given him leave to say all he had to say. In general 
we may observe, 

1. That in this discourse he appears to be a man 
ready and mighty in the scriptures, and thereby 
thoroughly furnished for every good word and work. 
He can relate scripture-stories, and such as were 
very pertinent to his purpose, off hand, without 
looking in his Bible. He was Jilled nvith the Holy 
Ghost, not so much to reveal to him new things, or 
open to him the secret counsels and decrees of God 
concerning the Jewish nation, with them to convict 
these gainsayers ; no, but to bring to his remem- 
brance the scriptures of the Old Testament, and to 
teach him how to make use of them for their con- 
viction. They that are full of the Holy Ghost, will 
be full of the scripture, as Stephen was. 

2. That he quotes the scriptures, according to the 
Septuagint translation, by which it appears that he 
was one of the Hellenist Jews, who used that ver- 
sion in their synagogues. His following that, occa- 
sions divers variations from the Heljrew original in 
this discourse, which the judges of the court did not 
correct, because they knew how he was led into 
them ; nor is it any derogation to the authority of 
that Spirit by which he spake, for the variations are 
not material. We have a maxim, Afiices juris non 
sunt jura — Mere fioints of lavj are not lanv itself. 

These verses carry on this his compendium of 
church-history to the end of the book of Genesis. 
Observe, 

(1.) His preface; Men, brethren, and fathers, 
hearken. He gives them, though not flattering titles, 
yet civil and respectful ones, signifying his expectation 
of fair treatment with them ; from men he hopes to 
be treated with humanity, and he hopes that bre- 
thren und fathers will use him in a fathei'ly brotherly 
way. They are ready to look upon him as an apos- 
tate from the Jewish church, and an enemv to them. 
But to make way for tlieir conviction .to the contra- 
ry, he addresses himself to them as 7nen, brethren, 
and fathers ; resohing to look on himself as one of 
them, though they would not so look on him. He 
craves their attention; Hearken; though he was 
about to tell them what they already knew, yet he 
begs them to hearken to it, because, tliough they 
knew it all, yet thev would not without a very close 
application of mind know how to apply it to the case 
before them. 

(2.) His entrance upon the discourse ; which (how- 
ever it may seem to those that read it carelessly) is 
far from being a long ramble only to amuse the 
hearers, and give them a diversion by telling them 
an old ston^ No ; it is all jjcrtinent and ad rem-~- 
to the purpose, to shew them that God had not his 
heart so much upon that holy place and the lavj as 
they had ; but, as he had a church in the world 
many ages before that holy jilace was founded, and 
the ceremonial law given, so he would have, when 
thev should both have had their period. 

ri.] He begins with the call c\ Ahraham owtoi 



THE ACTS, VII. 



65 



Ur of the Chaldees, by which he was set apart for 
God to be the trustee of the promise, and the father 
of the Old Testament church. This we had an ac- 
count of, (Gen. 12. 1, &c. ) and it is referred to, Neh. 
9. 7, 8. His native countiy was an idolatrous coun- 
try, it was Mesopotamia, {y. 2.) the land of the 
Chaldeans ; {v. 4.) thence God brought him at two 
removes, not too far at once, dealing tenderly with 
liim ; he first brought him out of the land of the 
Chaldeans to Chai-ran, or Haran, a place midway 
between that and Canaan, (Gen. 11. 31.) and from 
-thence, five years after, when his father was dead, 
he reinoved him into the land of Canaan, wherein ye 
now dwell. It should seem, the first time that God 
spake to Abraham, he appeared in some visible dis- 
play of the divine presence, as the God of glory, 
(t'. 3. ) to settle a corresfiondence with him : and 
then afterward he kept up that correspondence, and 
spake to him from time to time as there was occa- 
sion, without repeating his visible apfiearances as 
the God of glory. 

From this call of Abraham we may observe, First, 
That in all our ways we must acknowledge God, and 
attend the conduct of his providence, as of the pillar 
of cloud and fire. It is not said, Abraham removed, 
but, God removed him into this land wherein ye now 
dwell, and he did but follow his Leader. Secondly, 
Those whom God takes into covenant with himself, 
he distinguishes from the children of this world ; 
they are effectually called out of the state, out of 
the land, of their nativity ; they must sit loose to 
the world, and live above it, and every thing in it, 
even that in it which is most dear to them, and must 
trust God to make it up to them in another and bet- 
ter country, that is the heavenly, which he will 
shew them. God's chosen must follow him with an 
implicit faith and obedience. 

But let us see what this is to Stephen's case. 

1. They had charged him as a blasphemer of 
Ciod, and an apostate from the church ; therefore 
he shews that he is a son of Abraham, and values 
himself upon his being able to say. Our father Abra- 
ham, and that he is a faithful worshipper of the God 
of Abraham, whom therefore he here calls the God 
of glory. He also shews that he owns divine revela- 
tion, and that particularly by which the Jewish 
church was founded and incorporated. 

2. They were proud of their being circumcised ; 
and therefore he shews that Abraham was taken 
under God's conduct, and into communion with him, 
before he was circumcised, for that was not till v. 8. 
With this argument Paul pro\^ that Abraham was 
justified by faith, because he was justified when he 
was in uncircumcision : and so here, 

3. They had a mighty jealousy for this holy place : 
which may be meant of the whole land of Canaan ; 
for it was called the holy land, Immanuel's land ; 
and the destruction of the holy house, inferred that 
of the holy land. "Now," says Stephen, "you 
need not be so proud of it; for," (1.) "You came 
originally out of Ur of the Chaldees, where your fa- 
thers served other gods, (Josh. 24. 2.) and you were 
not the first planters of this country. Look therefore 
unto he rock whence ye were hew?i, and the hole of 
the pit out of ivhich ye wei-e digged; (that is, as it 
follows there ;) "look %nito Abraham your father, 
for / called him alone ; (Isa. 51. 1, 2.) think of the 
meanness of your beginnings, and how you are en- 
tirely indebted to divine grace, and then you will see 
boasting to be for ever excluded. It was God that 
raised up. the righteous man from the east, and called 
him to hi^footf^IsA. 41. 2. But if his seed degenerate, 
let them know, God can destroy this holy place, and 
raise up to himself another people, for he is not a 
Debtor to them." (2.) God appeared in his glorv to 
Abraham a great way off in Mesojwtamia, before 
he came near Canaan, nav, before he dwelt in Char- 

Vol. VI.— I 



ran ; so that you must not think God's visits are to 
this land : no ; he that brought the seed of the 
church from a country so far east, can, if he pleases, 
carry the fruit of it to another country as far west." 
(3. ) " God made no haste to bring him into this land, 
but let him linger some years by the way : which 
shews that God has not his heart so much'upon this 
land as you have, neither is his honour, nor the hap- 
piness of his people, bound up in it. It is therefore 
neither blasphemy nor treason to say. It shall be de- 
stroyed. " 

[2.] The unsettled state o{ Abraham and his seed 
for many ages after he was called out of Ur of the 
Chaldees. God did indeed promise that he would 
give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after 
him, V. 5. But, First, As yet he had no child, nor 
any by Sarah for many years alter. Secondly, He 
himself was but a stranger and a sojourner iii that 
land, and God gave him no inheritance in it, no not 
so much as to set his foot oti ; but there he was as in 
a strange country, where he was always upon the 
remove, and could call nothing his own. Thirdly, 
His posterity did not come to the possession of it of 
a long time ; After four hundred years they shall 
come and sen>e me in this place, and not till then, 
V. 7. Nay, Fourthly, They must undergo a great 
deal of hardship and difficulty before they shall be 
put into the possession of that land ; they shall be 
brought into bondage, and ill treated in a strange 
land: and this, not as the punishment of any par- , 
ticular sin, as their wandering in the wilderness was, 
for we never find any such account given of their 
bondage in Eg}'pt ; but so God had appointed, and 
it must be. And at the end of four hundred years, 
reckoning from the birth of Isaac, that nation to 
whom they shall be in bondage, will I judge, said 
God. Now this teaches us, 1. That known unto 
God are all his works beforehand. \A'hen Abraham 
had neither inherita7ice nor heir, yet he was told he 
should have both, the one a layid of promise, and 
the other a child of promise ; and therefore both 
had, and received, by faith. 2. That God's pro- 
mises, though they are slow, are sure, in the opera- 
tion of them ; they will be fulfilled in the season of 
them, though perhaps not so soon as we expect. 
3. That though the people of God may be in distress 
and trouble for a time, yet God will at length both 
rescue them, and reckon with those that do oppress 
them : for, verily there is a God that judgeth in the 
earth. 

But let us see how this serves Stephen's purpose. 
(1.) The Jewish nation, which thev were so jea- 
lous for the honour of, was very inconsiderable in its 
beginnings ; as their common father Abraham was 
fetched out of obscurity in Ur of the Chaldees, so 
their tribes, and the heads of them, were fetched out 
of servitude in Egypt, when they were t\\t fewest of 
all people, Deut. 7. 7. And what need is there of 
so much ado, as if their ruin, when thev bring it 
upon themselves by sin, must be the ruin of the 
world, and of all God's interest in it ? No ; he that 
brought them out of Egypt, can bring them into it 
again, as he threatened, (Deut. 28. 68. ) and yet be 
no loser, while he can out of stones raise up children 
unto Abraham. 

(2.) The slow steps by which th« promise made 
to Abraham advanced toward the performance, and 
the many seeming contradictions here taken notice 
of, plainly shew that it had a spiritual meaning, and 
that the land principally intended to be con%'eyed 
and secured by it, was, the better country, that is, 
the heavenly : as the apostle shews from this very 
argument, that the patriarchs sojourned in the land 
of promise, as in a strange country ; thence infer- 
ring, that they looked for a city that had founda- 
tions, Heb. 11. 9, 10. It was therefore no blas- 
phemy to say, Jesus shall destroy this placCy whem 



G6 



THE ACTS, VII. 



at the same time we say, "He shall lead us to the 
heavenly Canaan, and put us in possession of that, 
of which the earthly Canaan was but a type and 
figure." 

[3.] The building up of the family of Abraham, 
with the entail of divine grace upon it, and the dis- 
posals of Divine Providence concerning it, which take 
up the book of Genesis. 

First, God engaged to be a God to Abraham and 
to his seed ; and, in token of that, appointed that he 
and his male seed should be circumcised. Gen. 17. 
9, 10. He gave him the covenant of circumcision, 
that covenant which circumcision was the seal of ; 
and accordingly, when Abraham had a son born, he 
circumcised him the eighth day, (v. 8.) by which he 
was both obliged by the divine law, and interested 
in the divine promise ; for circumcision had refer- 
ence to both, being a seal of the covenant both on 
God's pai-t, I will be to thee a God all-sufficient, 
and on man's part, Tfalk before me, and be thou 
perfect. And then when effectual care was thus 
taken for the securing of Abraham's seed, to be a 
seed to serve the Lord, they began to multi])ly ; Isaac 
begat Jacob, and Jacob the twelve fiatriarchs, or 
roots of the respective tribes. 

Secondly, Joseph, the darling and blessing of his 
father's house, was abused by his brethren, they 
envied him because of his dreams and sold him into 
jEgy/it ; thus early did the children of Israel begin 
to grudge those among them that were eminent and 
outshone others ; of which their enmity to Christ, 
who, like Joseph, was a JVazarite among his bre- 
thren, was a great instance. 

Thirdly, God owned Joseph in his troubles, and 
was with him, (Gen. 39. 2, 21.) by the influence of 
his Spirit, both on his mind, giving him comfort, 
and on the minds of those he was concerned with, 
giving him favour in their eyes. And thus at length 
he delivered him out of his afflictions, and Pharaoh 
made him the second man in the kingdom, Ps. 105. 
20 — 22. And thus he not only ai-rived at great pre- 
ferment among the Egyptians, but became the shep- 
herd and stone of Israel, Gen. 49. 24. 

Fourthly, Jacob was compelled to go down into 
Egypt, by a famine which forced him out of Canaan, 
a dearth, (which was a great affliction,) to that de- 
gree, that our fathers found no sustenance, in Ca- 
naan, V. 11. That fruitful land was turned into 
barrenness. But, hearing that there was com in 
Egypt, (treasured up by the wisdom of his own son,) 
he sent out our fathers first to fetch com, v. 12. 
And the second time that they went, Joseph, who at 
first made himself strange to them, made himself 
known to them ; and it was notified to Pharaoh that 
they were Joseph's kindred and had a dependence 
upon him ; {v. 13.) whereupon, with Pharaoh's 
leave, Joseph sent for his father Jacob to him into 
Egypt, with all his kindred and family, to the num- 
ber of seventy-five souls, to be subsisted there, v. 
14. In Genesis they are said, to be seventy souls. 
Gen. 46. 27. But the Septuagint there make them 
seventy-five, and Stephen or Luke follows that ver- 
sion, as Luke 3. 36. whei'c Cainan is inserted, that 
is not in the Hehretv text, but in the Septuagint. 
Some, by excluding Joseph and his sons, who were 
in Egypt before, which reduces the number to sixty- 
four, and adding the sons of the eleven patriarchs, 
make the number seventy-five. 

Fifthly, Jacob and his sons died in Egypt, (y. 16.) 
but were carried over to be buried in Canaan, xk 17. 
A very considerable difficulty occurs here : it is 
said, They were carried over into Sychem, whereas 
Jacob was buried not in Sychem, but near Hebron, 
in the cave of Machpelah, where Abraham and 
Isaac were buried, Gen. 50. 13. Joseph's bones in- 
deed were buried in Sychem ; (Josh. 24. 32. ) and it 
seems by this, (though it is not mentioned in the 



story,) that the bones of all the other patriarchs 
were carried with his, each of them giving the same 
commandment concerning them that he had done ; 
and of them this must be understood, not of Jacob 
himself. But then the sepulchre in Sychem was 
bought by Jacob, (Gen. 33. 19. ) and by that it is 
described, Josh. 24. 32. How then is it here said to 
be bought by Abraham ? Dr. Whitby's solution ot 
this is very sufficient. He supplies it thus ; Jacob 
went down into Egypt and died, he and our fathers ; 
and (our fathers) were carried over into Sychem ; 
and he, that is, Jacob, was laid iyi the sepulchre that 
Abraham bought for a sutn of money. Gen. 23. 
(Or, they were laid there, that is, Abraham, Isaac, 
and Jacob.) And they, namely, the other patriarchs, 
were buried in the sepulchre bought of the sons of 
Emnior, the father of Sychem. 
Let us now see what this is to Stephen's pui-pose. 

1. He still reminds them of the mean begmning 
of the Jewish nation, as a check to their priding 
themselves in the glories of that nation ; and that it 
was by a miracle of mercy, that they were raised 
up out of nothing to what they were, from so small 
a number to be so great a nation ; but if they answer 
not the intention of their being so raised, they can 
expect no other than to be destroyed. The prophets 
frequently put them in mind of the bringing of them 
out of Egypt, as an aggravation of their contempt 
of the law of God ; and here it is urged upon them 
as an aggravation of their contempt of the gospel of 
Christ." 

2. He reminds them likewise of the Avickedness of 
those that were the patriarchs of their tribes, in en- 
vying their brother Joseph, and selling him into 
Egypt ; and the same spirit was still working in them 
toward Christ and his ministers. 

3. Their holy land, which they doted so much 
upon, their fathers were long kept out of the pos- 
session of, and met with dearth and great affliction 
in it ; and therefore let them not think it strange, if, 
after it has been so long polluted with sin, it be at 
length destroyed. 

4. The faith of the patriarchs in desiring to be 
buried in the land of Canaan, plainly shewed that 
they had an eye to the heavenly country, which it 
was the design of this Jesus to lead them to. 

17. But when the time of the promise 
drew nigh, which God had sworn to Ahra- 
ham, the people grew and multipHed in 
Egypt, 1 8. Till another king arose, which 
knew not Joseph. 19. The same dealt 
subtly with our kindred, and evil entreated 
our fathers, so that they cast out their 
young children, to the end they might not 
live. 20. In which time Moses was born, 
and was exceeding fair, and nourished up 
in his father's house three months : 21 . And 
when he was cast out, Pharaoh's daughter 
took him up, and nourished him for her own 
son. 22. And Moses was learned in all 
the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was 
mighty in words and in deeds. 23. And 
when he was full forty years old, it came 
into his heart to visit his brethren the chil- 
dren of Israel. 24. And seeingone of them 
suffer wrong, he defended /»'?«, and avenged 
him that was oppressed, and smote the 
Egyptian : 25. For he supposed his breth- 
ren would have understood how that God 



THE ACTS, VJl. 



67 



by his hand would deliver them : but they 
understood not. 26. And the next day he 
shewed himself unto tliem as they strove, 
and would have set them at one again, 
saying. Sirs, ye-are brethren ; why do ye 
wrong one to another 1 27. But he that 
did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, 
saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge 
over us? 28. Wilt thou kill me, as thou 
didst the Egyptian yesterday 1 29. Then 
fled Moses at this saying, and was a stran- 
ger in the land of Midian, where he begat 
two sons. 

Stephen here goes on to relate, 

I. The wonderful increase of the people of Israel 
in Egypt ; it was by a wonder of providence, that 
in a little time they advanced from a family into a 
nation. 

1. It was nvhefi the time of the firomise drew nigh ; 
the time when they were to be formed into a people. 
During the first two hundred and fifteen years after 
the [promise made to Abraham, the children of the 
covenant were increased but to seventy ; but m the 
latter two hundred and fifteen years they increased 
to six hundred thousand fighting men ; the motion 
of providence is sometimes quickest, when it comes 
nearest the centre. Let us not be discouraged at the 
slowness of the proceedings toward the accomplish- 
ment of God's promises ; God knows how to redeem 
the time that seems to have been lost, and, nuhen the 
year of the redeemed is at hand, can do double .work 
in a single day. 

2. It was in Egyjit, where they were ofifiressed, 
and ruled with rigour ; when their lix<es were made 
so bitter to them, tliat, one would think, they should 
have wished to be written childless, yet they mar- 
ried, in faith that God in due time would visit them ; 
and God blessed them, who thus honoured him, say- 
ing. Be fruitful, and multijdy. Suffering times have 
often been growing times with the church. 

II. The extreme hardships which they underwent 
there, v. 18, 19. When the Egyptians observed 
them to increase in number, they increased their 
burthens ; in which Stephen observes three things : 

1. Tiieir base ingratitude. They were oppressed 
by another king that knew not Josefih, that is, did 
not consider the good service that Josefih had done 
to that nation ; for, if he had, he would not have 
made so ill a requital to his relations and family. 
Those that injure good people are very ungrateful, 
for they are the blessings of the age and place they 
live in. 

2. Their hellish craft and policy. They dealt 
subtly with our kindred. Come on, said they, let 
us deal wisely, thinking thereby to secure them- 
selves, but it proved dealing foolishly, for they did 
but treasure up. wrath by it. Those are in a great 
mistake, who think they deal suhtily {or themselves, 
when they deal deceitfully or unmercifully with 
their brethren. 

3. Their barbarous and inhuman cruelty. That 
they might effectually extirpate them, they cast out 
their young children, to the end they might not live. 
The killing of their infant-seed seemed a verj'^ likely 
wav to crush an infant-nation. 

Now Stephen seems to observe this tc them, not 
only that they might further see how mean their 
beginnings were, fitly represented (perhaps with an 
eye to the exfiosing of the youngchildren in Egypt) 
by the forlorn state of a hel/iless, out-cast infant, 
^Ezek. 15. 4.) and how much they were indebted to 
God for his care of them, which they had forfeited, 
and made themselves unworthy of* but also that 



they might consider that what they were now doing 
against the christian church in its infancy, was as 
impious and unjust, and would be in the issue as 
fruitless and ineffectual, as that was which the 
Egyptians did against the Jewish church in its in- 
fancy. *' You think you deal subtly in your evil 
entreating us, and in persecuting young converts, 
you do as they did in castingout the youngchildren ; 
but you will find it is to no pui-posc, in spite of your 
malice, Christ's disciples will increase arid multiply. 
III. The raising up of Moses to be their deliverer. 
Stephen was charged with having spoken blas/ihe 
mous words against Moses, in answer to which 
charge, he here speaks very honourably of him. 

1. Moses was born when the persecution of Israel 
was at the hottest, especially in that most cruel in- 
stance of it, the murdering of the new-born children ; 
At that time, Moses -was born, {v. 20.) and was him- 
self in danger, as soon as he came into the world, 
(as our Saviour also was at Bethlehem,) of falling a 
sacrifice to that bloody edict. God is preparing for 
his people's deliverance, then when their day is 
darkest, and their distress deepest. 

2. He was exceeding fair ; his face began to shine 
as soon as he was born, as a happy presage of the 
honour God designed to put upon him ; he was, i^^uot 
T? QtZ — fair toward God ; he was sanctified from 
the womb, and that made hiin beautiful in God's 
eyes ; for it is the beauty of holiness that is in God's 
sight of great firice. 

"'o. lie was wonderfully preserved in his infancy, 
first, by the care of his tender parents, who nourish- 
ed him three months in their own house, as long as 
they durst ; and then by a favourable providence 
that threw him into the arms of Pharaoh's daugh- 
ter, who took him up, and nourished him for her own 
son ; (v. 21.) for those whom God designs to make 
special use of, he will take special care of. And did 
he thus protect the. child Moses ? Much more will he 
secure the interests of his holy child Jesus (as he is 
called, ch. 4. 27.) from the enemies that are gathered 
together against him. 

4. He became a great scholar; (x^. 22.) He was 
learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, who were 
then famed for all manner of polite literature, par- 
ticularly philosophv, astronomy, and (which perhaps 
helped to lead them to idolatry) hieroglyphics. 
Moses, having his education at court, had opportu- 
nity of improving himself by the bfest books, tutors, 
and conversation, in all the arts and sciences, and 
had a genius for them. Only we have reason to 
think, that he had not so farforgotten the God of 
his fathers, as to acquaint himself with the unlawful 
studies and practices of the rnagicians of Egypt, 
any further than was necessary to the confuting of 
them. 

5, He became a prime minister of state in Egypt ; 
that seems to be meant by his being mighty in words 
end deeds. Though he had not a ready way of ex- 
pressing himself, but stammered, yet he spake ad- 
mirable good sense, and every thing he said com- 
manded assent, and carried its own evidence and 
force of reason along with it. And in business, 
none went on with such courage, and conduct, and 
success. Thus was he prepared, by human helps, 
for those services, which, after all, he could not be 
thoroughly furriished for without divine illumina- 
tion. Now," by all this, Stephen will make it ap- 
pear that notwithstanding the malicious insinuations 
of his persecutors, he had as high and honourable 
thoughts of Moses as they had. 

IV. The attempts which Moses made to deliver 
Israel, which thev spurned, and would not close in 
with. This Stephen insists much upon, and it serves 
for a key to this storv, (Exod. 2. 11—15.) as does 
also that other construction which is put upon it by 
J the apostle. Heb. 11. 24—26. There it is repre- 



68 



THE ACTS, VII. 



sented as an act of holy self-denial, here as a de- 
signed preludium to, or entrance upon, the public 
service he was to be called out to ; {v. 23.) W/ien he 
was full forty years old, in the prime of his time for 
preferment in'the court of Egypt, it ca?}ie into his 
heart (for God put it there) to visit his brethren _ the 
children of Israel, and to see which way he might 
do them any service ; and he shewed himself as a 
public person, with a public chai'acter : 

1. As Israel's saviour. This he gave a specimen 
of in avenging an oppressed Israelite, and killing 
the Egyptian that abused him ; {v. 24.) Seeing one 
of his brethren suffer wrong, he was moved with 
compassion toward the sufferer, and a just indigna- 
tion at the wrong-doer, as men in public stations 
should be, and he avenged him that was oppressed, 
and smote the Egyptian; which, if he had been 
only a private person, he could not lawfully have 
done ; but he knew that his commission from hea- 
ven would bear him out ; and he supposed that his 
brethren (who could not but have some knowledge 
of the promise made to Abraham, that the nation 
that should oppress them God would judge ) would 
have understood that God by his hatid would deli- 
ver them ; for he could not have had, either pre- 
sence of mind or strength of body, to do what he 
did, it he had not been clothed with such a divine 
power as evidenced a divine authority. If they had 
out understood the signs of the times, they might 
have taken this for the dawning of the day of their 
deliverance ; bjit they understood not, they did not 
take this, as it was designed, for the setting up of a 
standard, and sounding of a trumpet, to proclaim 
Moses their deliverer. 

2. As Israel's judge. This he gave a specimen 
of, the very yiext day, in offering to accommodate 
matters between two contending Hebi-ews, wherein 
he plainly assumed a public character; {v. 26.) He 
shelved hiinself to them as they strove, and, putting 
on an air of majesty and authority, he would have 
set them at one again, and as their prince have de- 
termined the controversy between them, sayijig. 
Sirs, ye are brethren, by birth and profession of re- 
ligion ; why do ye wrong one to another ? For he 
observed that (as in most strifes) there was a fault 
on both sides ; and therefore, in order to peace and 
friendship, there must be a mutual remission and 
condescension. When Moses was to be Israel's de- 
liverer out of Egypt, he slew the Egyptians, and so 
delivered Israel out of their hands; but when he 
was to be Israel's judge, and lawgiver, he ruled 
them with the golden sceptre, not the iron rod ; he 
did not kill and slay them when they strove, but 
gave them excellent laws and statutes, and deter- 
mined upon their complaints and appeals made to 
him, Exod. 18. 16. 

But the contending Israelite, that was most in the 
wrong, thrust him away, (f. 27.) would not bear 
the reproof, though a just and gentle one, but was 
ready to fly in his face, with, Who made thee a ruler 
and a judge over us? Proud and litigious spirits art 
impatient of check and control. Rather would these 
Israelites have their bodies ruled with rigour by their 
task-masters than be delivered, and have their minds 
ruled with reason, by their deliverer. The wrong- 
doer was so enraged at the reproof given him, that 
he upbraided Moses with the service he had done 
to their nation in killing the Egyptiari, which, if 
they had pleased, would have been the earnest of 
further and greater service ; Wilt thou kill me as 
thou didst the Egyfitian yesterday ? v. 28. Charging 
that upon him as his crime, and threatening to ac- 
cuse him for it, which was the hanging out of the 
flag of defiance to the Egyptians, and the banner of 
love and deliverance to Israel. Hereupon Mosei 
fled into the land of Midian, and made no more at- 
'^empt to delivei Israel till forty years after ; he set- 



tled as a stranger in Midian, married, and had two 
sons, by Jethro's daughter, v. 29. 

Now let us see how this serves Stephen's pur- 
pose, 

(1.) They charged him with blaspheming Moses, 
in answer to which h-: retorts upon them the indig- 
nities which their fathers did to Moses, which they 
ought to be ashamed of, and humbled for, instead 
of picking quarrels thus, under pretence of zeal for 
the honour of Moses, with one that had as great a 
veneration for him as any of them had. 

(2.) They persecuted him for disputing in defence 
of Christ, and his gospel, in opposition to which they 
set up Moses and his law ; "But" (saith he) "you 
had best take heed," [1.] "Lest you hereby do as 
your fathers did, refuse and reject one whom God 
has raised up to be to you a Prince, and a Saviour; 
you may understand, if you will not wilfully shut 
your eyes against the light, that God will, by this 
Jesus, deliver you out of a worse slavery than that 
in Egypt ; take heed then of thrusting him away, 
but receive him as a Ruler and a Judge over you." 
[2.] "Lest you hereby fare as your fathers fared, 
who for this were justly left to die in their slavery, 
for the deliverance came not till forty years after ; 
this will come of it, you put away the gospel from 
you, and it will be sent to the Gentiles ; you will not 
have Christ, and you shall not have him, so shall 
your doom be," Matt. 23. 38, 39. 

30. And when forty j^ears were expired, 
there appeared to him in the wilderness of 
mount Sina, an angel of the Lord in a 
flame of fire in a bush. 3 1 , When Moses 
saw if, he wondered at the sight : and as 
he drew near to behold it, the voice of the 
Lord came unto him, 32. Saying, I am 
the God of thy fathers, the God of Abra- 
ham, and the God of Isaac, and the God 
of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst 
not behold. 33. Then said the Lord to him, 
Put oif thy shoes from thy feet : for the 
place where thou standest is holy ground. 
34. I have seen, I have seen, the affliction 
of my people which is in Egypt, and I 
have heard their groaning, and am come 
down to deliver them. And now come, ] 
will send thee into Egypt. 55. This Moses 
whom they refused, (saying. Who made 
thee a ruler and a judge ?) the same did 
God send to he a ruler, and a deliverer, by 
the hands of the angel which appeared to 
him in the bush. 36. He brought them 
out, after that he liad shewed wonders and 
signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red 
sea, and in the wilderness, forty years. 

37. This is that Moses which said unto the 
children of Israel, A. propliet shall the Lord 
your God raise up unto you of your bre- 
thren, like unto me : him shall ye hear. 

38. This is he that was in the church in 
the wilderness, with the angel which spake 
to him in the mount Sina, and with our 
fathers : who received the lively oracles to 
give unto us. 39. Whom our fathers would 
not obey, but thrust him from them, and in 
their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 



THE ACTS, VII. 



69 



40. Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to 
go before us : for as for this Moses, which 
brought us out of the land of Egypt, we 
wot not wliat is become of him. 41. And 
they made a calf in those days, and offered 
sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the 
works of their own hands. 

Stephen here proceeds in his story of Moses ; and 
let any one judge, whether these oe the words of 
one that was a blasi)hemer of Moses ; no ; nothing 
could be spoken more honourably of him. Here is, 

I. The vision which he saw of the glory of God 
at the bush ; (x*. 30. ) Jf'/ieji forty years were ex- 
pired, during all which tinae Moses was buried alive 
in Midian, and was now grown old, and, one would 
think, past service, that it might appear that all his 
performances were products of a divine power and 
promise, as it appeared that Isaac was a child of 
promise, by his being born of parents stricken in 
years ; now, at eighty years old, he enters upon that 
post of honour to which he was born, in recompense 
for his self-denial at forty years old. Observe, 

1. Where God appeared to him ; In the tvilder- 
ness of mount Sinai, v. 30. And when he appeared 
to him tliere, that was holy ground, (v. 33. ) which 
Stephen takes notice of, as a check to those who 
prided themselves in the temple, that holy place, as 
if there were no communion to be had with God but 
there ; whereas God met Moses, and manifested 
himself to him, in a remote obscure place m the wil- 
derness of Sinai. They deceive themselves, if they 
think God is tied to places ; he can bring his people 
into a wilderness, and there speak comfortably to 
them. 

2. How he appeared to him ; In a flame offlre ; 
for our God is a consuming Fire ; and yet the bush, 
in which this fire was, though combustible matter, 
was not consumed ; which, as it represented the 
state of Israel in Egypt, where, though they were 
in the fire of affliction, yet they were not consumed, 
so perhaps may be looked upon as a type of Christ's 
incarnation, and the union between the divine and 
human nature ; God, inanifested in the flesh, was as 
the flame of fire, manifested in the bush. 

3. How Moses was affected with this; (1.) He 
wondered at the sight, v. 31. It was a phenomenon 
which all his Egyptian learning could not furnish 
him with the solution of. He had the curiosity at 
first to pry into it ; / will turn aside now, ayid see 
this great sight ; but the nearer he drew, the more 
he was struck with amazement ; and, (2.) He trem- 
bled, and durst not behold, durst not look wistly 
upon it ; for he was soon aware that it was not a 
fiery meteor, but the angel of the Lord ; and no 
other than the Angel of the covenant, the Son of 
God himself. This set him a trembling. Stephen 
was accused for blaspheming Moses and God, {ch. 
6. 11.) as if Moses had been a little god ; but, by 
this it appears that he was a man subject to like 
passions as we are ; and particularly that of fear, 
upon any appearance of the divine Majesty and 
Glory. 

II. The declaration which he heard of the co- 
venant of God; {y. 32.) The -voice of the Lord 
came to him ; for faith comes by hearing ; and this 
was it ; / am the God of thy fathers, the God of 
Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob ; 
and therefore, 1. "I am the same that I was." The 
covenant God made with Abraham some ages ago, 
was, / will be to thee a God, a God all-sufficient. 
"Now," saith God, "that covenant is still in full 
force ; it is not cancelled or forgotten, but I am, as 
I was, the God of Abraham, and now I will make it 
c appear so ;" for all the favours, all the honours 



God put upon Israel, were founded upon this cove- 
nant with Abraham, and flowed from it. 2. "I will 
be the same that I am." For if tRe death of Abra- 
ham, Isaac, and Jacob, cannot break the covenant- 
relation between God and them, (as by this it ap- 
pears it could not,) then nothing else can : and then 
he will be a God, 

(1.) To their souls, which are now separated from 
their bodies. Our Saviour bv this proves the future 
state. Matt. 22. 31. Abraham is dead, and yet God 
is still his God, therefore Abi-aham is still alive. 
God never did that for him in this Avorld, which 
would answer the true intent and full extent of that 
promise, that he would be the God of Abraham ; 
and therefore it must be done for him in the other 
world. Now this is that life and immortality which 
are brought to light by the gospel, for the full con- 
viction of the Sadducees, who denied it. Those 
therefore who stood up in defence of the gospel, 
and endeavoured to propagate that, were so far from 
blaspheming Moses, that they did the greatest ho- 
nour imaginable to Moses, and that glorious disco- 
very which God made of liimself to him at the bush. 

(2.) To their seed. God, in declaring himself 
thus the God of their fathers, intimated his kindness 
to their seed, that they should be loved for the fa- 
thers' sakes, Rom. li. 28. Deut. 7. 8." Now the 
preachers of the gospel preached up this covenant, 
the promise made of God unto the fathers ; unto 
which promise, those of the twelve tribes, that did 
continue serving God, hoped to come, ch. 26. 6, 7. 
And shall they, under colour of supporting the holy 
place, and the law, oppose the covenant which was 
made with Abraham and his seed, his spiritual seed, 
before the law was given, and long before the holy 
place was built P Since God's glory must be for ever 
advanced, and our glorying for ever silenced, God 
will have our salvation to be by promise; and not by 
the law ; the Jews therefore who persecuted the 
Christians, under pretence that they blasphemed the 
law, did themselves blaspheme the promise, and for- 
sook all their own mercies that were contained in it. 

III. The commission which God gave him to de- 
liver Israel out of Egvpt. The Jews set up Moses 
in competition with Christ, ar.d accused Stephen as 
a blasphemer, because he did not do so too. But 
Stephen here shews that Moses was an eminent 
type of Christ, as he was Israel's deliverer. When 
God had declared himself the God of Abraham, he 
proceeded, 

1. To order Moses into a reverent posture ; "Put 
off thy shoes from thy feet. Enter not upon sacred 
things with low, and cold, and common thoughts. 
Keep thy foot, Eccl. 5. 1. Be not hasty and rash in 
thy approaches to God ; tread softly. " 

2. To order Moses into a very eminent service. 
When he is ready to receive commands, he shall 
have commission. He is commissioned to demand 
leave from Pharaoh for Israel to go out of his land, 
and to enforce that demand, v. 34. Observe, (1.) 
The notice God took both of their sufferings, and 
of their sense of their sufferings ; / have seen, I 
have seen, their affliction, and have heard their 
groaning. God has a compassionate regard to the. 
troubles of his church, and the groans of his perse- 
cuted people ; and their deliverance takes rise from 
his pity. (2. ) The determination he fixed to redeem 
them by the hand of Moses ; I am come down to 
deliver them. It should seem, though God is pre- 
sent in all places, yet he uses that expression here, 
o{ coming down to deliver them, because that deli- 
verance was typical of what Christ did, when, for 
us me7i, and for our salvation, he came down from 
heaven ; he that ascended, first descended. Moses 
is the man that must be employed ; Come, and I will 
send thee into Egypt ; and if God send him, he will 
own him, and give him success. 



70 



THE ACTS, VII 



IV, His acting in pursuance of this commission, 
■wherein he was a figure of the Messiah. And Ste- 
phen takes notice here again of the slights they had 
put upon him, the affronts they had given him, and 
their refusal to have him to reign over them, as 
tending very much to magnify his agency in their 
deliverance. 

1. God put honour upon him, whom they put 
contempt upon; (x". 35.) This Moses whom they 
refused, whose kind offers, and good offices they 
rejected with scorn, saying, IVho made thee a ruler 
and a judge '^ Thou takest too much upon thee, thou 
son of Levi ; (Numb. 16. 3. ) that same Moses did 
God send to be a ruler, ajida deliverer, by the hands 
of the angel ivhich appeared to him in the bush. It 
may be undei'stood, either that God sent to him by 
the hand of the angel ; or, that by the hand of the 
angel going along with him, he became a complete 
deliverer. Now, by this example, Stephen would 
intimate to the council. That this Jesus whom they 
now refused, as their fathers did Moses, saying. 
Who made thee a Prophet and a King? IVho gave 
thee this authority? Even this same has God ad- 
vanced to be a Prince and a Saviour, a Ruler and a 
Deliverer ; as the apostles had told them a while 
ago, {ch. 5. 30.) that the Stone which the builders 
refused, was become the head-stone in the comer, 
ch. 4. 11. 

2. God shewed favour to them by him, and he 
was very forward to serve them, though they had 
thrust him away. God might justly have refused 
them his service, and he might justly have declined 
it ; but it is all forgotten, they are not so much as 
upbraided with it, v. 36. He brought them out, 
notwithstanding, after that he had shewed wonders 
and signs in the land of Egypt ; which were after- 
ward continued for the completing their deliver- 
ance, according as the ca^e called for it, in the Red 
sea, and in the wilderness forty years. So far is he 
from blaspheming Moses, that he admires him as a 
glorious instiTiment in the hand of God, for the form- 
ing of the Old Testament church. But it does not 
at all derogate from his just honour to say, that he 
was but an instrument, and that he is outshone by 
this Jesus, whom he encourages these Jews yet to 
close with, and to come into his interest, not fearing 
but that then they should be received into his fa- 
vour, and receive benefit by him, as the people of 
Israel were delivered by Moses, though they had 
once refused him. 

V. His prophecy of Christ and his grace, v. 37. 
He not only was a type of Christ, (many were so, 
that perhaps had not an actual foresight of his day,) 
but Moses spake of him ; {v. 37.) This is that Mo- 
ses, which said unto the children of Israel, ^prophet 
shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your 
brethren. This is spoken of as one of the greatest 
honours God put upon him, (nay as that which ex- 
ceeded all the rest,) that by him he gave notice 
to the children of Israel of the great Prophet that 
should come into the world, raised their expectation 
of him, and obliged them to receive liim. When 
his bringing of them out of Egvpt is spoken of, it is 
with an emphasis of honour, 'This is that Moses ! 
(Exod. 6. 26.) And so it is here, This is that Moses ! 
Now this is ver)- full to Stephen's puri:)Osc ; in as- 
serting that Jesus should change the customs of 
the ceremonial Ijiw, he was so far from blasphem- 
ing Moses, that really he did him the greatest ho- 
nour imaginable, by shewing how the prophecy of 
Moses was accomplished, wluch was so clear, that, 
as Christ told them himself, If they had believed 
Moses, they would have beliex^e'd him, John 5. 46. 

1. Moses, in God's name, told them, that, in the 
fulness of time, they should have a Prophet raised 
up among them, one of their own nation, that should 
belike unto him, {ch. 18. 15, 18.) a Ruler and a 



Deliverer, a Judge and a Lawgiver, like him ; who 
should therefore have authority to change the cus- 
toms that he had delivered, and to bring in a better 
hope, as the Mediator of a better testament. 

2. He charged them to hear that Prophet, to re- 
ceive his dictates, to admit the change he %yould 
make in their customs, and to submit to him in every 
thing ; and this will be the greatest honour you can 
do to Moses and to his law, who said, Hear ye him; 
and came to be a witness to the repetition of this 
charge by a voice from heaven, at the trans/igura- 
tion of Christ, and by his silence he gave consent to 
it. Matt. 17. 5. 

VI. The eminent services which Moses continued 
to do to the people of Israel, after he had been in- 
strumental to bring them out of Egypt, v. 38. And 
herein also he was a type of Christ, who yet so far 
exceeds him, that it is no blasphemy to sav, " He has 
authority to change the customs that Moses deli- 
vered." It was the honour of Moses, 

1. That he was iji the church in the wilderness ; 
he presided in all the affairs of it for fortv years ; 
was king in Jeshurun, Deut. 33. 5. The camp of 
Israel is here called the church in the wilderTiess ; 
for it was a sacred society, incoi-porated by a divine 
charter under a divine government, and blessed with 
divine revelation. The church in the wilderness 
was a church, though it was not yet perfectly form- 
ed, as it was to be when they came to Canaan, but 
every man did that which was right in his own eyes, 
Deut. 12. 8, 9. It was the honour of Moses, that he 
was in that church, and many a time it had been 
destroyed if Moses had net been in it to intercede for 
it. But Christ is the President and Guide of a more 
excellent and glorious church than that in the wil- 
derness was, and is more in it, as" the life and soul 
of it, than Moses could be in that. 

2. That he was with the angel that spake to him in 
the mount SiTiai, and with our fathers ; was with 
him in the holy mount twice forty days, with the 
angel of the covenant, Michael, our Prince. Moses 
was immediately conversant with God, but never 
lay in his bosom as Christ did from eternity. Or, 
these words may be taken thus ; JMoses was in the 
church in the wilderness, but it was with the angel 
that spake to him in mount Sinai, that is, at the burn- 
ing bush ; for that was said to be at mount Sinai, {v, 
30. ) that angel went before him, and was guide to 
him, else he could not have been a guide to Israel ; 
of this God speaks, (Exod. 23. 20.) I send an angel 
before thee, and Exod. 33. 2. And see Numb. 20. 16. 
He was in the church with the angel, without whom 
he could have done no service to the church ; but 
Christ is himself that angel, which was with the 
church in the wilderness, and therefore has an au- 
thority abo\ e Moses. 

3. That he received the lively oracles to giz'e unto 
the?n ; not only the ten commandments, but the 
other instructions which the Lord spake unto JMo- 
ses, sayi?ig, S/ieak thnn to the children of Israel. 
(1.) The words of Ciod are oracles, certain and in- 
fallible, and of unquestionable authority aiul obliga- 
tion ; they are to be consulted as oracles, and by 
them all controversies must be determined. (2.) 
They are lively oracles, for they are the oracles of 
the living God, not of the dumlj and dead idols of the 
heathens ; the word that God speaks, is s/iirit and 
life ; not that the law of Moses could give life, but 
it shewed the way to life ; If thou wilt enter into 
life, keep the commandments. (3.) Moses received 
them from God, and delivered nothing as an oracle 
to the people but what he had first received from 
God. (4.) The lively oracles which he received 
from God, he faithfully gave to the people, to be 
observed and prescned. It was the i)rincipal pri- 
vilege of the Jews, that to them were committed the 
oracles of God: and it was bv the hand of Moses 



THE ACTS, \T1. 



71 



thut t!i(.'y wei'e c inirn'itted. As Moses gave them 
not that breud, so neither did he give them that law 
from lieaven, (John 6. 32.) but God gave it them ; 
and he that gave them those customs by his servant 
Moses, might, no doubt, when he pleased, change 
the customs by his Son Jesus, who has received 
more lively oracles to give unto us, than Moses did. 
VII. 'Die contempt that was, after this, and not- 
withstanding this, put upon him by the people. 
They that charged Stephen with speaking agamst 
Moses, would do well to answer what their own an- 
cestors had done, and they tread in their steps. 

1. They would not obey him, but thrust him from 
them, V. 35. They murmured at him, mutinied 
against him, refused to obey his orders, and some- 
times were ready to stone him. Moses did indeed 
give them an excellent law, but by this it appeared 
that it could not make the comers thereunto perfect, 
(Heb. 10. 1.) for in their hearts they turned back 
again into Kgyjit, and preferred their garlick and 
onions there, before the manna they had under the 
conduct of Moses, or the milk and honey they hoped 
for in Canaan. Obsene, Their secret disaffection to 
Moses, and inclination to Egyptianism, (if I may so 
call it,) were, in effect, tunung back to Egypt, it 
was doing it in heart ; many that pretend to be go- 
ing forwards toward Canaan, by keeping up a shew 
and profession of religion, are, at the same time, in 
their hearts turning back to Egypt, like Lot's wife 
to Sodom, and will be dealt with as deserters, for it 
is the heart that God looks at. Now if the customs 
that Moses delivered to them could not prevail to 
change them, wonder not that Christ comes to 
change the customs, and to introduce a more spiri- 
tual Avay of worship. 

2. They made a golden ca//" instead of him, which, 
beside the affront that was thereby done to God, 
was a great indignity to Moses : for it was upon this 
consideration that they made the calf : because, as 
for this Moses, tvho brought us out of the land of 
Egypt, ive ii'ot not vjhat is become of him ; there- 
fore make us gods of gold ; as if a calf were suffici- 
ent to supply the want of Moses, and as capable of 
going before them into the promised land. So they 
made a calf in those daj's when the law was given 
them, and offered sacrifices imto the idol, and re- 
joiced in the vjork of their own hands. So proud 
were they of their new god, that when they had 
sitten down to eat and drink, they rose ufx to play ! 
By all this it appears that there was a great deal 
which the law could not do, in that it was weak 
through the flesh ; it was therefore necessary that 
this law should be perfected by a better hand, and 
he was no blasphemer against Moses, who said 
Christ had done it. 

42. Then God turned, and gave them 
up to worship the host of heaven ; as it is 
written in the book of the prophets, O ye 
house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain 
beasts, and sacrifices, by the space of forty 
years in the wilderness ? 43. Yea, ye took 
up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star 
of your god Remphan, figures which ye 
made, to worship them : and I will carry 
you away beyond Babylon. 44. Our fa- 
thers had the tabernacle of witness in the 
wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking 
unto iVIoses, that he should make it ac- 
cording to the fashion that he had seen. 
45. AMiich also our fathers that came after, 
brought in with Jesus into the possession 
of the Gentiles, whom God drave out be- 



[ fore the face of our fathers, unto the days 
I of David. 4G. Who found favour before 
God, and desired to find a tabernacle for 
the God of Jacob. 47. But Solomon built 
him a house. 48. Howbeit tiie most High 
dwelleth not in temples made with hands ; 
as saith the prophet, 49. Heaven is my 
throne, and earth is my footstool: what 
house will ye build me ? saith the Lord : 
or what is the place of my rest ? 50. Hath 
not my hand made all these things ? 
Two things we have in these verses : 
I. Stephen upbraids them with the idolatry of 
their fathers, which- God gave them up to, as a pu- 
nishment for their early forsaking him in worship- 
ping the golden calf; and this was the saddest pu- 
nishment of all for that sin, as it was of the idolatrv" 
of the Gentile world, that God gave them up to a 
reprobate sense. When Israel was joined to idols, 
joined to the golde?i calf, and, not long after, to 
Baal-peor, God said, Let them alone ; let them go 
on, V. 42. Then God turned, and gave them up to 
worship the host of heaven. He particularly cau- 
tioned them not to do it, at their peril, and gave' them 
reasons why thty should not ; but when they were 
bent upon it he gave them up to their own hearts 
lust, withdrew his restraining grace, and then they 
walked in their own counsels, and Avere so scanda- 
lously mad upon their idols, as never any peoijle 
were. Compare Deut. 4. 19. with Jer. 8. 2. 

For this he quotes a passage out of Amos 5. 25. For 
it would be less invidious to tell them their own from 
an Old Testament prophet, who ujjbraids them, 

1. For not sacrificing to their own God in the wil- 
derness; {v. 42.) Have ye offered to me slain beasts, 
and sacrifices, by the space of forty years in the wil- 
derness f No ; during all that time it was intermit- 
ted ; they did not so much as keep the passover after 
the second year. It was God's condescension to 
them, that he did not insist upon it during their un- 
settled state; but then let them consider how ill they 
requited him, in offering sacrifices to idols, when 
God dispensed with their offering to him. This is 
also a check to their zeal for the customs that Mo- 
ses delivered to them, and their fear of having them 
changed by this Jesus, that immediately after they 
were delivered, they were for forty years together 
disused as needless things. 

2. For sacrificing to other gods after they came to 
Canaan ; {y. 43.) Ye took ufi the tabernacle of Mo- 
loch. Moloch was the idol of the children of Am- 
mnn, to which they barbarously offered their own 
children in sacrifice, which they could not do with- 
out great terror and grief to th'cmschcs and their 
families ; yet this unnatural idolatry they arrived at, 
when God gave them up to worship the host of hea- 
ven. See 2 Chroii. 28. 3. It' was surely the strong- 
est delusion that ever people were given up to, and 
the greatest instance of the power of Satan in the 
children of disobedience, and thcrefoi-p it is here spo- 
ken of em])hatically, Yea, you took uh the taberna- 
cle of Moloch, you. submitted even to that, and to 
the worship of the star of your god Remphan ; some 
think, it signifies the moon, as Moloch does the su7i ; 
others take it for Saturn, for that planet is called 
Remphan, in the Syriac and Persian languages. 
The Septuagint puts it for Chiun, as being a name 
more commonly known. They had images repre- 
senting the star, like the silver shrines for Diana, 
here called the figures which they made to worship. 
Dr. Lightfoot thinks they had figures representing 
the whole starry firmament, with all the constella- 
tions, and the planets, and these are called Rem- 
phan, " the high representation/' like thf. ( elestiaJ 



THE ACTS, VII. 



globe. A poor thing to make an idol of, aiid yet 
better than a golden calf ! 

Now for this it is threatened, I will carry you away 
beyond Babylon. In Amos it is beyond Damascus, 
meaning to Babylon, the land of the north. But 
Stephen changes it, with an ej-e to the captivity of 
the ten tribes, who were carried away beyond Ba- 
bylon, by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the 
Medes, 2 Kings 17. 6. Let it not therefore seem 
strange to them, to hear of the destruction of this 
place, for they had heard of it many a time from the 
prophets of the Old Testament, who were not there- 
fore accused as blasphemers by any but the wicked 
rulers. It was observed, in the debate on Jeremi- 
ah's case, that Micah was not called to an account, 
though he prophesied, saving, Zion shall be ploughed 
as afield, Jer. 26. 18, 19. 

II. He gives an answer particularly to the charge 
exhibited against him relating to the temple, that 
he sfiake blasphemous words against that holy 
place, V. 44 — 50. He was accused for saying that 
Jesus would destroy this holy place ; " And what if 
I did say so ?" (saith Stephen ;) "the gloiy of the 
holy God is not bound up in the glory of this holy 
place, but that may be preserved untouched, though 
this be laid in the dust ;" for, 

1. It was not till our fathers came into the wilder- 
ness, in their way to Canaan, that they had any fixed 

Elace of worship ; and yet the patriarchs, many ages 
efore, worshipped God acceptably at the altars 
they had adjoining to their own tents in the open air 
— sub dio ; and he that was worshipped without a 
holy place, in the first, and best, and purest ages of 
the Old Testament church, may and will be so when 
this holy place is destroyed, without any diminution 
to his glory. 

2. The holy place was at first but a tabernacle, 
mean and moveable, speaking itself to be short- 
lived, and not designed to continue always. Why 
might not this holy place, though built of stones, be 
decently brouijht to its end, and give place to its 
betters, as well as that though framed of curtains ? 
As it was no dishonour, but an honour, to God, that 
the tabernacle gave way to the temple, so it is now 
that the material temple gives way to the spiritual 
one, and so it will be when, at last, the spiritual 
temple shall give way to the eternal one. 

3. That tabernacle was a tabernacle of witness, or 
of testimouv, a figure for the time then present, 
(Heb. 9. 9.) a figure of good things to come, of the 
true tabernacle which the Lord pitched, and not 
men, Heb. 8. 2. This was the glory both of the ta- 
bernacle and temple, that tliey were erected for a 
testimony oi that temple of God, which in the latter 
days should be opened in heaven, (Rev. 11. 19.) and 
of Christ's tabernacling it on earth, (as the word is, 
John 1. 14.) and of ;/;^ temple of his body. 

4. That tabernacle was framed just as God ap- 
pointed, and according to the fashion which Moses 
saw in the mount; which plainly intimates that it 
had reference to good thi?igs to come ; its rise being 
heavenly, its meaning and tendency were so ; and 
therefore it was no diminution at all to its glory, to 
say, that this temple made with hands should be des- 
troyed, in order to the building of another made 
without hands; which was Christ's crime, (Mark 
14. 58. ) and Stephen's. 

5. That tabernacle was pitched first in the wil- 
derness ; it was not a native of this land of yours, 
(to which you think it must for ever be confined,) 
but was brought in in the next age, by our fathers, 
who came after those who first erected it, into the 
possession of the Gentiles, into the land of Canaan, 
which had long been in the possession of the de- 
voted nations, whom God drove out before the face 
pf our fathers. And why may not God set up his 
spiritual temple, as he had done the material taber- 



nacle, in those countries that were now the pctses- 
sion of the Gentiles ? That tabernacle was brought 
in by those who came with Jesus, that is, Joshua. 
And I think, for distinction-sake, and to prevent 
mistakes, it ought to be so read, both here and Heb. 
4. 8. Yet, in naming Tos/n/a here, which, in Greek, 
is Jesus, there may be a tacit intimation, that as the 
Old Testament Joshua brought in that typical taber- 
nacle, so the New Testament Joshua should bring 
in the true tabernacle into the possession of the 
Gentiles. 

6. That tabernacle continued for many ages, even 
to the days of David, above four hundred years, be- 
fore there was any thought of building a temple, v. 
45. David, ha.\\u^ found favour before God, did 
indeed desire this further favour, to have leave to 
build God a house, to l)e a constant, settled tabenia- 
cle or dwelling-place, for the Sheclunah, or the to- 
kens of the presence of the God of Jacob, v. 46. 
Those who have found favour with God, should 
shew themselves forward to advance the interests 
of his kingdom among men. 

7. God had his heart so little upon a temple, or 
such a holy place as they were so jealous for, that, 
when Davfd desired to build one, he was forbidden 
to do it ; God was in no haste for one, as he told Da- 
vid ; (2 Sam. 7. 7. ) f^nd therefore it was not he, but 
his son Solomon, some years after, that built him a 
house. David had all that sweet communion with 
God in public worship, which we read of in his 
psalms, before there was any temple built. 

8. God often declared, that temples, made with 
hands, were not his delight, nor could add any 
thing to the perfection of his rest and joy. Solo- 
mon, when he dedicated the temple, acknowledged 
that God dwelleth not in temples made with hands ; 
he has not need of them, is not benefited by them, 
cannot be confined to them. The whole world is his 
temple, in which he is every where present, and fills 
it with his glory ; and what occasion has he for a 
temple then to manifest himself in ? Indeed the pre- 
tended deities of the heathen needed temples made 
with hands, for they were gods 7nade with hands, 
(v. 41.) and had no other place to manifest them- 
selves in than in their own temples ; but the one 
only true and living God needs no temjile, for the 
heaven is his throne, in which he rests, a?id the earth 
is his footstool, over which he rules ; {y. 49, 50.) and 
therefore. What house ivillye build ine, comparable 
to this which I have already ? Or, what is the place 
of my rest? \^'hat need ha\c I of a house, either to 
repose myself in, or to shew myself? Hath not my 
hand made all these things ? And these shew his eter- 
nal power and Godhead ; (Rom. 1. 20.) they shew 
themselves so to all mankind, that they are without 
excuse, who worship other gods. And as the world 
is thus God's temple, wherein he is manifested, so 
it is God's temple in which he will be worshijjpcd. 
As the earth is full of his glory, and is therefore his 
temple, (Isa. 6. o. ) so the earth is, or shall be, full 
of his praise, (Hab. 2. 3.) and all the ends of the 
earth shall fear him; (Ps. 67. 7.) upon that ac- 
count it is his temple. It was therefore no reflection 
at all upon this holy place, however tliey might take 
it, to say that Jesus shall destroy this temple and set 
up another, into which all nations shall be admitted, 
ch. 15. 16, 17. And it would not seem strange to 
them who considered that scripture which Stephen 
here quotes, (Isa. 66. 1 — 3.) which, as it spake God's 
comparative contempt of the external ])art of his 
service, so it plainly foretold the rejection of the un- 
believing Jews, and the welcome of the Gentiles 
into the church, that were of a contrite spirit. 

.51. Ye stiff-necked, and uncirriimrised 
in heart and ears, ye do always resist the 
Holy Ghost • as your fathers did., so do ye 



THE ACTS, VII. 



73 



52. Which of the prophets have not your 
fathers persecuted ? And they have slain 
them which shewed before of the comhig 
of the just One, of whom ye have been 
now the betrayers and murderers: 53. 
VVlio have received the law by the dis])o- 
sition of angels, and have not kept it. 

Stephen was going on in his discourse, (as it should 
seem by the thread of it,) to shew that, as the tem- 
ple, so the temple-service must come to an end, and 
It would be the glory of both to give way to that 
worshiji of the Father in sfiirit and in truth, which 
was to be established in the kingdom of the jMessiah, 
stripped of the pompous ceremonies of the old law ; 
and so he was going to apply all this which he had 
said, more closely to his present purpose ; but he 
perceived they could not bear it ; they could pa- 
tiently hear the history of the Old Testament told ; 
(it was a piece of learning which they themselves 
dealt much in ;) but if Stephen go about to tell 
them that their power and tyranny must come 
down, and that the church nmst be governed by a 
spirit of holiness and love, and beavenly-minded- 
ness, they will not so much as give him the hearing. 
It is probable that he perceived this, and that they 
were going to silence him ; and therefore he breaks 
off abruptly in the midst of his discourse, and by 
that spirit of wisdom, courage and power where- 
with he was filled, he sharply rebuked his persecu- 
tors, and gave them tlieir own ; for if they will not 
admit the testimony of the gospel to them, it shall 
become a testimony against them. 

I. They, like tlieir fathers, were stubborn and 
wilful, and would not be wrought upon by the va- 
rious methods God took to reclaim and reform 
them ; they were like their fathers, inflexible both 
to the word of God and to his providences. 

1. They were stiff-necked, {v. 51.) and would not 
submit their necks to the sweet and easy yoke of 
God's government, nor draw in it, but were like a 
bullock, unaccustomed to the yoke ; or they would not 
bow their heads, no not to God himself, would not 
do obeisance to him, would not humble themselves 
before him ; the stiff neck is the same with the hard 
heart, obstinate and contumacious, and that will not 
yield — the general character of the Jewish nati6n, 
Exod. 32. 9.-33. 3, 5.-34. 9. Deut. 9. 6, 13.— 
31. 27. Ezek. 2. 4. 

2. They were micircumcised in heart and ears; 
their hearts and ears were not devoted and given up 
to God, as the body of the people were in profes- 
sion by the sign of circumcision; "In name and 
shew you are circumcised Jews, but in heart and 
ears you are still uncircumcised heathens, and pay 
no more deference to the authority of your God 
than they do, Jer. 9. 26. You are under the power 
of unmortified lusts and corruptions, which stop 
your ears to the voice of God, and harden your 
hearts to that which is both most commanding and 
most affecting." They had not that circumcision 
made ivithout hands, in putting off the body of the 
sins of the flesh. Col. 2. 11. 

II. They, like their fathers, were not only not in- 
fluenced by the methods God took to reform them, 
but they were enraged and incensed against them ; 
Ye do always resist the Holy Ghost. 

1. They resisted the Holy Ghost speaking to them 
bv the prophets, whom they opposed and contra- 
dicted, hated and ridiculed ; this seems especially 
meant here, by the following explication, Itliich of 
the firofihets Piave not your fathers persecuted ? In 
persecuting and silencing them that spake by the 
inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they resisted the Holy 
Ghost. Their fathers resisted the Holy Ghost in 
the prophets that God raised up to them, and so did 

Vol. VI.— K 



they in Christ's apostles and ministers, who spake 
by the same Spirit, and had greater measures of his 
gifts than the prophets of the Old Testament had, 
and yet were more resisted. 

2. They resisted the Holy Gliost stri\ing with 
them by their own consciences, and would not com- 
ply with the convictions and dictates of them, (iod's 
Spirit strove with them as with the old world, but 
in vain ; they resisted him, took "part with their 
corruptions against their convictions, and rebelled 
against the light. There is that in our sinful licarts, 
that always resists the Holy Ghost, a flesh that lusts 
against the Spirit, and wars against liis motions; 
but in the hearts of God's elect, when the fulness 
of time comes, this resistance is overcome and over- 
powered, and after a struggle tlie throne of Christ 
is set up in the soul, arid every thought tliat had ex- 
alted itself against it, is brought into captivity to it, 
2 Cor. 10. 4, 5. That grace therefore which effects 
this change, might more fitly be called victorious 
grace, than irresistible. 

III. They, like their fathers, persecuted and slew 
those whom God sent unto them to call them to duty, 
and make them offers of mercv. 

1. Their fathers had been the cruel and constant 
persecutors of the Old Testament prophets ; \v. 
57.) Jt'hich of the prophets have not your fathers 
jxersecuted? More or less, one time or other, they 
had a blow at them all. With regard even to those 
that lived in the best reigns, when tlie princes did 
not persecute them, there was a malignant partv in 
the nation that mocked at them and abused them, 
and most of them were at last, either by colour of 
law, or popular fury, put to death ; and that which 
aggravated the sin of persecuting the prophets, was, 
that the business of the prophets they were so spite- 
ful at, was, to sheKV before of the coming of the Just 
One ; to give notice of God's kind intentions loward 
that people, to send the Messiah among them in the 
fulness of time. They that were tlie messengers of 
such glad tidings, should have been courted and ca- 
ressed, and have had the preferments of the best of 
benefactors ; but, instead of that, they had the treat- 
ment of the worst of malefactors. 

2. They had been the betrayers and murderers 
of the Just One himself, as I'eter had told them, ch. 
3. 24. — 5. 30. They had hired Judas to beti-av him, 
and had in a manner forced Pilate to condemn him ; 
and therefore it is charged upon them, that they 
were his betrayers and murderers. Thus tliev were 
the genuine seed of those who slew tliem that fore- 
told his coming, which by slaying him, they shewed 
they would have done if they had lived then ; and 
thus, our Saviour had told them, they brought upon 
themselves the guilt of the blood of all the pro- 
])hets. Which of the prophets would they have 
shewed any respect to, who had no regard to the 
Son of God himself? 

IV. They, like their fathers, put contempt upon 
divine revelation, and would not be guided and go- 
verned by it ; and this was the aggi'avation of their 
sin, that God had given, as to their fathers his law, 
so to tliem his gospel, in vain. 

1. Their fathers recefved the lanv, and have not 
kept it, T. 53. God wrote to them the great things 
of his law, after he had first spoken to them ; and 
yet they were counted by them as a strange or 
foreign thing, which they were no wav concerned 
in. The law is said to be recerx^ed by the disposition 
of angels, because angels were emplo)'ed in the so- 
lemnity of giving the law ; in the ihunderings and 
lightnings, and the sound of the trumpet. It is said 
to be ordained by angels ; (Gal. 3. 19.) God is said 
to come ivith ten thousand of his saints, to gi^■e the 
law ; (Deut. 33. 2.) and it was a. word spoken by an- 
gels, Heb. 2. 2. This put an honour both upon the 
law and the Lawgiver, and should increase our vc 



74 



THE ACTS, VII. 



neratlon for both. But they that thus received the 
law, yet kept it not, but by making the golden calf 
broke it immediately in a capital instance. 

2. I'hey received the gospel now, by the disposi- 
tion, not of angels, but of the Holy (yhost ; not with 
the sound of a trumpet, but, which was more strange, 
in the gift of tongues, and yet tliey did not embrace 
it. Tliey would not yield to the plainest demonstra- 
tions, any more than their fathers before them did, 
for they were resolved not to comply with God 
either in his law or in his gospel. 

W^e have reason to think Stephen had a gi-eat 
deal more to say, and would ha\e said it, if they 
Svould have suffered him ; but they were wicked 
and unreasonable men with whom he had to do, that 
could no more hear reason than they could sfieak it. 

54. When they heard tliese things, they 
were cut to the heart, and they gnashed 
on him with their teeth. 55. But he, being 
full of the Holy (ihost, looked up stead- 
fastly into heaven, and saw the glory of 
God, and Jesus standing on the right hand 
of God. 56. And said. Behold, 1 see the 
heavens opened, and tlie Son of man stand- 
ing on the right hand of God. 51. Then 
they cried out with a loud voice, and 
stopped their ears, and ran upon him with 
one accord, 58. And cast him out of the 
city, and stoned liim: and the witnesses 
laid down their clothes at a young man's 
feet, whose name was Saul. 59. And they 
stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and say- 
ing. Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60. 
And he kneeled down, and cried with a 
loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their 
charge. And when he had said this, he 
fell asleep. 

We have here the death of the first martyr of the 
christian church, and there is in this story a lively 
instance of the outrage and fury of tlie persecutors, 
(such as we maj" expect to meet with if we are 
called out to suffer for Christ,) and of the courage 
and comfort of the persecuted, that are thus called 
out. Here is hell in its fire and darkness, and hea- 
ven in its light and brightness ; and these here serve 
as foils to set off each otlier. It is not here said, 
that the votes of tlie council were taken upon his 
case, and that by the majority he was found guilty, 
and then condemned and ordered to be stoned to 
death, accoixling to the law, as a blasphemer ; but, 
it is likely, so it was, and that it was not by the vio- 
lence of the people, without order of tlie council, 
that he was put to death ; fol- here is the usual cere- 
mony of reguhir executions — he was ca.v^ out of the 
city, and the hands of the witnesses were first iijion 
him. 

Let us observe here the wonderful c//scomposure 
of the si)irits of his enemies and ^persecutors, and 
the wonderful cowjjosui-e of his spirit. 

I. See the strengtli of corrujnion in the persecu- 
tors of Ste])hen ; malice in jicrfection, hell itself 
broken loose, men become incarnate devils, and the 
seri)ent's seed spitlini:; their venom ! 

1. It'heyi they heard these thin,ifs, they were cut to 
the heart, (t'. 54.) ^n-rfiovro, the same word that is 
used Heb. 11. 37. and translated, they were sawn 
asunder. They were ])ut to as much torture in their 
minds as ever the martyrs were ])ut to in their bo- 
dies. They were filled with indignation at the nn- 
answerable arguments that Stephen urged for their 



conviction, and that they could find nothing to say 
against them. They were not pricked to the heart 
with sorrow, as those were ch. 2. 37. bui cut to the 
heart witli rage and fuiy, as they themselves were, 
ch. 5. 33. Stephen rebuked them sharply, as Paul 
expresses it, (Tit. 1. T3.) u7r'.lijua>; — cuttingly, for 
they were cut to the heart by the reproof. Note, 
Rejecters of the gospel and ojjposers of it are really 
tormentors to themselves. Enmity to God is a heart- 
cutting thing; faith and love are heart-healing. When 
they heard how he that looked like an angel before 
he began his discourse, talked like an angel, like a 
messenger from heaven, before he had done it, they 
were like a wild bull in a net, full of the fury of the 
Lord, (Isa. 51. 20.) despairing to i-un down a cause 
so bravely pleaded, and yet resolved not to yield 
to it. 

2. Thev gnashed ufion him with their teeth; this 
speaks, (l.) Great malice and rage against him. 
Job complained of his enemy, that he gnashed upon 
him with his teeth. Job 16. 9. The language of this 
was, that we had of his Jlesh to eat. Job 31. 31. 
They grinyted at him, as dogs at those they are en- 
raged at ; and tlierefore Paul, cautioning against 
those of the circumcision, says. Beware of dogs, 
Phil. 3. 2. Enmity at the saints turns men into 
brute beasts. (2.) Great vexation within them- 
selves ; they fretted to see in him such manifest to- 
kens of a divine power and presence, and it vexed 
them to the heart. The wicked shall see it, and be 
grieved, he shall gnash with his teeth and melt away, 
rs. 112. 10. Gnashing with the teeth is often usea 
to express the horror and torments of tlie damned. 
Those that have the malice of hell, cannot but have 
with it some of the pains of hell. 

3. They cried out with a loud voice; (■?-. 50.) to 
irritate and excite one another, and to drown the 
noise of the clamours of their own and one another's 
consciences : when he said, / see heaven opened, 
they cried with a loud voice, that he might not be 
heard to speak. Note, It is very common for a 
righteous cause, particularly tlie righteous cause of 
Christ's religion, to be endeavoured to be run down 
by noise and clamour ; what is wanting in reason is 
made up in tumult, and the cry of him that ruleth 
among fools, while the words of the wise are heard 
in quiet. They cried with a loud voice, as soldiers 
when they are going to engage in battle, mustering 
up all their spirit and vigour for this desperate en- 
counter. 

4. They stopped their ears, that they might not 
hear their own noisiness ; or perhaps, under pre- 
tence that they could not bear to hear his blasphe- 
mies. As Caiaphas rent his clothes wlien Christ 
said. Hereafter ye shall see the Son of man coming 
in glory, (Matth. 26. 64, 65.) so these here stopped 
their ears when Stephen said, I now see the Son of 
mail standing in gloTy ; both pretending that wliat 
was spoken was not to be heard with ])atience. 
Their stopping their ears was, (1.) A manifest spe- 
cimen of their wilful obstinacy ; they were resolved 
they would not liear what had a tendency to con- 
vince them, which was what the pro])hcts often 
comjilained of; they were like the draf adder, that 
will not hear the voice of the charmer, Ps. 58. 4, 5. 
(2.) It was a fatal omen of that judicial hardness to 
which God would give them up. They sto])pcd their 
ears, and then God, in a way of i-ightcous judgment, 
sto])ped them. That was tlie work that was now in 
doing with the unbelieving Jews ; Make the heart of 
tliis people fat, and their ears heavy ; thus was Ste- 
phen's character of them answered, Ye uncircum- 
cised in heart and ears. 

5. They ran upon him with one accord ; the peo- 
ple and the elders of the jjcople, judges, prosecu- 
tors, witnesses, and spectators, they all flew upon 
him, as beasts upon their jjrcy. rice how violen* 



THE ACTS, VII. 



75 



they were, and in what haste ; they ran ufion him, 
though there was no danger of his out-running them : 
and see how unanimous they were in this evil thing ; 
they ran upon him with one accord, one and all, 
hoping thereby to terrify him, and put him into 
confusion ; envying him his composvire and comfort 
in soul, with which he wonderfully enjoyed himself 
in the midst of this hurry ; they did all they could 
to ruffle him. 

6. They cast him out of the city, and stoned him; 
as if he were not worthy to live in Jerusalem ; nay 
not worthy to live in this world ; pretending herein 
to execute the law of Moses, (Lev. 24. 16.) He that 
blasfihemeth the name of the Lord, shall surely be 
put to death, all the congregation shall certainly 
stone him. And thus they had put Christ to death, 
when this same court had found him guilty of blas- 
phemy, but that, for his greater ignominy, they 
were desirous that he should be crucified, and God 
over-ruled it for the fulfilling of the scripture. The 
fury with which they managed the execution, is in- 
timated in that they cast him out of the city, as if 
they could not bear the sight of him ; they treated 
him as an anathema, as the off-scouring of all things. 
The witnesses against him were the leaders in the 
execution, according to the law, (Dent. 17. 7.) The 
hands of the ivit?iesfies shall be first ii/ion him, to fiut 
him to death, and particularly in the case of blas- 
phemv. Lev. 24. 14. Deut. 13. 9. Thus they were 
to confirm their testimony. Now the stoning of a 
man being a laborious piece of work, the witnesses 
put off their upper garments, that tliey might not 
hang in their way, and they laid them down at a 
young man^s feet, ivhose Jiame ivas Saul, now a 
pleased spectator of this tragedy ; it is the first time 
we find mention of his name, we shall know it and 
love it better when we find it changed to Paul, and 
him changed from a persecutor into a preacher. 
This little instance of his agency in Stephen's death 
he afterward reflected upon with regret ; (ch. 22. 
20.) I ke/itthe j-aiment of them that sleiv him. 

II. See the strength of grace in Stephen, and the 
wonderful instances of God's favour to him, and 
working in him. As his persecutors were full of 
Satan, so was he full of the Holy Ghost, fuller than 
ordinary, anointed with fresh oil for the combat, 
that, as the day, so might the strength be. Upon 
this account they are blessed, luho are persecuted for 
righteousness-sake, that the S/iirit of God and of 
glory rests ufion them, 2 Pet. 4. 14. When he was 
chosen to public service, he was described to be a 
ma.n full of the Holy Ghost, (ch. 6. 5.) and now that 
he is called out to martyrdom, he has still the same 
character. Note, They that are full of the Holy 
Ghost are fit for any thing, either to do for Christ, 
or to suffer for him. And those whom God calls out 
to hard services for his name, he will qualify for 
those services, and carry comfortably through them, 
bv filling them with the Holy Gliost ; that as their 
afflictions for Christ do al)ound, their consolation in 
him may yet more abound, and then none of these 
things move them. 

Now here we have a remarkable communion be- 
tween this blessed martyr and the blessed Jesus in 
this critical moment. ^Vhen the followers of Christ 
are for his sake killed all the day long, and account- 
ed as shee/i for the slaughter; does that separate 
them from the love of Christ ? Does he love them 
the less ? Do they love him the less ? No, by no 
means ; and so it appears by this story : in which 
we may observe, 

1. Christ's gracious manifestation of himself to 
Stephen, both for his comfort and for his honour, in 
the midst of his sufferings ; when they were cut to 
the heart, and gnashed upon him with their teeth, 
ready to eat him up, then he had a view of the glo- 
ry of Christ, sufficient to fill him with joy unspeaka- 



ble ; which was intended not only for his encourage- 
ment, but for the support and comfort of all God's 
suffei'ing servants in all ages. 

(1.) He, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked u/i 
steadfastly into heaven, v. 55. [1.] Thus he looked 
above the power and fury of his persecutors, and 
did as it were desjiise them, and laugh them to scorn, 
as the daughter of Zion, Isa. 37. 22. They had 
their eyes fixed upon him, full of malice and cruel- 
ty ; but he looked up to heaven, and never minded 
them ; was so taken up with the eternal life now in 
prospect, that he seemed to have no manner of con- 
cern for the natural life now at stake. Instead of 
looking about him, to see either which way he was 
in danger, or which way \tc. might make his escape, 
he looks up to heaven,; thence only comes his help, 
and thitherward his way is still open : though they 
compass him about on every side, they cannot inter- 
rupt his intercourse with heaven. Note, A belieA'- 
ing regard to God and the upper world, will be of 
great use to us, to set us above the fear of man ; for 
as far as we are under the influence of that fear we 
forget the Lord our Maker, Isa. 51. 13. [2.] Thus 
he directed his sufferings to the glory of God, to the 
honour of Christ, and did as it were appeal to hea- 
ven concerning them ; I^ord, for thy sake I suffer 
this ; and express his earnest expectation that 
Christ should be magnified in his body. Now that 
he was ready to be offered, he looks up steadfastly 
to heaven, as one willing to offer himself. [3. ] Thus 
he lifted up his soul with his eyes to God in the hea- 
vens, in pious ejaculations, calling upon God for 
wisdom and grace to carry him through this trial in 
a right manner. God has promised that he will be 
with his servants whom he calls out to suffer for 
him ; but he ivill for this be sought unto. He is 
nigh U7ito them, but it is in that which they call ufion 
him for. Is any afflicted? Let him firay. [4.] Thus 
he breathed after the heavenly country, to which 
he saw the fury of his persecutors would preseijtly 
send him. It is good for dying saints to look up 
steadfastly to heaven ; "Yonder is the place whither 
death will carry my better part, and then, death, 
where is thy sting!" [5.] Thus he made it to ap- 
pear that he was full of the Holy Ghost ; for, 
wherever the Spirit of grace dwells and works and 
reigns, he directs the eye of the soul upward. Those 
that are full of the Holy Ghost will look up stead- 
fastly to heaven, for there their heart is. [6. ] Thus 
he put himself into a posture to receive the following 
manifestation of the divine glory and grace. If we 
expect to hear from heaven, we must look up stead- 
fastly to heaven. 

(2.) He saw the glory of God ; {v. 55.) for he saw, 
in order to that, the heavens opened, v. 50. _ Some 
think his eyes were strengthened and the sight of 
them so raised above its natural pitch, by a super- 
natural jiower, that he saw into the third heavens, 
though at so vast a distance ; as Moses's sight was 
enlarged to see the whole land of Canaan. Others 
think it was a representation of the glory of God set 
before his €yes, as before Isaiah and Ezekiel ; hea- 
ven did as it were come down to him, as Rev. 21. 2. 
The heavens were opened, to give him a view of 
the happiness he was going to, that he might, in 
prospect of that, go cheerfully through death, so 
great a death. Would we by faith look up stead- 
fastly, we might see the heavens opened by the me- 
diation of Christ, the vail being rent, and a new and 
living way laid open for us into the holiest. The 
heaven is opened for the settling of a correspondence 
between God and men, that his favours and bless- 
ings may come down to us, and our prayers and 
praises may go up to him. We may also see the 
glory of God, as far as he has revealed it in his 
word ; and the sight of this will carry us through 
all the terrors of sufferings and death. 



76 



THE ACTS, VII. 



(5.) He saiv Jesua standing on the right hand of 
God ; [v. 55.) the Son of man, 90 it is, v. 56. Je- 
sus, being the Son of man, having taken our nature 
with him to heaven, and being there clothed with a 
body, might be seen witli bodily eyes, and so Ste- 
phen saw him. When the Old l^estament prophets 
saw the glory of God, it was attended with angels. 
The Shechinah or divine presence in Isaiah's vision 
pas attended with Seraphim ; in Ezekiel's vision 
witli Cherubim ; both signifying the angels, the 
ministers of God's providence. But here no men- 
tion is made of the angels, though they surround the 
tlirone and the Lamb ; instead of them Stephen sees 
Jesus at the right hand of Gr>d, the great Mediator 
of God's grace, from whom more glory redounds to 
God than from all the ministration of the holy an- 
gels. The glory of God shines brightest in the face 
of Jesus Christ ; for there shines the glor}" of his 
grace, which is the most illustrious instance of his 
glory. God appears more glorious with Jesus stand- 
ing at his riglit hand, than with millions of angels 
about him. Now, [1.] Here is a proof of the exal- 
tation of Christ to the Father's right hand ; the 
apostles saw him ascend, but they did not see him 
sit down, a cloud received him out of their sight. We 
are told that he sat down on the right hand of God ; 
but was he ever seen there ? Yes, Stephen saw him 
there, and was abundantly satisfied with the sight. 
He saw Jesus at the right hand of God, noting both 
his transcendent dignity, and his sovereign dominion, 
his uncontrollable ability, and his universal agency; 
whatever God's right hand either gives to us, or re- 
ceives from us, or does concerning us, it is by him ; 
for lie is his right Hand. [2. ] He is usually said to 
sit thei-e ; but Stephen sees him standing there, as 
one more than ordinarily concerned at present for 
his suffering servant ; he stood up as a Judge to 
plead his cause against his persecutors ; he is raised 
nfi .out of his holy habitation, (Zcch. 2. 13.) comes 
out of hw filace to punish, Isa. 26. 21. He stands 
ready to receive him and crown him, and in the 
mean time to give him a prospect of the joy set be- 
fore him. [3. ] This was intended for the encou- 
ragement of Stephen ; he sees Christ is for him, and 
then no matter who is against him. When our Lord 
Jesus was in his agony, an angel appeared to him, 
strengthening him ; but Stephen had Christ himself 
appearing to him. Note, Nothing so comfortable 
to dying saints, nor so animating to suffering saints, 
as to see Jesus at the right hand of God ; and, bless- 
ed be God, by faith we may see him there. 

(4. ) He told those about him what he saw ; {y. 
56.) Behold, I see the heavens opened. That which 
was a cordial to him, ought to have been a convic- 
tion to them, and a caution to them to take heed of 
proceeding against one whom Heaven thus smiled 
upon ; and therefore what he saiu he declared, let 
them make what use they pleased of it. If some 
■were exasperated by it, others perhaps might be 
wrought ujjon to consider this Jesus whom they per- 
secuted, and to believe in him. 

2. His pious addresses to Jesus Christ ; the mani- 
festation of God's glory to him did not set him above 
praying, but rather set him upon it ; They stoned 
Stephen, calling upon God, v. 59. Though he 
called upon God, and by that shewed himself to be 
a tnie-born Israelite, yet they proceeded to stone 
him, not considering how dangerous it is to fight 
against those that have an interest in Heaven. 
Though they stoned him, yet he called upon fiod ; 
nay, therefore he called upon him. Note, It is the 
comfort of those who are unjustly hated and perse- 
cuted by men, that they have a God to go to, a God 
all-suflficient to call upon. Men stop their ears, as 
they did here ; {v. 57. ) but God does not. Stephen 
was now cast out of the city, but he was not cast out 
from Ms God. He was now taking his leave of the 



world, and therefore calls upon God ; for we must 
do that as long as we live. Note, It is good to die 
praying ; then we need help — strength we never 
had, to do a work we never did ; and how must we 
fetch in that help and strength but by prayer ? 

Two short prayers Stephen offered up to God in 
his dying moments, and in them as it were breathed 
out his soul. 

(1.) Here is a prayer for himself; Lord Jesus, 
receive my spirit. Thus Christ had himself resigned 
his Spirit immediately into the hand of the Father. 
We are here taught to resign ours into the hands of 
Christ as Mediator, by him to be recommended to 
the Father. Stephen saw Jesus standing at the Fa- 
ther's right hand, and he thus calls to him, " Blessed 
Jesus, do that for me now, which thou standcst there 
to do for all thine, receive m}' departing spirit into 
thy hand. " Observe, 

[1.] The soul is the man, and our great concern, 
living and dying, must be about our souls. Stephen's 
body was to be miserably broken, and shattered, 
and overwhelmed with a shower of stones, the 
earthly house of this tabernacle violently beaten 
down and abused ; but, however it goes with that, 
" Lord," saith he, " let my spirit be safe ; let it go 
well with my poor soul." Thus while we live, our 
care should be, that though the body be starved or 
stripped, the soul may be fed and clothed ; though 
the body lie in pain, the soul may dwell at ease ; and 
when we die, that though the body be thrown by as 
a despised broken vessel, and a vessel in which 
there is no pleasure, yet the soul may be presented 
a vessel of honour ; that God may be the strength 
of the heart and its Portion, though the flesli fail. 

[2.] Our Lord Jesus is God, to whom we are to 
seek, and in whom we are to' confide and comfort 
ourselves living and dying. Stej^hen here prays to 
Christ, and so must we ; for it is the will cf God 
that all men should thus honour the Son, ex'CJi as 
they honour the Father. It is Christ we are to com- 
mit ourselves to, who alone is able to keep what we 
commit to him against that day : it is necessary that 
we have an eye to Christ when we come to die, for 
there is no venturing into another world but under 
his conduct ; no living comforts in dying moments, 
but Avhat are fetched from him. 

[3.] Christ's receiving our spirits at death, is the 
great thing we are to be careful about, and to com- 
fort ourselves with. We ought to be in care about 
this while we live, that Christ may receive our spi- 
rits when we die ; for if he reject and disown them, 
whither will they betake themselves ? How car. 
they escape being a prey to the roaring lion ? To 
him therefore we must commit them daily, to be 
niled and sanctified, and made meet for heaven, and 
then, and not otherwise, he will receive them. And 
if this has Ijeen our care while we live, it may be our 
comfort when we come to die, that we shall be re- 
ceived into everlasting habitations. 

(2.) Here is a jjrayer for his persecutors, v. 60. 

[1.] The circumstances of this prayer ai-e ob- 
servable, for it seems to have been offered up with 
something more of solemnity than the former. First, 
He kneeled down ; which was an expression of his 
humility in ])rayer. Secondly, He cried with a loud 
voice; which was an expression of his impoi-tunity. 
But why should he thus shew more humility and im- 
portunity in this request than in the former ? The 
answer is this. None could doubt of his being in good 
earnest in his prayers for himself, Jind therefore 
there he needed not to use such outward expressions 
of it ; but in his jjrayer for his enemies, because that 
is so much against the grain of cornipt nature, it 
was requisite he should give proofs of his being in 
earnest. 

[2.] The prayerMtself ; Lord, lay not this sin to 
their charge ; therein he followed the example of 



THE ACTS, VIII. 



77 



his dying Master, who prayed thus for his persecu- 
tors, Father, forgirve them ; and set an example to 
all following sufferers in the cause of Christ, thus to 
pray for those that persecute them. Prayer may 
preach ; this did so to those who stoned Stephen ; 
and therefoi-e he kneeled down, that they might take 
notice he was going to pray, and cried with a loud 
voice, that they might take notice of what he said, 
and might learn, First, That what they did was a 
sin, a great sin, which, if divine mercy and grace 
did not prevent, would be laid to their charge, to 
their everlasting confusion. Seco?idly, That, not- 
withstanding their malice and fury against him, he 
^vas in chanty with them, and was so far from de- 
siring that God would avenge his death upon them, 
that it was his hearty prayer to God, that it might 
not in any degree be laid to their charge. A sad 
reckoning there would be for it ; if they did not re- 
pent, it would certainly be laid to their charge ; but 
he, for his part, did not desire the woful day. Let 
them take notice of this, and when their thoughts 
were cool, surely they would not easily forgive them- 
selves putting him to death, who could so easily for- 
give them. The blood-thirsty hale the u/iright, but 
the just seek his soul, Prov. 29. 10. Thirdly, That, 
though the sin was very heinous, yet they must not 
despair of the pardon of it, upon their repentance. 
If they would lay it to their hearts, God would not 
lay it to their charge. "Do you think, saith St. 
Austin, that Paul heard Stephen pray this prayer ? 
It is likely he did, saith he, and ridiculed it then ; 
{audivit subsa?inans, sed irrisit — he heard ivith 
scorn ;) but afterward he had the benefit of it, and 
fared the better for it." 

3. His expiring with this ; Ji'he?i he had said this, 
he fell asleefi ; or, as he was saying this, the blow 
came, that was mortal. Note, Death is but a sleep 
to good people ; not the sleep of the soul, (Stephen 
had given that up into Christ's hand,) but the sleep 
of the body ; it is its rest from all its griefs and toils, 
it is perfect ease and indolence. Steplien died as 
much in a hurry as ever any man did, and yet, when 
he died, he fell asleep ; he applied himself to his 
dying work with as much composure of mind as if he 
had been going to sleep ; it was but closing his eyes, 
and dying. Observe, He fell asleep when he was 
praying for his persecutors ; it is expressed as if he 
thought he could not die in jjeace till he had done 
that. It contributes very much to our dying com- 
fortably, to die in charity with all men ; we are then 
found of Christ in peace ; let not the sun of life go 
down upon our wrath. He fell asleep ; the vulgar 
Latin adds, in the Lord; in the embraces of his 
love. If he thus sleep, he shall do well ; he shall 
awake again in the morning of the resurrection. 

CHAP. VIII. 

In this chapter, we have an account of the persecutions of the 
christians, and the propasraling of Christianity thereby. It 
was strancje, but very true, tliat the disciples of Christ, the 
more they were alHicted tlic more they multiplied. I. Here 
IS the church sufferin<r; upon the occasion of putting Ste- 
phen to death, a very sharp storm arose, which forced many 
from Jerusalem, v. 1 . . 3. II. Here is the church spreading 
by the ministry of Philip and others, that were dispersed 
upon that occasion. We have here, 1. The gospel brought 
to Samaria; preached there; (v. 4, 5.) embraced there, 
(v. 6 . . 8.) even by Simon Masus ; (v. 9. . 13.) the frift of 
the Holy Ghost conferred upon some of the believing Sa- 
maritans by the imposition of the hands of Peter and John ; 
(v. 14 . . 17.) and the severe rebuke given by Peter to Simon 
Masrus for bidding money for a power to bestow that gift, 
V. 18. . 25. 2. The gospel sent to Ethiopia, by the Eunuch, 
a person of quality of that country ; he is returning home 
in his chariot from Jerusalem, v. 26 . . 28. Philip is sent to 
him, and in his chariot preaches Christ to him, (v. 29 . . 35. ) 
baptizes him upon his profession of the christian faith, (v. 
36 . . 38.) and then leaves him, v. 39, 40. Thus in different 
ways and methods the gospel Was dispersed among the 
nations, and, one way or other, Have they not all heard ? 



L A ND Saul was consenting unto his 
J\. death. And at that time there 
was a great persecution against the church 
which was at Jerusalem ; and they were 
all scattered abroad throughout the regions 
of Judea and Samaria, except the apos- 
tles. 2. And devout men carried Stephen 
to his huriaU and made great lamentation 
over him. 3. As for Saul, he made havock 
of the church, entering into every house, 
and haling men and women, committed 
them to prison. 

In these verses, we have, 

I. Something more concerning Stephen and his 
death ; how people stood affected to it ; variously, 
as generally in such cases, according to men's differ- 
ent sentiments of things. Christ had told his dis- 
ciples, when he was parting with them, (John 16. 
20.) Ye shall iveefi and lament, but the tvorld shall 
rejoice. Accordingly here is, 

1. Stephen's death rejoiced in by one ; by many, 
no doubt, but by one in particular, and that wix? 
Saul, who was afterward called Paul ; he was con- 
senting to his death, triiyiuSoiZy — he consented to it 
ivith delight ; so the word signifies ; he was pleased 
with it, he fed his eyes with this bloody spectacle, 
in hopes it would put a stop to the growth of Chris- 
tianity. We have reason to think that Paul ordered 
Luke to insert this, for shame to himself, and glory 
to free grace. Thus he owns himself guilty of the 
blood of Stephen, and aggravates it with this, that 
he did not do it with regret and reluctanc)-, but with 
delight and a full satisfaction ; like those who not 
only do such things, but have pleasure in them that- 
do them. 

2. Stephen's death bewailed by others; {v. 2.) 
Devout men, which some understand of those that 
were properly so called, proselytes, one of whom 
Stephen himself, probably, was. Or, it may be 
taken more largely ; some of the church that were 
more devout and' zealous than the rest, went, and 
gathered up the poor crushed and broken remains, 
to which thev Rave a decent interment ; probably 
in the Jield of blood, which was bought some time 
ago to bury strangers in. They buried him solemnly, 
and made great lamentation over him. Though his 
death was of great advantage to himself, and great 
service to the church, yet they bewailed it as a ge- 
neral loss, so well qualified was he for the service, 
and so likely to be useful both as a deacon and as a 
disputant. It is an ill symptom, if, when such men 
arc taken awav, it is net laid to heart. Those de- 
vout men paid these their last respects to Stephen, 
(1.) To shew that tluy were not ashamed of the 
cause for which he suffered, nor ashamed of the 
wrath of those tha.t were enemies to it ; for, though 
they now ti'iumph, tlie cHuse is a righteous cause, 
and will be at last a victnrif iis one. (2.) To shew 
the great value and esteem tluy had for this faithful 
servant of Jesus Christ, this first martyr for the gos- 
pel, whose memory shall always he precious to them, 
notwithstanding the isrncminy of his death. They 
study to do honour to him, whom God put honour 
upon. (3.) To testify their belief and hope of the 
resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to 
come. 

II. An account of this persecution of the church, 
which begins upon the martyrdom of Stephen. 
When the fun' of the Jews ran with such violence, 
and to such a height, against Stephen, it could not 
quickly either stop itself, or spend itself The 
bloodv are often in scripture called blood-thirsty ; 
for w-hen they have tasted blood they thirst for 



78 



THE ACTS, VIII. 



more. One would have thought Stephen's dying 
prayers and dying comforts should have overcome 
them, and melted them into a better opinion of chris- 
tians and Christianity ; but it seems it did not, the 
persecution goes on ; for, 1. They were more ex- 
asperated, when they saw they could prevail no- 
thing ; and, as if they hoped to be too hard for God 
himself, they resolve to follow their blow ; and per- 
haps, because they were none of them struck, dead 
upon the place for stoning Stephen, their hearts 
were the more fully set in them to do evil. 2. Per- 
haps the disciples were the more imboldened to dis- 
pute against them as Stephen did, seeing how trium- 
phantly he finished his course, which would provoke 
them so much the more. Observe, 

(1.) Against whom this persecution was raised ; 
it was against the church in Jerusalem, wliich is no 
sooner planted than it is persecuted ; as Christ often 
intimated that tribulation and persecution would 
arise because of the ivord. And Christ had parti- 
cularly foretold that Jerusalem would soon be made 
too hot for his followers, for that city had been fa- 
mous for killing the prophets, and stoning them that 
were sent to it. Matt. 23. 57. It should seem that 
in this persecution many were put to death, for Paul 
owns that at this time he persecuted this way unto 
the death, (ch. 22. 4.) and {ch. 26. 10.) that when 
they rvere fiut to death he gave his voice against 
them. 

(2. ) Who was an active man in it ; none so zealous, 
so busv, as Saul, a young Pharisee, v. 3. As for 
Saul, (who had been twice mentioned before, and 
now again for a notorious persecutor,) he 7nade ha- 
vock of the church; he did all he could to lay it 
waste and ruin it ; he cared not what mischief he 
did to the disciples of Christ, nor knew when to take 
up. He aimed at no less than the cutting off the 
Gospel-Israel, that the name of it should be no more 
in remembrance, Ps. 83. 4. He was the fittest tool 
the chief priests could find out to serve their pur- 
poses ; he was informer-general against the disciples, 
a messenger of the great council to be employed in 
searchine; for meetings, and seizing all that were 
suspected to favour that way. Saul was bred a 
scholar, a gentleman, and yet did not think it below 
him to be employed in the vilest work of that kind. 
[1.] He entered into ex'ery house, making no diffi- 
culty of breaking open doors, night or day, and hav- 
ing a force attending him for that puipose. He 
entered into every house wher^ they used to keep 
their meetings, orevery house that had any christians 
in it, or was thought to have. No man could be se- 
cure in his own house, though it is his castle. [2.] 
He haled, with the utmost contempt and cruelty, 
both men and women, dragged them along the 
streets, without any regard to the tenderness of the 
weaker sex ; he stooped so low as to take cognizance 
of the meanest that were leavened with the gospel, 
so extremely bigoted was he. [3.] He committed 
them to prison, in order to their being tried and put 
to death, unless they would renounce Christ ; and 
some, we find, were compelled bv him to blaspheme, 
ch. 26. 11. 

(3.) What was the effect of this persecution. 

Thev were all scattered abroad; {v. 1.) not all 
the believers, but all tlic preachers ; who were jjrin- 
cipally struck at, and against whom warrants were 
issued out to take them up. They, remembering 
our Master's rule, f JVhen they ficrsecute you in one 
city, flee to another, ) dis])ersed themselves by agree- 
ment throughout the regions of Jndta, and of Sama- 
ria ; not so much for fear of sufferings, (for Judea 
and Samaria were not so far off from Jeiusalem but 
that, if they made a public appearance there, as 
they determined to do, their persecutors' power 
would soon reach them there,) but because they 
^ looked upon this as an intimation of Providence to 



them to scatter ; their work was pretty well done 
in Jerusalem, and now it was time to think of the 
necessities of other places : for their Master had 
told them that they must be his witnesses in Jeru- 
salem first, and then ?« all Judea and in Samaria, 
and then to the uttermost /larts of the earth, {ch. 
1. 8.) and that method they observe. Though per- 
secution may not dri\ e us off" from, our work, yet it 
may send us, as a hint of Providence, to work else- 
where. 

The preachers were all scattered except the afios- 
tles, who, probably, w-ere directed by the Spirit to 
continue at Jerusalem yet for some time, they being, 
by the special providence of God, screened from 
the storm, and by the special grace of God enabled 
to face the storm. Tliey tarried at Jerusiilem, that 
they might be ready to go where their assistance 
was most needed by the other preachers that were 
sent to break the ice ; as Christ ordered his disciples 
to go to those places where he himself designed to 
come, Luke 10. 1. The apostles continued longer 
together at Jeinisalem than one would have thought, 
considering the command and commission given 
them, to go into all the world, and to disci/ile all na- 
tions ; see ch. 15. 6. Gal. 1. 17. But what was done 
by the evangelists whom they sent forth, was reck- 
oned as done by them. 

4. Therefore they that were scattered 
abroad, went every where preaching the 
word. 5. Then PhiHp went down to the 
city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto 
them. 6. And the people with one accord 
gave heed unto those things which Phihp 
spake, hearing and seeing the miracles 
which he did. 7. For unclean spirits, cry- 
ing with a loud voice, came out of many 
that were possessed icith them : and many 
taken with palsies, and that were lame, 
were healed. 8. And there was great joy 
in that city. 9. But there was a certain 
man called Simon, which before-time in 
the same city used sorcery, and bewitched 
the people of Samaria, giving out that him- 
self was some great one. 10. To whom 
they all gave heed from the least to the 
greatest, saying. This man is the great 
power of God. 1 1. And to him they had 
regard, because that of long time he had 
bewitched them with sorceries. 12. But 
when they believed Philip, preaching the 
things concerning the kingdom of God, and 
the name of Jesus Christ, they were bap- 
tized both men and women. 13. Then 
Simon himself believed also; and when he 
was baptized, he continued with Philip, and 
wondered, beholding the miracles and signs 
which were done. 

Samson's riddle is here again unriddled ; Out of the 
eater comes forth meat, and out of the strong sweet- 
ness. The persecution that was designed to extii-pate 
the church, was by the overruling providence of God 
made an occasion of the enlargement of it. Christ 
had said, / am come to send fire on the earth ; and 
they thought, by scattering those who were kindled 
with that fire, to have put it out, but instead of that 
they did but help to spread it. 

I. Here is a general account of what was done bv 



THE ACTS, Vm. 



79 



them all ; (v. 4.^ TTiey went every ivhere, preach- 
ing the word. 1 hey did not go to hide themselves 
for fear of suffering, no nor to shew themselves as 
proud of their sufferings ; but they went up and 
down, to scatter the knowledge of Christ in every 
place where they were scattered. They went every 
where, into the way of the Gentiles, and the cities 
of the Samaritans, which before they were forbidden 
to go into, ch. 10. 5. They did not keep together in 
a body, though that might have been a strength to 
them, but they scattered into all parts ; not to take 
their ease, but to find out work. They went evan- 
gelizing the world, preaching the word of the gospel; 
that was it which filled them, and which they en- 
deavoured to fill the country with, those of them 
that were preachers, in their preaching, and others 
in their common converse. They were now in a 
country where they were no strangers, for Christ 
and his disciples had conversed much in the regions 
of Judea ; so that they had a foundation laid there 
for them to build upon ; and it would be requisite to 
let the people there know what that doctrine AvhJch 
Jesus had preached there some time ago was come 
to, and that it was not lost and forgotten, as perhaps 
they were made to believe. 

II. A particular account of what was done by Phi- 
lip. We shall hear of the progress and success of 
others of them afterward, {ch. 11. 19.) but here 
must attend the motions of Philip, not Philip the 
apostle, but Philip the deacon, who was chosen and 
ordained to serve tables, but having iised the office 
of a deacon well, he purchased to himself a good de- 
gree, and great boldness in the faith, 1 Tim. 3. 13. 
Stephen was advanced to the degree of a martyr, 
Philip to the degree of an evangelist, which when 
he entered upon, being obliged by it to give himself 
to the word and prayer, he was, no doubt, discharg- 
ed from the office of a deacon ; for how could he serve 
tables at Jerusalem, which by that office he was 
obliged to do, when he was preaching in Samaria ? 
And it is probable that two others were chosen in 
the room of Stephen and Philip. Now observe, 

1. What wonderful success Philip had in his 
preaching, and what reception he met with. 

(1.) The place he chose, was, the city of Samariai 
the head-city of Samaria, the metropolis of that 
country, which stood there where the city of Sama- 
ria had formerly stood, which we read of^the build- 
ing of, 1 Kings 16. 24. now called Sebaste. Some 
thmk it was the same with Sychem or Sychar, that 
city of Samaria where Christ v/as, John 4. 5. Many 
of that city then believed^ in Christ, though he did 
no miracles among them ; {v. 39, 41.) and now Phi- 
lip, three years after, carries on the work then be- 
gun. The Jews would have no dealings with the 
Samaritans ; but Christ sent his gospel to slay all 
enmities, and particularly that between the Jews 
and the Samaritans, by making them one in his 
church. 

(2.) The doctrine he preached, was, Christ; for 
he determined to know nothing else. He preached 
Christ to them, he proclaimed Christ to them, so 
the word signifies ; as a king, when he comes to the 
crown, is proclaimed throughout his dominions. The 
Samaritans had an expectation of the Messiah's 
coming, as appears by John 4. 25. Now Philip tells 
them that he is come, and that the Samaritans are 
welcome to him. Ministers' business is to preach 
Christ ; Christ, and him cinicified ; Christ, and him 
glorified. 

(3.) The proofs he produced for the confirmation 
of his doctrine, were, miracles, t. 6. To convince 
them that he had his commission from heaven, (and 
therefore not only they might venture upon what he 
said, but they were bound to yield to it,) he shews 
them this broad seal of heaven annexed to it, which 
the God of truth would never put to a lie. The mi- 



racles were undeniable, they heard and saw the 
miracles which he did ; they heard the commanding 
words he spake, and saw the amazing effect of them 
immediately ; that he spake, and it was done. And 
the nature of the miracles was such as suited the 
intention of his commission, and gave light and lus- 
tre to it 

[1.] He was sei.t to break the power of Satan; 
and, in token of that, unclean spirits, being charged 
in the name of the Lord Jesus to remove, carne out 
of many that were possessed with them, v. 7. As 
mr as the gospel prevails, Satan is forced to quit his 
hold of men and his interest in them, and then those 
are restored to themselves and to their right mind 
again, who, while he kept possession, were distract- 
ed. Wherever the gospel gains the at/mission and 
swimission it ought to have, evil spirits are dislodged, 
and particularly unclean spirits, all inclinations to 
the lusts of the flesh, which war against the soul ; for 
God has called us from uncleanness to holiness, 1 
Thess. 4. 7. This was signified by the casting of 
these unclean spirits out of the bodies of people, who, 
it is here said, came out crying with a loud voice, 
which signifies that they came out with great reluc- 
tancy, and sore against their wills, but were forced 
to acknowledge themselves overcome by a superior 
power, Mark 1. 26. — 3. 11. — 9. 26. 

[2. ] He was sent to heal the minds of men, to cure 
a distempered world, and to put it into a good state 
of health ; in token of that, majiy that were taken 
with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. Those 
distempers are specified, that were most difficult to 
be cured by the course of nature, (that the miracu- 
lous cure might be the more illustrious,) and those 
that were most expressive of the disease of sin, and 
that moral impotency which the souls of men labour 
under as to the service of God. The grace of God 
in the gospel is designed for the healing of those that 
are spiritually lame and paralytic, and cannot help, 
themselves, Rom. 5. 6. 

(4.) The acceptance which Philip's doctrine, thus 
proved, met with in Samaria; {v. 6.) The people 
with one accord gave heed to those things which 
Philip sfuike ; induced thereto by the miracles which 
served at first to gain attention, and so by degrees to 
gain assent. There then begins to be some hopes 
of people, when they begin to take notice of what is 
said to them concerning the things of their souls and 
eternity ; when they begin to give heed to the word 
of God, as those that are well pleased to hear it, de- 
sirous to understand and remember it, and that look 
upon themselves as concerned in it. The common 
people gave heed to Philip, li ox>^oi — a multitude of 
them, not here and there one, but with one accord ; 
they were all of a mind, that the doctrine of the gos- 
pel was fit to be inquired into, and an impartial hear 
ing given to it. 

(5.) The satisfaction they had in attending on, and 
attending to, Philip's preaching, and the success it 
had with many of them ; (v. 8.) There zvas great 
Joy in that city, for, {v. 12.) They believed Philip, 
and were bafitizcd, into the faith of Christ, the ge- 
nerality of them, both men and ivomen. Observe, 
[1.] Philip nrea-chcd the thi?igs concerning the king- 
dom of Goa, the constitution of that kingdom, the 
laws and ordinances of it, the liberties and privileges 
of it, and the obligations we are all under to be the 
loyal subjects of that kingdom ; and he preached the 
name of Jesus Christ, as King of that kingdom ; his 
name, which is above every name, he preached it 
up in its commanding power and influence ; all that 
by which he has made himself known. [2.] The 

{)eople not only gave heed to what he said, but at 
ength believed it ; were fully convinced that it was 
of God, and not of men, and gave up themselves to 
the conduct and government of it. As to this moun- 
tain, on which they had hitherto worshipped God, <► 



80 



THE ACTS, Vlll. 



and placed a great deal of religion in it, they were 
now as much weaned from it as ever they had been 
wedded to it, and become the true worshippers, vjho 
worship the Father in spirit and i?i truth, and in the 
name of Christ, the _ true Temple, John 4. 20, 23. 
[3. ] \\ hen they believed, without scioiple (though 
they were Samaritans) and without delay they tvere 
baptized, openly professed the christian faith, pro- 
mised to adhere to it, and tlien, by washing them 
with water, were solemnly admitted into the com- 
munion of the christian church, and owned as bre- 
thren by the disciples. Men only were capable of 
being admitted into the Jewish church by circumci- 
sion ; but, to shew that in Jesus Christ there is nei- 
ther male nor female, (Gal. 3. 28.) but both are alike 
welcome to him, the initiating ordinance is such as 
women are capable of, for they are Jiumbered with 
God's spiritual Israel, though not with Israel ac- 
cording to the Jiesh, Numb. 1. 2. And from hence 
it is easily gathered, that women are to be admitted 
to the Lord's supper, though it does not appear that 
there were any among those to whom it was first 
administered. [4. ] This occasioned great joy ; each 
one rejoiced for himself, as he in the parable, who 
found the treasure hid m the field ; and they all re- 
joiced for the benefit hereby brought to their city, 
and that it came without opposition ; which it would 
scarcely have done, if Samaria had been within the 
jurisdiction of the chief priests. Note, The bring- 
ing of the gospel to any place is just matter of joy, 
oi great joy, to that place. Hence the spreading of 
the gospel in the world, is often prophesied of in the 
Old Testament, as the diffusing oi joy among the 
nations ; Ps. 67. 4. Let the nations be glad, ana sing 
for joy, 1 Thess. 1. 6. The gospel of Christ does 
not make men melancholy, but fills them with joy, 
if it be received as it should be ; for it is glad tidings 
of great joy to all people, Luke 2. 10. 

2. What there was in particular at this city of Sa- 
maria, that made. the success of the gospel there 
more than ordinary wonderful. 

(1.) That Simon Magus had been busy there, and 
had gained a great interest among the people, and 
yet they believed the things that Philip spake. To 
unlearn that which is bad, proves many times a 
harder task than to learn that which is good. These 
Samaritans, though they were not idolaters as the 
Gentiles, nor prejudiced against the gospel by tra- 
ditions received from their fathers, yet they had of 
late been drawn to follow Simon a conjurer, (for so 
Magus signifies,) who made a mighty noise among 
them, and had strangely bewitched them. 

We are here told, 

[1.] How strong the delusion of Satan was, by 
which they were brought into the interests of this 
great deceiver ; he had been for some time, nay for 
u lo7ig time, in this city, using sorceries ; yierhaps he 
came thither by the instigation of the Devil, soon 
after our Saviour had been there, to undo what he 
had been cloin;^ there ; for it was always Satan's way 
to crush a good work in its bud and infancy, 1 Cor. 
11. 3. 1 Thess. 3. 5. Now, 

First, Simon assumed to himself that which was 
considei-al)le ; he gave out that himself was some 
great one, and would have all people to Ijclieve so, 
and to ]iav him respect accordingly ; and then, as to 
every thing else, they might do as they pleased ; he 
liad no design to reform their lives, or improve their 
worship and devotion, only to make them believe 
that he was, t/c /u«/af — some divine person. Justin 
Martin says that he would be worshipjjcd as, ^gr.Tor 
5-4C/ — the chief god. He gave out himself to l)c the 
Son of God, the Messiah, so some think ; or to be an 
angel, or a prophet ; perhaps he was \nicertain with- 
in himself what title of honour to pretend to ; Init lie 
would be thought some great one. Pride, ambition, 
* and an affectation of grandeur, have always been the 



cause of abimdance of mischief, both to the world 
and to the church. 

Secondly, The people ascribed to him what he 
pleased. 1. They all gave heed to him, from the 
least to the greatest ; both young and old, both poor 
and rich, both governors and governed ; to him they 
had regard, {y. 10, 11.) and perhaps the more, be- 
cause the time fixed for the coming of the Messiah 
was now expired ; which liad raised a general ex- 
pectation of the appearing of some great one about 
this time. Probably, he was a native of their coun- 
try, and therefore they embraced him the more 
cheerfully, that by giving honour to him they might 
reflect it upon themselves. 2. They said of liim, 
This man is the great power of God ; the power of 
God, that great power ; (so it might be read ;) that 
power which made the world. See liow ignorant 
inconsiderate people mistake that which is done by 
the power of Satan, as if it were done by the power 
of God ! Thus, in the Gentile world, dc\ils pass for 
deities ; and in the antichristian kingdom all the 
world wonders after a beast, to whom the dragon 
gives his power, and who opens his mouth in blas- 
phemy against God, Rev. 13. 2, 3. 3. Tliey were 
brought to it by his sorceries ; he bewitched the people 
of Samaria, (v. 9. ) bewitched them tvith sorceries, (x>. 
11.) that is, either, (1.) By his magic arts he be- 
witched the minds of the people, at least some of 
them, who drew in others. Satan, by God's per- 
mission, filled their hearts to follow Simon. O fool- 
ish Galatians, saith Paul, who hath bewitched you ? 
Gal. 3. 1. These people are said to be bewitched 
by Simon, because they were so strangely infatuated 
to believe a lie. Or, (2.) By his magic arts he did 
many signs and lying wonders^ which seemed to be 
miracles, but really were not so ; like those of the 
magicians of Eg;ypt, and those of the man of sin, 2 
Thess. 2. 9. When they knew no better, they were 
influenced by his sorceries ; but when they were ac- 
quainted with Philip's real miracles, they saw plainly 
that the one was real and the other a sham, and that 
there was as much difference as between Aaron's 
rod and those of the magicians : IVhat is the chaff to 
the wheat? Jer. 23. 28. 

Thus, notwithstanding the influence Simon Magus 
had had upon them, and the loathness there gene- 
rally is in people to own themselves in an error, and 
to retract it, yet, when they saw the difference be- 
tween Simon and Philip, they quitted Simon, gave 
heed no longer to him, but to Philip : and thus you 
see, 

[2.] How strong the power of divine grace is, by 
which tliey were brought to Christ, who is Tioith 
itself, and was, as I may say, the great Undeceiver. 
By that grace working with the woi-d, they that had 
been led capti\e by Satan, were brought into obedi- 
ence to Christ. \\'licre Satan, as a strong man 
armed, kept possession of the palace, and thought 
liimself safe, Clirist, as a stronger than he, dispos- 
sessed him, and dix'ided the spoil ; led captivity cap- 
tij'c, and made those the trophies of his victory, 
whom the Devil had trium])hed over. Let us not 
despair of the worst, when even those whom Simon 
Magus had bewitched were brought to believe. 

(2.) Here is another thing yet more wonderful, 
that Simon Magus himself liorame a convert to the 
faith of Christ, in shew and (profession, for a time. 
Is Saul also among the firo/ihefs? Yes, (7-. 13.) Si- 
mon himself belici'cd also; he was convinced that 
Philip prcaclied a tnie doctrine, because he saw it 
confirmed by real miracles, which he was the better 
able to )vide;e of, l)ecause he was conscious to liim- 
self of the trick of his own pretended ones. [].] 
The present conviction went so far, tliat he was bap- 
tized, was admitted, as other l)elievers were, into 
the church, bv baptism ; and we have no reason to 
think that Philip did amiss in baptizing him ; no, v.or 



THE ACTS, Vlll. 



Bl 



in baptizing him quickly. Though he had been a i 
,'ery wicked man, a sorcerer, a pretender to divine 
honours, yet, upon his solemn profession of repen- j 
tance for his sin and faith in Jesus Christ, he was 
baptized. For, as great wickedness before conver- 
sion keeps not true penitents from the benefit of 
God's grace, so neither should it keep professing 
ones from church-fellowship. Prodigals, when they 
return, must be joyfully welcomed home, though we 
cannot be sure but that they will play the prodigal 
again. Nay, though he was now but a hypocrite, 
and reallv in the gall of bitterness and bond of ini- 
quitii all this while, and would soon have been found 
to be so if he had been tried a while, yet Pliilip bap- 
tized him ; for it is God's prerogative to know the 
heart : the church and its ministers must go by a 

J"udgment of cluii-ity, as far as there is room for it. 
t is a maxim in the law. Donee contrarium jiatet, 
semfier fireesumitur meliori parti — We jnust hope the 
best as long as nve can. And it is a maxim of the 
discipline of the church, De secretis non judical ec- 
clesia — The secrets of the heart God only Judges. 
[2.] The present conviction lasted so long, that he 
continued with Philip ; though afterward he aposta- 
tized from Christianity, yet not quickly. He courted 
Philip's acquaintance ; and now he that had given 
out himself to be some great one, is content to sit at 
the feet of a preacher ot the gospel. Even bad men, 
very bad, may sometimes be in a good frame, very , 
good ; and they whose hearts still go after their co- 
vetousness, may possibly not only come before God 
as his people come, but continue with them. [3.] 
The present conviction was wrought and kept up 
by the miracles ; he ivondered to see himself so far 
outdone in signs and miracles. Many wonder at the 
proofs of divine truths, who never experience the 
power of them. 

14. Now when the apostles which were 
at Jerusalem, heard that Samaria had re- 
ceived the word of God, they sent unto them 
Peter and John. 1 5. Who, when they were 
come down, prayed for them that they 
might receive the Holy Ghost. 16. (For 
as yet he was fallen upon none of them : 
only they were baptized in tlie name of the 
Lord Jesus:) 17. Then laid they their 
hands on them, and they received the Holy 
Ghost. 18. And when Simon saw that 
through laying on of the apostles' hands the 
Holy Ghost was given, he offered them 
money, 19. Saying, Give me also this 
power, that on whomsoever T lay hands, he 
may receive the Holy Ghost. 20. But Pe- 
ter said unto him. Thy money perish with 
thee, because thou hast thought that the 
gift of God may be purchased with money. 
21. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this 
matter : for thy heart is not right in the sight 
of God. 22. Repent therefore of this thy 
wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the 
thought o{ thine heart may be forgiven thee. 

23. For I perceive that thou art in the gall 
of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. 

24. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray 
ye to the Lord for me, that none of these 
things which ye have spoken come upon 
me. 25. And they, when they had testi 

Vol. VI. — L 



fied and preached the word of the Lord, pc- 
turned to Jerusalem, and preached the gos- 
pel in many villages of the Samaritans. 

God had wonderfully owned Philip in his work as 
an evangelist at Samaria, but he could do no more 
than an evangelist; there were some peculiar jjowers 
reserved to the a])ostles, for the keei)ing up of tlic 
dignity of their office, and here we have an account 
of what was done liy two of them tliere — Peter and 
John. The twelve kept togctlier at Jerusalem, (t. 
1.) and thitlier these good tidings were brought 
them, that Samaria had received the nvord of God, 
{v. 14.) that a great harvest of souls was gathered, 
and was likely to be gathered in to Christ there. 
The ivord of God was' not only preached to them, 
but receix'td by them ; they bid it welcome, admitted 
the light of it, and submitted to the power of it. 
]\'hen they heard it, they sent tinto them Peter and 
John. If Peter had been, as some say he was, the 
prince of the apostles, he would have sent some ol 
them, or, if he had seen cause, would have gone 
himself of his own accord ; but he was so far from 
that, that he submitted to an order of the house, and, 
as a servant to the body, went whither they sent 
him. Two apostles were sent, the two niost emi- 
nent, to Samaria, 1. To encourage Pliilip, to assist 
him, and strengthen his hands. Ministers in a liigher 
station, and that excel in gifts and graces, sho\ild 
contrive how they may be helpful to those in a lower 
sphere, and contribute to their comfort and useful- 
ness. 2. To carry on the good work tluit was Ijcgun 
among the people, and, with those heavenly graces 
that had enriched them, to confer upon them spi- 
ritual gifts. Now observe, 

I. How they adAanced and improved those of them 
that were sincere; it is said, (t'. 16.) The Holy 
Ghost was as yet fallen upon none of th&m, in those 
extraordinary powers which were conveyed by the 
descent of the Spirit upon the day ofpentec^^st ; they 
were none of them endued with tlie gift of tongues, 
which seems then to have been the most usual, im- 
mediate effect of the pouring out of the Spirit. See 
ch. 10. 45, 46. This was both an eminent sign to 
them which believed not, and of excellent service 
to them that did. This, and other such gifts, they 
had not, only they ivere baptized in the name of the 
Lord .Tesus, anA so engaged to him and interested 
in him, which was necessary to salvation, and in that 
thev had joy and satisfaction, (t. 8.) though they 
could not speak with tongues. They that are in- 
deed i';i\en up to Christ, and have experienced the 
sanctifving influences and operations of the Spirit of 
grace, ha\e great reason to be thankful, and no rea- 
son to complain, though they have not those gifts 
that are for ornament, and would make them bright. 

But it is intended that they should go on to the 
perfection of the present dispensation, for the greater 
Jionour of the gospel. We have reason to think that 
Philij) had received these gifts of the Holy (ihost 
himself, but had not a power to confer them, the 
apostles must come to do that; and they did it not 
upon all that were baptized, but upon some of them, 
and it should seem, such as were designed for some 
office in the church, or at least to be eminent active 
members of it ; and upon some of them, one gift of 
the Holy Ghost, and upon others, another. See 1 
Cor. 12." 4, 8.— 14. 26. 

Now, in order to this, 

1. The apostles prayed for them, v. 15. The 
Spirit is given, not to ourselves only ; (Luke 11. 13.) 
but to others also, in answer to prayer; Iivi/lpuc 
my Spirit within you, (Ezek. 36. 27.) but I will for 
this be inquired of, v. o7. We may take encourage 
ment from this example, in pravmg to God to grve 
the renewing graces of the Holy Ghost to them v, hoi>e 



82 



TH/: ACTS, Vlll. 



E 



spiritual welfiire we are concerned for ; for cur chil- . 
dfen, for our friends, for our ministers ; we should 
pray, and pray earnestly, that they may receive the 
Holy Ghost ; for that includes all blessings. 

2. They laid their hands on them, to signify that 
their prayers were answered, and that the gift of 
the Holy Ghost was conferred n/ion them; for, upon 
the use of this sign, they received the Holy Ghost, 
and sjiakc with tongues. The laying on of hands 
was anciently used in blessing, by those who blessed 
with authority. Thus the apostles blessed these 
new converts, ordained some to be ministers, and 
confirmed others in their Christianity. We cannot 
now, nor can any thus give the Holy Ghost by the 
laying on of hands ; but this ma)' intimate to us, that 
those whom we pray for we should use our endea- 
vours with. 

II. How they discovered and discarded him that 
was a hypocrite among them, and that was Simon 
Magus ; for they knew how to separate between the 
precious and the vile. Now oljserve here, 

1. The wicked proposal that Simon made, by 
which his hypocrisy was discovered; {y. 18, 19.) 
lllien he saw that through laying on of the apostles' 
hands, the Holy Ghost was given, (which should 
have confirmed his faith in the doctrine of Christ, 
and increased his veneration for the apostles,) it 
gave him a notion of Christianity as no other than an 
exalted piece of sorcery, in which he thought him- 
self capable of being equal to the apostles, and there- 
fore offered them money, saying, Grve me also this 
power. He does not desire them to lay their hands 
on him, that he might receive the Holy Ghost him- 
self, (for he did not foresee that any thing was to be 
got by that,) but tliat they would convey to him a 
)ower to bestow the gift upon others. He was am- 
bitious to have the honour of an apostle, but not at 
all solicitous to have the spirit and disposition of a 
christian. He was more desirous to gain honour to 
himself than to do good to others. Now, in making 
tl is motion, (1.) He put a great affront upon the 
ajiostles, as if they were mercenary men, would do 
any thing for money, and loved it as well as he did ; 
whereas they had left what they had, for Christ, so 
far were they from aiming to make it more ! (2. ) 
He put a great affront upon Christianity, as if the 
miracles that were wrought for the proof of it, were 
done by magic art, only of a different nature from 
what he himself had practised formerly. (3.) He 
shewed that, like Balaam, he aimed at the rewards 
of divination ; for he would not have bid money for 
this power, if he had not hoped to get money by it. 
(4. ) He shewed that he had a very high conceit of 
himself, and that he had never his heart truly hum- 
bled. Such a wretch as he had been before his bap- 
tism should have asked, like the prodigal, to be made 
as one of the hired servants. But as soon as he is 
admitted into the family, no less a jilace will serve 
him than to be one of the stewards of the household, 
and to be intrusted with a power which Philip him- 
self had not, but the apostles only. 

2. The just rejection of his proposal, and the cut- 
ting reproof Peter gave him for it, v. 20 — 23. 

(1.) Peter shews him his crime; {v. 20.) Thou 
hast thought that the gift of God Tnay be purchased 
with mo)iey ; and tlms, [1.] He had overvalued the 
wealth of this world, as if it were an equivalent for 
any thing, and as if, because, as Solomon saith, it an- 
swers all things relating to the life that now is, it 
would answer all things relating to the other life, 
and would purchase the pardon of sin, the gift of the 
Holy Ghost, and eternal life. [2.] He had under- 
valued the gift of the Holy Ghost, and put it upon a 
level with tlie common gifts of natvu'e and provi- 
dence. He thought the power of an apostle might 
as well be had for a good fee as the advice of a i)iiy- 
sician or a lawyer; which was the greatest despite 



that could be done to the Spirit of grace. All the 
buying and selling of pardons and indulgencies in the 
cliurch of Rome is the product (.f this same wicked 
thought, thai the gift of God may be purchased with 
monty, when the cfter of divine grace so expressly 
runs, without money ajid without price. 

(2.) He shews him his character, which is in- 
ferred from his crime. Fron every thing that, a 
man says or does amiss, we cannot infer that he is a 
hypocrite in the profession he makes of religion ; but 
this of Simon's was such a fundamental error, as 
could by no means consist with a state of grace ; his 
bidding money (and that got by sorcery too) was an 
incontestable evidence that lie was yet under the 
power of a Avorldly and carnal mind, and was yet 
that natural man nvhich receiveth not the things oj 
the Spirit of God, neither can he know them. And 




tized, yet thou art not sincere." We are as our 
hearts are ; if they be not right, we are wrong ; and 
they are open in the sight of God, who knows them, 
judges them, and judges of us by them. Our hearts 
are that which they are in the sight of God, who 
cannot be deceived ; and if they be not right in his 
sight, whatever our pretensions be, our religion is 
vain, and will stand us in no stead : our great con- 
cern is to approve ourselves to him in our integi'ity, 
for otherwise we cheat ourselves into ovir own ruin. 
Some refer this particularly to the proposal he 
made ; what he asked is denied him, because his 
heart is not right in the sight of God in asking it ; he 
does not aim at the glory of God or the honour of 
Christ in it, but to make a hand of it for himself; 
he asks, and has not, becatise-he asks amiss, that he 
may consume it upon his lusts, and be still thought 
some great one. [2.] That he is in the gall of bit- 
terness, and in the bond of iniquity ; I perceive that 
thou art so, v. 23. ^This is plain dealing, and plain 
dealing is best when we are dealing about souls and 
eternity. Simon had got a great name antong the 
people, and of late a good name too among God's 
people, and yet Peter here gives him a black cha- 
racter. Note, It is possible for a man to continue 
under the power of sin, and yet to put on a for?n of 
godliness. Iperceire it, saith Peter. It was not so 
much by the Spirit of discerning, with which Peter 
was endued, that he perceived this, as by Simon's 
discovery of it in the proposal he made. Note, 
The disguises of hypocrites many times are soon 
seen through ; the nature of the wolf shews itself 
notwithstanding the cover of the sheep's clothing. 
Now the character here given of Simon is really the 
character of all wicked people. First, They are in 
the gall of bitterness ; odious to God, as that whicb. 
is bitter as gall is to us. Sin is an abominable thing 
which the Lord hates, and sinners are by it made 
abominable to him ; they are vicious in their own 
nature ; indwelling sin is a root of bitterness, that 
bears gall and wormwood, Deut. 29. 18. The 
faculties are corrupted, and the mind imbittered 
against all good, Heb. 12. 15. It speaks likewise 
the pernicious consequences of sin ; the end is bitter 
as vjormwood. Secondly, They are in the bond of 
iniquity ; bound over to the judgment of God b\' the 
guilt of sin, and bound under the dominion of Satan 
by the power of sin ; led ca])tive hy him at liis will, 
and it is a sore bondage, like that in Egypt, making 
the life liitter. 

(3.) He reads him his doom in two things: 
[1.] He shall sink with his worldly wealth which 
he overvalued ; Thy money perish with thee. First, 
Hereby Peter rejects his offer with tlie utmost dis- 
dain and indignation ; ♦•Dost thou think thou canst 
bribe us to betray our trust, and to put the power 
we are intrusted with, into such unworthy hands ? 



THE ACTS, VIII. 



83 



•Away with tliee and thy money too ; we will have 
nothing to do with cither. Get thee behind me, 
Sutati." When we are tempted with money to do 
an evil thing, we should see what a perishing thing 
nionev' is, and scorn to be ijiassed with it. It is the 
character of the upright man, that he shakes his 
hands from holding, from touching of bribes, Isa. 
oo. 15.' Secondly, He warns him of Ins danger of 
utter destmctidulf he continued in tliis mind ; " Thy 
money will peris!;, and thuu wilt lose it, and all that 
thou canst jjurchase witli it. As meats for the belly, 
and the belly for meats, (1 Cor. 6. 13.) so goods for 
money, and money for goods, but God shall destroy 
both it and them, they. perish in the using ; but that 
is not the worst of it, thou wilt /lerish ivith it, and it 
•with thee i and it will be an aggravation of thy ruin, 
and a heavy load upon thy perishing soul, that thou 
hadst money, which might have been made to turn 
to a good account, (Luke 16. 9.) which might have 
been laid at the apostles' feet, as a charity, and 
would have been accepted, but was thrust into their 
hands as a brilje, and was rejected. Son, remember 
this. " 

[2. ] He shall come short of the spiritual blessings 
which he undervalued ; {v. 21.) " Thou hast neither 
part nor lot in this matter ; thou hast nothing to do 
with the gifts of the Holy (ihost, thou dost not un- 
derstand them, thou art excluded from them, hast 
put a bar in thine own door, thou canst not receive 
the Holy Ghost thyself, nor power to confer the 
Holy Ghost upon others, for thy heart is not right in 
the sight of God, if thou thinkest that Christianity is 
a trade to live by in this world, and therefore thou 
hast no fiart nor lot in the eternal life in the other 
world which the gospel offers." Note, First, There 
are many who profess the christian religion, and yet 
have nofiart nor lot in the matter ; no fiart in Christ, 
(John 13. 8.) no lot in the heavenly Canaan. Se- 
condly, They are those whose hearts are not right 
in the sight of God, are not "animated by a right 
spirit, nor guided by a right rule, nor directed to the 
right end. 

(4.) He gives him good counsel, notwithstanding, 
V. 22. Though he was angry with him, yet he did 
not abandon him ; and though he would have him 
see his case to l^e very bad, yet he would not have 
him think it desperate ; yet now there is ho/ie in 
Israel. Observe, 

[1.] What it is that he advises him to; he must 
do his first works ; First, He must re/tent ; must see 
his error, and retract it ; must change his mind and 
way ; must be humbled and ashamed for what he has 
done ; his repentance must he particular ; " Repent 
of this, own thyself guilty in this, and be sorry for 
it." He must lay load upon himself for it, must not 
extenuate it, by calling it a mistake, or misguided 
zeal, but must aggravate it, by qalling it wickedness, 
his wickedness, the fruit of his own corruption. 
Those that ha\e said and done amiss, must, as far 
as they can, unsay it and undo it again by rejient- 
ance. Secondly, He nnist fii-ay to God, must pray 
that God would give him repentance, and pardon 
upon repentance. Penitents must pray, which im- 
plies a desire toward God, and a confidence in 
Christ. Simon Magus, great a man as he thinks 
himself, shall not lie courted into the apostles' com- 
numion, (how much soever some would think it a 
reputation to thpni,) upon any other terms than 
those upon wliich other sinners are admitted — I'c- 
pentance and prayer. 

[2.] Wliat encouragement he gives him to do 
■this ; iffierha/is the thought of thy heart, this wicked 
thou.a^t of thine, may be forgiven thee. Note, First', 
There may be a great deal of wickedness in the 
thought of the heart, its false notions, and corruj)t 
affections, and wicked projects, which must be re- 
pented of, or we are undone. Secondly, The 



thought of the heart, though ever so wicked, sUad 
be forgiven, upon our repentance, an*d not laid to our 
charge. When Peter here puta a /lerha/is upon n, 
the doubt is of the sincerity of his repentance, ni t 
of his pardon, if his repentance be sincere. Jf in- 
deed the thought of thy heart may be forgiven, so it 
may be read. Or it intimates, that the greatness 
of his sin might justly make the pardon doubtful, 
though the promise of the gospel had put the mat- 
ter out of doubt, in case he did truly repent ; like 
that, (Lam. 3. 29. ) If so be there may be ho/ie. 

[3.] Simon's request to them to pray for him, v. 
24. He was startled and put into contusion by that 
which Peter said, finding that resented thus, whicJi 
he thought would lia\ e l^een embraced with bot'n 
arms ; and he cries out, Pray ye to the Lord for me, 
that none of the things which ye liave sjiokvn coine 
u/ion me. Here was. First, Something well ; that 
he was aflfcctcd with the leproof given him, and ter- 
rified by tlie character given of him, enough to make 
the stoutest heart to tremble ; and that being so, he 
begged the prayers of the apostles for him, wishing 
to have an interest in them, who, he believed, had 
a good interest in Heaxen. Secondly, Something 
wanting ; he begged of them to pray for him, but 
did not pray for liimself, as he ought to have done ; 
and, in desiring them to pray for him, his concern is 
more that the judgments he had made himself liable 
to might be ])re\ented, than that his corruptions 
might be mortified, and his heart by divine gi-ace, 
be made right in the sight of God: like Phaiaoh, 
who would have Moses entreat the Lord for him, 
that he would take anvay this death only, not that he 
would take anvay this sin, this hardness of heart, 
Exod. 8. 8. — 10." 17. Some think that Peter had 
denounced some particular judgments against him, 
as against Ananias and Sai)phira, which, upon this 
submission of his, at the apostle's intercession, were 
prevented : oi-, from what is related, he might infer, 
that some token of God's wrath would fall upon 
him, which he thus dreaded and deprecated. 

Lastly, Here is the i-eturn of the apostles to Jeru- 
salem, when they had finished the business they 
came about ; for as yet they were not to disperse : 
but though thev came hither to do that work which 
was peculiar to them as apostles, yet, opportunity 
offering itself, they applied themselves to that wliich 
was common to all gospel-ministers. 1. There in 
the city of Samaria they were preachers, they testi- 
fied the word of the Lord, solemnly attested the 
truth of the gospel, and confirmed what the other 
ministers preached : they did not pretend to bring 
them any thing new, though they were apostles, 
but bore their testimony to the -rord of the Lord as 
they had received it. 2. In their road home they 
were itinerant preachers ; as they passed through 
many villages of the Samaritans they fireached the 
gosfiel. Though the congregations there were no- 
thing so considerable as in the cities, either for num- 
ber or figure, yet their souls were as precious, and 
the apostles did not think it below them to preacl\ 
the gos])el to them. God has a regard to the in- 
halntants of his villages in Israel, (Judg. 5. 11.) and 
so shoidd we. 

26. And the anj^'el of the Lord spake unto 
Phihp, sayine:, Arise and go toward the 
south, unto the way that ffoeth down from 
.Terusaloni unto Gaza, wliieh is dessert. 27, 
And he arose and went : and behold, a man 
of Ethiopia, an eunuch of peat authority 
under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, 
who had the cliarg:e of all her treasure, and 
had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28. 
Was returning, and sitting in his chariot, 



84 



THE ACTS, VIll. 



read Esaias the prophet. 29. Then the 
Spirit said unto Phihp, Go near, and join 
thyself to this chariot. 30. And Philip ran 
thither to him, and heard him read the pro- 
phet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou 
what thou readest ? 31. And he said, How 
can I, except some man should guide me 1 
And he desired Philip that he would come 
up and sit with him. 32. The place of the 
scripture which he read, was this. He was 
led as a sheep to the slaughter, and like a 
lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened 
he not his mouth : 33. In his humiliation 
his judgment was taken away: and who 
shall declare his generation ? For his life 
is taken from the earth. 34. And the 
eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray 
♦,hee, of whom speaketh the prophet this ? 
Of himself, or of some other man ? 35. 
Then Philip opened his mouth, and began 
at the same scripture, and preached unto 
him Jesus. 36. And as they went on their 
way, they came unto a certain water : and 
the eunuch said. See, here is water ; what 
doth hinder me to be baptized ? 37. And 
Philip said. If thou believest with all thine 
heart, thou mayest. And he answered and 
said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son 
of God. 38. And he commanded the cha- 
riot to stand still : and they went down both 
into the water, both Philip and the eunuch ; 
and he baptized him. 39. And when they 
were come up out of the water, the Spirit 
if the Lord caught away Philip, that the 
eunuch saw him no more : and he went on 
his way rejoicing. 40. But Philip was 
found at Azotus : and passing through, he 
prieached in all the cities till he came to 
Caesarea. 

We have here the story of the conversion of an 
Ethiopian eunuch to the faith of Christ ; by whom, 
we have reason to think, the knowledge of Christ 
was sent into that country where he lived, and that 
scripture fulfilled, Ethio/iia shall soon stretch out her 
hands, one of the first of the nations, unto God, Ps. 
68. 31. 

I. Philip the evangelist is directed into the road 
where he would meet with this Ethiopian, 7'. 26. 
When the churches in Samaria were settled, and 
had ministers appointed tliem, the a/wstles ivent 
back to Jerusalem ; but Philip stays, expecting to 
be employed in breaking up fresh ground in the 
country. And here we have, 

1. Direction given him by an angel, (])robably, in 
a dream, or vision of the night,) what course to 
steer : ^rise and go toward the south. Though an- 
■gels were not employed to ])reach the gospel, they 
were often employed in cairying messages to minis- 
ters for advice and encouragement, as ch. 5. 19. We 
cannot now expect such guides in our way ; but 
doubtless there is a special providence of Ciod con- 
versant about the removes and settlements of minis- 
ters, and one way or other he will direct those who 
sincerely desire to follow him, into that way in which 
he will own them ; he will guide them with his eye. 



He must go southward, to the -way that leads from 
Jerusalem to Gaza, through the desert or wilderness 
of Judah. Philip would never have thought of going 
thither, into a desert, into a common road through 
the desert ; small probability of finding work tliere! 
Yet thither he is sent, according to our Saviour's pa- 
rable, foretelling the call of the Gentiles, Go ye into 
the high-ways, and the hedges, Matt. 22. 9. S(nie- 
times God opens a door of opportunity to his minis- 
ters injplaces very unlikely. 

2. His obedience to this direction; (v. 27.) He 
arose and went ; without objecting, or so much as 
asking, "What business have 1 there ?" Or, •' What 
likelihood is there of doing good there ?" He went 
out, not knowing whither he went, or whom he was 
to meet. 

II. An account is given of this eunuch, {x>. 27.) 
who, and what, he was, on whom this distinguishing 
favour was bestowed. 

1. He was a foreigner, a man of Rthiojiia ; there 
were two Ethiopias, one in Arabia, but that lay east 
from Canaan ; it should seem, this was of Ethiopia 
in Africa, which lay south, beyond Egypt, a great 
way off from Jerusalem ; for in Christ, they that 
weir afar off were inade nigh, according to the pro- 
mise, that the ends of the earth .should see the great 
salvation. The Ethiopians were looked upon as the 
meanest and most despicable of the nations, black- 
moors, as if nature had stigmatized them ; yet the 
gospel is sent to them, and divine grace looks upon 
them, though they are black, though the su7i has 
looked u/ion them. 

2. He was a person of quality, a great man in his 
own country, an eunuch ; not in body, but in office ; 
lord cliamberlain or steward of. the household ; and, 
either bv the dignity of his place or by his personal 
character, which commanded i-espect, he was of 
great authority, and bore a mighty sway under Can- 
dace queen of the Ethiopians, who probably was suc- 
cessor to the queen* of Sheba, who is called the 
queen of the south ; that country being governed by 
queens, to whom Candace was a common name, as 
Pharaoh to the kings of Egypt ; he had the charge 
of all her treasure ; so great a trust did she repose 
in him ! .A'^ot maiiy mighty, ?tot ?nany noble, are 
called ; but some are. 

3. He was a proselyte to the Jewish religion, for 
he came to Jerusalem for to worship. Some think 
that he was a proselvte of rigliteousness, who was 
circumcised, and kept the feasts ; others, that he 
was only a proselyte of the gate, a Gentile, I^ut who 
had renounced idolatiy, and woi'shipjied the God of 
Israel occasionally in the court of the Gentiles: but, 
if so, then Petei" was not the first that preached the 
gospel to the Gentiles, as he says he was. Some 
think that there wei-c remains of the knowledge of 
the true God in this country, ever since the queen of 
Sheba's time ; and probably the ancestor of this eu- 
nuch was one of her attendants, who transmitted to 
his posterity what he learned at Jerusalem. 

III. Phili]) and the eunuch are brought together 
into a close conversation ; and now Philip shall know 
the meaning of his being sent mio a desert, for there 
he meets with a chariot, that shall serve for a syna- 
gogue, and one man, the conversion of whom shall 
be in effect, for aught he knows, the conversion of a 
whole nation. 

1. Philip is ordered to fall into company with this 
traveller that is going home from Jervisalem toward 
Gaza, thinking he has done all the business of his 
journey, when the great business which the over- 
ruling providence of God designed in it, was yet un- 
done. He had been at Jerusalem, where thcapos- 
tles were preaching the christian faith, and multi- 
tudes professing it, and yet there he had taken no 
notice of it, and made no inquiries after it ; nay, it 
should seem, had slighted it, and turned his hack 



THE ACTS, VIII. 



86 



upon it ; yet the gi-ace of God pursues him, over- 
takes him in the desert, and there overcomes liim. 
Thus God is often found of those that sought him 
not, I-sa. 65. 1. Philip has this order, not by an an- 
gel, as before, but by thd S/iirit whispering it in his 
ear, {v. 29.) " Go near, and join thyself to this cha- 
riot ; go so near as that the gentleman may take no- 
tice of thee. " We should suidj- to do good to those 
we light in company with upon the road: thus the 
ii/is of the righteous may feed many. We should 
ndt be so shy of all strangers as some affect to be. 
Those we know nothing else, we know this of, that 
they huN e souls. 

2. He finds him reading in his Bil)lc, as he sat in 
his chariot ; {v. 28. J He ran to him, and heard him 
read ; he read out, tor the benefit of tliose that were 
with him, xk 30. He not only relieved the tedious- 
ness of the journey, but redeemed time by reading, 
not philosophy, history, or politics, much less a ro- 
mance, or a play, but the scriptures, the book of 
Esaias ; that book Christ read in, (Luke 4. 17.) and 
the euiuich here, which should recomnicnd it parti- 
cularlv to our reading. Perhaps the eunuch was now 
reading over again those j^ortions of scripture which 
he liail heard read and expounded at Jeinisalem, that 
he might recollect what he had heard. Note, ( 1 .) It 
is the duty of every one of us to converse much with 
the holy scriptures. (2.) Persons of quality should 
abound more than othei's in the exercises of piety, 
because their example will influence many, and they 
have their time more at command. (3.) It is wis- 
dom for men of business to redeem time for holy du- 
ties ; time is precious, and it is the best husbandry 
in the world to gather ufi the fragments of time, that 
none be lost ; to fill up e\'ery minute with something 
tliat will turn to a good account. (4.) When we are 
retui-ning from public worship, we should use means 
in private for the keeping up of the good aff'ections 
tb.ere kindled, and the preserving of the goml im- 
pressions there made, 1 Chron. 29. 18. (5.) Those 
that are diligent in searching the scriptures, are in a 
fair way to improve in knowledge ; tor to him that 
hath shall be gix<en. 

3. He puts a fair question to him ; Understandest 
thou ivhat thou readest ? Not by way of reproach, 
I>ut with design to offer him his service. Note, 
What we read and heaj-of the word of God, it highly 
concerns us to understand, especially what we read 
and hear concerning Christ ; and therefore we 
should often ask ourselves, whether we understand 
it or no ? Have ye understood all these things ? 
Matt. 13. 51. And have ye understood them 
aright ? We cannot profit by the scriptures unless 
we do in some measure understand them, 1 Cor. 14. 
16, 17. And, blessed be God, what is necessary to 
salvation, is easy to be imderstood. 

4. He, in a sense of his need of assistance, desires 
Philip's company; {v. 31.) " Hoiv can I under- 
yfand, said he, excejit some one guide me? There- 
fore prav come uj), and sit with me." (1.) He 
speaks as one that had very low thoughts of himself 
and his own capacity and attainments. He was so 
far tVom taking it as an affront, to be asked, whether 
he understood wliat he read, though Philip was a 
stranger, on foot, and probably looked mean, (which 
many a less man would ha\ e done, and ha\e called 
him an impertinent fellow, and l)id him go alwuthis 
business, what was it to him ?) that he takes the 
question kindly ; makes a very modest re])ly, Hoiv 
can I? We have reason to think he was an intelli- 
gent man, and as well acfiuainted with the meaning 
of scriy^ture as most were, and yet he modcstlv cnn- 
frsses his weakness. Note, Those tliat would learn, 
must st-e their need tn be taught. The prophet must 
first own that lu* kiwa's not -vhaf thrse are, and tlien 
the angel will tell him, /,ech. 4. 13. (2.) He speaks 
as one very desirous to be taught, to have sotne one 



to guide him. Observe, He read the scriptui-e, 
though there were many things in it which he diil 
not understand ; though there are many things in 
the scriptures, which ai-e dark andhai'd to be under- 
stood, nay, which are often misunderstood, yet we 
must not therefore throw them b)', but study them 
for the sake of those things that are easy, which is 
the likehest way to come ])y degrees to the under- 
standing of those things that are difficidt ; for knoNt- 
ledge and grace grow gradually. (3.) He invited 
Philip to co7ne u/i and sit with him ; not as Jehu 
took Jonadab into his chariot, to come see his zeo I for 
the Lord of hosts, (2 Kings 10. 16.) l)ut rather, 
"Come, see my ignorance, and instruct me." He 
will gladly do Philip the lionour to take him into the 
coach with him, if Philip will do him the favour to 
expound a portion of scripture to him. Note, In or- 
der to our right understanding of the scripture, it is 
requisite we should have some one to guide us ; 
some good books, and some good men, but abo\ e all, 
the Spirit of grace, to lead us into all truth. 

IV. The portion of scripture which the eunuch 
recited, with some hints of Philip's discourse upon 
it. The preachers of the gospel had a very good 
handle to take hold of those by, who were conver- 
sant with the scriptures of the Old Testament, and 
received them, especially when they found them ac- 
tually engaged in the study of them, as the eunuch 
was here. 

1. The chapter he was reading, was, the tifty- 
third of Isaiah, two verses of which are here quoted, 
(t'. 32, 33.) part of the seventh and eighth \erses ; 
they are set down according to the Sejjtuagint \er- 
sion, which in some things differs from the original 
Hebrew, Grotius thinks the eunuch read it in the 
Heljrew, but Luke takes the Septuagint translation, 
as readier to the language in which he wrote ; and 
he supposes that the eunuch had learned from the 
many Jews that were in Ethiopia, both their reli- 
gion and language. But, considering that the Sep- 
tuagint version was made in Egypt, which was the 
next countiy adjoining to Ethiopia, and lay betwixt 
them and Jerusalem, I rather think that translation 
was most familiar to him. It appears by Isa. 20. 4. 
that there was much communication between those 
two nations — Egypt and Ethioj^ia. The greatest 
variation from the Hel^rew, is, that what in the ori- 
ginal is. He was taken from firison and from judg- 
ment, (hurried with the utmost violence and preci- 
pitation from one judgment-seat to another ; or 
From force and from judgment he was taken away ; 
that is. It was from the fury of the people, and their 
continual clamours, and the judgment of Pilate 
thereupon, that he was taken away,) is here read, 
In his humiliation his judgment was taken away. 
He appeared so mean and despicable in their eyes, 
that they denied him common justice, and, against 
all the rules of equity, which e\ ery man is entitled 
to the benefit of, they declared him innocent, and 
yet condemned him to die ; nothing criminal can bi; 
proved upon him, but he is down, and down with 
him. Thus in his humiliation his judgment was 
taken away ; so, the sense is much the same with 
that of the Hebrew. 

So that these verses foretold concerning the Mes- 
siah, 

(1.) Tliat he should die; should be led to the 
slaughter, as sheefi that were offered in saciifice ; 
that his life should be taken from among men, taken 
from the earth. \\'ith what little reason then was 
the death of Christ a stumbling-block to the unbe- 
lieving .Tews, when it was so plainly foretold by their 
own pro]iliets, and was so necessary to the arrom- 
lilishment of his undcrtpjcing ! Then is the offence 
of the cross ceased. 

(2.) That he shouUl die wrcngfullv ; should die by 
violence, should be hurried out of his life, and his 



36 



THE ACTS, VIII. 



judgment shall be taken away ; no justice done 
him ; for he must be cut off, but not for himself. 

(3.) That lie shonld die patiently ; like a lamb 
dumb before the shearer, nay, and before the butcher 
too, so he opened not his mouth ; never was such an 
example of patience as our Lord Jesus was in his 
suffenngs ; when he was accused, wjien he was 
abused, he was silent, reviled not again, threatened 
not. ^ i 

(4.) That yet he should live for ever, to ages 
which cannot be numbered ; for so I understand 
tliose words. Who shall declare his generation ? The 
Hebrew word properly signifies, the duration of one 
life, Eccl. 1. 4. Now who can conceive or express 
how long he shall continue, notwithstanding this ; 
for his life is only taken from the earth ? in heaven 
he shall live to endless and innumerable ages, as it 
follows in Isa. 53. 10. He shall prolong his days. 

2. The eunuch's question upon tliis, is, Ofivhom 
speaketh the prophet this? v. 34. He does not desire 
Philip to give some critical remarks upon the words 
and phrases, and the idioms of the language, but to 
acquaint him with the general scope and design of 
the prophecy, to furnish him with a kev, in the use 
of which he might, by comparing one thing with 
another, be let into the meaning of the particular 
])assages. Prophecies had usually in them something 
of obscurity, till they were explained b)- the accom- 
plishment of them, as this now was. It is a material 
(juestion he asks, and a very sensible one ; " Does 
the prophet speak this of himself, in expectation of 
being used, being 7;;Mused, as the other prophets 
were; or does he speak it of some other jnan, in his 
ow,n age, or in some age to come .■"' Though the 
modern Jews will not allow it to be spoken of the 
Messiah, yet their ancient doctors did so intei-pret 
it ; and perhaps the eunuch knew it, and did ])artly 
understand it so himself, only he proposed this ques- 
tion, to draw on discourse with Philip ; for the way 
to improve in learning, is, to consult the learned ; as 
they must inc/uire the la'iv at the mouth of the priests, 
(Mai. 2. 7.) so they must inquire the gospel, especi- 
ally that ])art of the treasure which is hid in the 
field of the Old Testament, at the mouth of the mi- 
nisters of Christ. The way to receive good instruc- 
tions, is, to ask good questions. 

3. Philip takes this fair occasion given him, to 
open to him the great mystery of the gospel con- 
cerning Jesus Christ and him crucified. He began 
at this scripture, took that for his text, (as Christ 
did another passage of the same prophecy, Luke 4. 
21.) and preached unto hirn Jesus, v. 35. That is 
all the account given us of Philip's sermon, because 
it was the same in effect with Peter's sermons, 
which we have had before. The business of gospel- 
ministers is to preach Jesus, and that is the preach- 
ing that is likely to do good. It is probable that 
Philip had now occasion for his gift of tongues, that 
he might preach Christ to this Ethiopian in the lan- 
guage of his own country. And here we have an 
instance of speaking of the things of God, and speak- 
ing of them to good purpose, not only as we sit in the 
house, but as nve walk by the way, according to that 
rule, Deut. 6. 7. 

V. The eunuch is baptized in the name of Christ, 
V. 36 — 38. It is probable that the eunuch had heard 
at Jerusalem of the doctrine of Christ, so that it was 
not altogether new to him. But, if he had, what 
could that do toward this speedy conquest that was 
made of his heart for Christ ? It was a powerful 
working of the Spirit with and by Philip's preaching 
til at gained the point. Now here we have, 

1. The modest proposal which the eunuch made 
of himself to baptism ; (v. 36. ) y}s they went on their 
way, discoursing f>f Christ, *he eunuch asking more 
questions, and Philip answeHng them to his satis- 
'action, they came unto a certain water, a well, 



river, or pond, the sight of which made the eunuch 
think of being baptized. Thus God, by hints of 
providence which seem casual, sometimes puts his 
people in mind of their duty, which otherwise per- 
haps thev would not have thought of. The eunuch 
knew not how little a while Philip might be with 
him, nor where he might afterwards inquire for him ; 
he could not expect his travelling with him to his 
next stage, and therefore if Philip think fit, he will 
take the present convenience which offers itself, of 
being baptized ; " See, here is water, which perhaps 
we may not meet with a great while again ; what 
doth hinder me to be baptized? Canst thou shew 
any cause why I should not be admitted a ditciple 
and follower of Christ by baptism ?" Observe, (1.) 
He does not deynayid baptism, does not say, " Here 
is water, and here I am resolved I will be baptized;" 
for if Philip have any thing to offer to the contrary, 
he is willing to wave it for tlie present. If he think 
him not fit to be baptized, or if there be any thing 
in the institution of the ordinance, which will not 
admit suclva speedy administration of it, he will 
not insist upon it. The most forward zeal must 
submit to order and rule. But, (2.) He does desire 
it, and unless Phihp can shew cause why not, he de- 
sires it now, and is not willing to defer it. Note, In 
the solemn dedicating and devoting of ourselves to 
God, it is good to make haste, and ?iot to delay ; for 
the present time is the best time, Ps. 119. 60. They 
who have received the thing signified by baptism, 
should not put off receiving the sign. The eunuch 
feared lest the good affections now working in him 
should cool and abate, and therefore was willing 
immediately to bind his soul with the baptisntal 
bonds unto the Lord, that he .might bring the mat- 
ter to an issue. 

2. The fair declaration which Philip made him of 
the terms upon which he might have the privilege 
of baptism ; {v. 37.) If thou believest with all thine 
heart, thou mayest ; that is, "If thou believest this 
doctrine which I have preached to thee concerning 
Jesus, if thou receivest the record God has given 
concerning him, and set to thy seal that it is true." 
He must belie\e with all his heart, for with the 
heart man believeth, not with the head only, by an as- 
sent to gospel-truths, in the understanding ; but with 
the heart, by a consent of the will to gospel-terms. 
"If thou do indeed believe with all thy heart, thou 
art by that united to Christ, and if thou give proofs 
and evidences that thou dost so, thou mayest by 
baptism be joined to the church." 

3. The confession of faith which the eunuch made 
in order to his being baptized ; it is very sho<t, but 
it is comprehensive and much to the puipose, and 
what was sufficient ; / believe that Jesus Christ is 
the Son of God. He was before a worshipi)er of the 
ti-ue God, so that all he had to do now, was, to re- 
ceive Christ Jesus the Lord. (1.) He believes that 
Jesus is the Christ, the true Messiah promised, the 
jinointed One. (2.) That Christ is Jesus — a Sa- 
viour, the only Saviourof his peo])le from their sins. 
And, (3.) That this Jesus Christ is the Son of God, 
that he has a divine nature, as the Son is of the same 
nature with the Father ; and that, being the Son of 
God, he is the Heir of all things. This is the prin- 
cipal, peculiar doctrine of Christianity, and whoso- 
ever believe this with all their heart, and confess it, 
they and their seed are to be l)aptized. 

4. The baptizing of him hereupon. The eunuch 
ordered his coachman to stop, com?rianding the cha- 
riot to stand still ; it was the best baiting place he 
ever met with in any of his journeys ; they went 
down both into the water, for they had no conveni- 
ent vessels with them, being upon a journey, where- 
with to take up watei-, and must therefore go down 
into it ; not that they stript off their clothes, ana 
went naked into the water, but, going barefoot, ac- 



THE ACTS, IX. 



cording to the custom, they went perhaps up to the 
ancles or mid-leg into the water, and Philip sprin- 
kled water upon him, according to the prophecy 
which this eunuch had probably but just now read, 
for it was but a few verses before those which Philip 
found him upon, and was very apposite to his case ; 
(Isa. 52. 15.) So shall he sfirinklc many nations, 
kings and great men shall shut their mouths at him, 
shall submit to him, and acquiesce in him, for that 
which had not before been told them shall they see, 
and that which they had not heard shall they con- 
sider. Observe, Though Philip had very lately 
been deceived in Simon Magus, and had admitted 
him to baptism, though he afterward appeared to 
be no true convert, yet he did not therefore sci'uple 
to baptize the eunuch upon his profession of faith 
immediately, without putting him upon a longer 
trial than usual. If some hypocrites crowd into the 
church, that afterward prove a grief and scandal to 
us, yet we must not therefore make the door of ad- 
mission any straiter than Christ has made it ; they 
shall answer for their apostacy, and not we. 

VI. Philip and the eunuch are parted presently ; 
and this is as surprising as the other parts of the 
story. One would have expected that the eunuch 
should either have stayed with Philip, or have taken 
him along with him into his own country, and, there 
being so many ministers in those parts, he might be 
spared, and it would be worth while : but God or- 
dered otherwise ; as soon as they were come ujx out 
of the water, before the eunuch went into his chariot 
again, the Sjiirit of the Lord caught away Philip, 
(y. 39. ) and did not give him time to make an ex- 
hortation to the eunuch, as usual after baptism, 
which it is probable the one intended, and the other 
expected ; but his sudden departure was sufficient 
to make up the want of that exhortation, for it seems 
to have been miraculous, and that he was caught 
up, in the air in the eunuch's sight, and so carried 
out of his sight ; and the working of this miracle 
upon Philip, was a confirmation of his doctrine, as 
much as the working of a miracle by him would have 
been. He vf an caught away, and the eunuch saw 
him no more, but, having lost his minister, returned 
to the use of his Bible again. Now here we are 
told, 

1. How the eunuch was disposed ; he went on his 
way rejoicing ; he pursued his journey, business 
called him home, and he must hasten to it ; for it 
was no way inconsistent with his Christianity, which 
places no sanctity or perfection in men's being her- 
mits or recluses, but is a religion which men may 
and ought to carry about with them into the affairs 
of tliis life. But he went en, rejoicing ; so far was 
he from reflecting upon this sudden resolution and 
change, or advancement rather in his religion, with 
any regret, that his second thoughts confirmed him 
abundantlv in it, and he went on, rejoicing with joy 
unspeakable and frill of glnry ; he was never better 
pleased in all his life. (1.) He rejoiced that he him- 
self was joined to Christ, and had an interest in 
him. And, (2.) That he had these good tidings 
to bring to his countrymen, and a prospect of bring- 
ing them also, bv virtue of his interest among them, 
into fellowsliip with Christ ; for he returned, not 
only a christian, but a minister. Some copies read 
this verse thus : Ayid when they were come iifi out 
of the water, the Holy Spirit fell ufion the eunuch, 
(without the ceremonv of the apostle's imposition of 
hands,) but the ane-el of the Lord caught away 
Philip. 

2. How Philip was disposed of; (r. 40.) He was 
found at Azotus or Ashdod, formerly a city of the 
Philistines ; there the angel or Spirit of the Lord 
dropped him, which was above thirty miles from 
Gaza, whither the eunuch was going, and where 
Dr. Lightfoot thinks he took ship, and went by sea 



into his own countiy. But Philip, wherever he was, 
would not be idle ; passing through, he preached in 
all the cities till he came to Cxsarea, and there he 
settled, and, for aught that appears, had his princi- 
pal residence e\er after ; for at Cscsarea we find him 
in a house of his own, ch. 21. 8. He that had been 
faithful in working for Christ as an itinerant, at 
length gains a settlement. 

CHAP. IX. 

In this chapter, we have, I. T^he famous story of St. Paul's 
conversion from being an outiagtous persecutor of tlie 
gospel of Christ, lobe an illustrious professor and preacher 
of it. 1. How he was first awakened and wrought uponbv 
an appearance of Christ himself to him as he was going 
upon an errand of persecution to Damascus : and what a 
condition he was in wliile he lay under tlie power of those 
convictions and terrors, v. 1 . . 9. 2. How he was baptized 
by Ananias, by imniediate-<lirection from heaven, v. 10. . 19. 

3. How he immediately commenced doctor, and preached 
the faith of Christ, and proved what he preached, v. 20 . . 2?. 

4. How he was persecuted, and narrowly escaped with his 
life, V. 23 . . 25. 5. How he was admitted among the bre- 
thren at Jerusalem : how he preached, and was persecuted 
there, v. 26 . . 30. 6. Tlie rest and quietness which the 
churches enjoyed for some time after this, v. 31. II. Tlie 
cure wfougiil by Peter on /Eneas, who had lone been laid 
up of a palsy, V. 32 . . 35. III. The raisingofTabitha from 
death to life, at the prayer of Peter, v. 36 . . 44. 

1. 4 NU Saul, yet breathing out threat- 
-OL enings and slaughter against the 
disciples of the Lord, went unto the High- 
Priest, 2. And desired of him letters to Da- 
mascus to the synagogues, that if he found 
any of this way, whether they were men or 
women, he might bring them bountl unto 
Jerusalem. 3. And as he journeyed, he 
came near Damascus : and suddenly there 
shined round about him a light from hea- 
ven : 4. And he fell to the earth, and heard 
a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why 
persecutest thou me ? 5. And he said. Who 
art thou, Lord ? And the Lord said, I am 
Jesus whom thou persecutest : It is hard 
for thee to kick against the pricks. 6. And 
he, trembling and astonished, said. Lord, 
what wilt thou have me to do ? And the 
Lord snid unto him. Arise, and go into the 
city, and it shall be told thee what thou 
must do. 7. And the men which journeyed 
with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, 
but seeing no man. 8. And Saul arose 
from the earth ; and when his eyes were 
opened, he saw no man : but thej^ led him 
by the hand, and brought Iiim into Damas- 
cus. 9. And he was three days without 
sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 

We found mention made of Saul twice or thrice 
in the story of Stejjhen, for the sacred penman even 
longed to come to his stor}'^ ; and now we are come 
to it, n(-t quite taking leave of Peter ; but from 
henceforward being mostly taken up with Paul the 
ap' stle of tlie Gentiles, as Peter was of the ciixum- 
cision. His name in Hebrew, was. Soul — desired, 
though as remarkably little in stature as his name- 
sake king Saul was tall and stately ; one of the an- 
cients calls hiu'i. Homo tricubitalis — but four foot 
and a half i?i height ; his Roman name which he 
went by among the citizens of Rome, was, Paul — 
little. He was bom in Tarsus, a city of Cilicia, a 
free city of the Romans, and himself a freeman of 



'I'HE ACTS, IX. 



that city. His father and mother were both native 
Jews, therefore he calls himself a Hebrcvj of the 
Hebrezus ; he was of the tribe of Benjamin, which 
adhered to Judah. His education was in the schools 
of Tarsus first, which was a little Athens for learn- 
ing ; there he acquainted himself with the philoso- 
phy and poetry of the Greeks. Thence he was sent 
to the university at Jerusalem, to study divinity and 
the Jewish law ; his tutor was Gamaliel an eminent 
Pharisee ; he had extraordinary natural parts, and 
improved mightily in learning ; he had likewise a 
handicraft trade, was bred to tent-making ; which 
was common with those among the Jews that were 
bred scholars, (as Dr. Lightfoot saith,) for the earn- 
ing of their maintenance, and the avoiding of idle- 
ness. 

This is the young man on whom the grace of God 
wrought this mighty change here recorded, about a 
vear aficr the ascension of Christ, or little more. 
We arc liere told, 

1. How bad he was, how very bad, before his con- 
version ; just before he was an invetei-ate enemy to 
Christianity, did his utmost to root it out, by perse- 
cuting all that embraced it. In other respects he 
was well enough, as touching the righteousness which 
is of the law, hlumeless, a man of no ill morals, but 
a blasphemer of Christ, a persecutor of christians, 
and injurious to both. 1 7"im. 1. 13. And so ill in- 
formed was his conscience, that he thought he ought 
to do what he did against the name of Christ, {ch. 
26. 9.) and that he did God service in it, as was 
foretold, John 16. 2. Here we have, 

_ 1. His general enmity and rage against the chris- 
tian religion ; {v. 1.) He yet breathed out threaten- 
ings and slaughter against the disci files of the Lord. 
Tlie persons persecuted were the disciples of the 
Lord ; because they were so, under that character 
he hated and persecuted them ; the matter of the 
persecution, was, threatenings and slaughter. There 
is persecution in threatenings ; {ch. 4. 17, 21.) they 
tf n-ify and break the spirit : and though we sav. 
Threatened folks live long; yet those whom Saul 
thrci'.tened, if he prevailed not thereby to frighten 
them from Christ, he skw them, he persecuted 
them to death, ch. 22. 4. His breathing out threat- 
enings and slaugliter intimates that it was natural to 
him, and his constant business ; he even breathed 
in this as in his element ; he breathed it out with 
heat and vehemence ; his very breath, like that of 
some venomous creature, was pestilential, he 
breathed death to the christians, wherever became; 
he puffed at them in his pride, (Ps. 12. 4, 5.) spit 
his venom at them in his rage. Saul yet breathing 
thus ; it intimates, (1.) That he still persisted in it ; 
not satisfied with the blood of those he had slain, he 
still cries. Give, give. (2. ) That he shall shortly 
be of another mind ; as yet he breathes out threat- 
enings and slaughter, but he has not long to live such 
a life as this, that breath will be stopped shortly. 

2. His particular design upon the christian's at 
Damascus ; thither was the gospel now lately ear- 
ned by those that fled from the persecution of Ste- 
phen's death, and thought to be safe and quiet there, 
and wei-e connived at by those in power there : but 
Saul cannot be easy if he knows a christian is quiet ; 
and therefore hearing that the christians in Damas- 
cus were so, he resolves to give them disturbance. 
In order to this, he applies himself to the High- 
Priest for a commission {v. 1.) to goto Damascus, 
V. 2. The High-Priest needed not to be .stirred up 
to persecute the christians, he was forward enough 
of himself to do it ; but it seems the young persecu- 
tor drove more furiously than the old one.' Leaders 
in sin 'are the worst of sinners : and the proselytes 
which the Scribes and Pharisees make, often prove 
seven times more the children of hell than them- 
selves. He saith {ch. 22. 5.) that this commission 



was had from the whole estate of the eldei-s • and 
proud enough this furious bigot was, to have a com- 
mission to him directed, with the seal of the great 
Sanhedrim affixed to it. 
Now the commission was to empower him to in- 

Juire among the synagogues, or congregations, of the 
ews that were at Damascus, whether there were 
any that belonged to them, that inclined to favou'- 
this new sect or heresy, that believed in Christ ; and 
if he found any such, whether men or women, tC' 
bring them up prisoners to Jerusalem, to be pro 
ceeded against according to law by the great coun 
cil there. Observe, (1.) The christians are here 
said to be those of this way ; those of the way : so it 
is in the original. Perhaps the christians some- 
times called themselves so, from Christ the Way ; 
or, because they looked on themselves as but in the 
way, and not yet at home ; or, the enemies thus re- 
presented it as a way by itself, a by-wav, a party, 
a faction. (2.) The High-Priest and Sanhedrim 
claimed a power over the Jews in all countries, and 
had a deference paid to their authority in matters 
of religion, by all their synagogues, even those that 
were not of the jurisdiction of the civil government 
of the Jewish nation. — And such a sovereignty the 
Roman pontiff now claims, as the Jewish pontiff 
then did, though he has not so much to shew for it. 
(2.) By this commission, all that worshipped God 
in the way that they called heresy, though agreeing 
exactly with the original institutes, even of the Jew- 
ish church, whether they wci'e men or women, were 
to be ])ersecuted. Even the weaker sex, who in a 
case of this nature might deserve excuse, or at least 
compassion, shall find neither with Saul, any more 
than they do with the Popish persecutors. (4.) He 
was ordered to bring them all bound to Jerusalem, 
as criminals of the first magnitude ; which, as it 
would be the more likely to terrify them, so it would 
be to magnify Saul, as having the command of the 
forces that were to carry them up, and opportunity 
of breathing out threatenings and slaughter. Thus 
was Saul employed when the grace of God wrought 
that great change in him. Let not us then despair 
of renewing grace for the conversion of the greatest 
sinners, nor let such despair of the pardoning mercy 
of God for the greatest sin ; for Paul himself obtain- 
ed mercy, that he might be a monument, 1 Tim. 1. 
13. 

II. How suddenly and strangely a blessed change 
was wrought in him, not in the use of any ordinary 
means, but by miracles. The conversion of Paul is 
one of the wonders of the church. 

Here is, 1. The place and time of it ; as he jour- 
neyed, he came vear to Damascus ; and there Christ 
met with him. 

(1.) He was in the way, travelling upon his jour- 
ney ; not in the temple,, or in the synagogue, or in 
the meeting of christians, but by the way. The 
work of conversion is not tied to the church, though 
ordinarily public administrations are made use of. 
Some are reclaimed in slumberings on the bed, 
(Job 33. 15, 17. ) and some in travelling upon the 
road alone ; thoughts are as free, and there is as 
good an opportunity of communing with our own 
hearts there, as upon the bed ; and there the Sjjirit 
may set in with us ; for that wind blows where it 
listeth. Some observe, that Saul was spoken to 
abroad in the open air, that there might be no sus- 
picion of imposture, or a trick put upon him in it. 

(2.) He was near Damascus, almost at his jour- 
ney's end, ready to enter the city, the chief city of 
Syria. Some observe, that he who was to l)e the 
apostle of the Gentiles, was converted to the faith 
of Christ in a Gentile country. Damascus hnd been 
infamous for ]ierscrutinir God's pcoi)]e tornicrlv, 
thcv thrrslied Gile:id with thrcshini; instruments of 
iron, (Amos 1.3.) and now it was likely to be so again. 



THE AC'JS, IX. 



B9 



(3.) He was m a wicked way; pursuing his de- 
sie:n against the christians at Damascus, and pleas- 
ing" himself with the thought that he should devour 
this new-born child of Christianity there. Note, 
Sometimes the grace of God works upon sinners, 
when they are at the worst, and hotly engaged in 
the most desperate sinful pursuits ; which is much 
for the glory both of God's pity, and of his power. 

(4.) The cruel edict and decree he had with him 
drew near to be put in execution ; and now it was 
happily prevented. — Which may be considered, [ 1. ] 
As a great kindness to the poor saints at Damascus, 
who had notice of his coming, as appears by what 
Ananias said, {v. 13, 14.) and were apprehensive of 
their danger from hirn, and trembled as poor lambs 
at the approach of a ravening wolf; Saul's conver- 
sion was their security for the present. Christ has 
many ways of delivering the godly out of tempta- 
tion, and sometimes does it by a change wrought in 
their persecutors, either restraining their wrathful 
spirits, (Ps. 76. 10.) and mollifying them for a time, 
as the Old Testament Saul, who relented toward 
David more than once; (1 Sam. 24. 16. — 26. 21.) 
or, renewing their spirits, and fixing upon them du- 
rable impressions, as upon the New Testament Saul 
here. [2.] It was also a very great mercy to Saul 
himself to be hindered from executing his wicked 
design, in which if he had now proceeded, perhaps 
it had been the filling up of the measure of his ini- 
quity. Note, It is to be valued as a signal token of 
the divine favour, if God, either by the inward ope- 
rations of his grace, or the outward occurrences of 
his providence, prevent us from prosecuting and ex- 
ecuting a sinful purpose, 1 Sam. 25. 32. 

2. The appearance of Christ to him in his glory ; 
here it is only said, that there shined round about 
hijn a light from heaven ; but it appears by what 
follows, {v. 17. ) that the Lord Jesus was in this light, 
and appeared to him by the way. He saw that Just 
One, {ch. 22. 14. ) and see ch. 26. 13. Whether he 
saw him at a distance, as Stephen saw him, in the 
heavens, or nearer in the air, is not certain. It is 
not inconsistent with what is said of the heavens re- 
ceiving Christ till the end of time, {ch. 3. 21.) to 
suppose that he did, upon such an extraordinary 
occasion as this, make a personal visit, but a very 
short one, to this lower world ; it was necessary to 
Paul's being an apostle, that he should have seen 
the Lord, and so he did, 1 Cor. 9. 1. — 15. 8. 

(1.) This light shined upon him suddenly — 
Ji'a/tfivxc, when Paul never thought of any such 
thing, and without any previous warning. Christ's 
manifestations of himself to poor souls, are many 
times sudden and very surprising, and he prevents 
them with the blessings ot his goodness. This the 
disciples that Christ called to himself, found. Or 
ever I nvas aware, Cant. 6. 12. 

(2.) It was a light from heaven, the fountain of 
light, from the God of heaven, the Father of lights. 
It was a light above the brightness of the sun, {ch. 
26. 13.) for it was visible at mid-day, and outshone 
the sun in his meridian strength and lustre, Isa. 
24. 23, 

(3.) It shone round alinut him, not in his face 
only, but on everv side of him ; let him turn which 
way he will, he finds himself sni-rounded with the 
discoveries of it. And this was designed not only to 
startle him, and awaken his attention, for well may 
lie expect to hear, when he is thus made to see 
something very extraordinarv, but to signify the en- 
lightening of his understanding with the knowledge 
of Christ. The de\'il comes to the soul in darkness, 
by it he gets and keeps possession of it. But Christ 
comes to the soul in light, for he is himself the light 
of the world, bright and glorious in himself, benefi- 
cial and gracious to iis, as light. The first thing in 
this new creation, as in that of the world, is, light, 

Vol VI.— M 



2 Cor. 4. 6. Hence all christians are said to be 
children of the light and of the day, Eph. 5. 8. 

3. The arresting of Saul, and his detachment ; 
He fell to the earth, v. 4. Some think that he was 
on K)ot, and that this light, which perhaps was ac- 
companied Mith a thunder-clap, so terrified him, 
that he could not keep his feet, but fell upon his 
face, usually a posture of adoration, but here of as- 
tf:nishinent. It is probable that he was mounted, as 
Balaam, when he went to curse Israel, and perhaps 
better mounted than he ; for Saul was now in a putj- 
lic post, was in haste, and the journey was long, so 
that it is not likely he should travel on foot. The 
sudden light would frighten the beasv he rode on, 
and make it throw him : and it was God's good pro- 
vidence that his body got no hurt by the fall : but 
angels had a particular charge concerning him to 
keep all his bones, so th.at not one of them was bro- 
ken. It appears, {ch. 26. 14.) that all that were 
with him fell to the earth as well as he, but the de- 
sign was upon him. This may be considered, 

(1.) As the effect of Christ's appearing to him, 
and of the light which shone rcamd about him. 
Note, Christ's manifestations of himself to poor 
souls are humbling ; they lay them very low, in 
mean thoughts of themselves, and an humble sub- 
mission to the will of (iod. Now 7nine eyes ste thee, 
saith Job, / abhor myself. I saw the Lord, saith 
Isaiah, sitting ufioji a throne, and I said, Woe is me, 
for I am undone. 

(2.) As a step toward his intended advancement. 
He is designed not only to be a christian, but to be a 
minister, an a])ostle, a great apostle, and therefore 
he must thus be cast down. Note, Those whom 
Christ designs for the greatest honours, are com- 
monly first laid low. Those who are designed to 
excel in knowledge and grace, are commonly laid 
low first, in a sense of their own ignorance and sin- 
fulness. Those whom God will employ, are first 
struck with a sense of their unworthiness to be em- 
ployed. 

(4.) The arraigning of Saul. Being by the fall 
taken into custody, and as it were set to the bar, he 
heard a voice saying to him, (and it was distinguish- 
ing to him only, for though they that were with him 
heard a sound, {v. 7.) yet they knew not the words, 
ch. 22. 9,) Saul, Saul, why fiersecutest thou me? 
Observe here, 

(1.) Saul not only saw a light from heaven, but 
heard a voice from heaven ; wherever the glory of 
God was seen, the word of God was heard ; God's 
manifestations of himself were never dumb shews, 
for he magnifies his word above all his name, and 
what was seen was always designed to make way 
for what was said ; Saul heard a voice. Note, Faith 
comes by hearing ; hence the Spirit is said to be re- 
ceived by the hearing of faith. Gal. 3. 2. The voice 
he heard was the voice of Christ : when he saw that 
just One ; he heard the voice of his mouth, ch. 22. 
14. Note, Then the word we hear is likely toprrfit 
us, when we hear it as the voice of Christ, 1 Thess. 
2. 13. It is the voice of 7ny beloved ; no voice but 
his can reach the heart. Seeing and heaj-ing are the 
two learning senses ; Christ here, by both those 
doors, entered into Saul's heart. 

(2.) What he heard was very awakening. 

[1.] He was called by his name, and that dou- 
bled ; Sanl, Saul. Some think, in calling him Saul, 
he hints at that great persecutor of David, whose 
name he bore. He was indeed a second Saul, and 
such an enemv to the Son of D;nid as he was to Da- 
vid. Calling him bv his name intimates the parti- 
cular regard that Christ had to him ; I have sur- 
named thee, though Ihou } u(^t not kricivii me, Isa. 
45. 4. See Exod! 33. 12. His crlling him by name 
brought the conviction h( me to his conscience, and 
put it past dispute to whcm the voice spake this. 



90 



THE ACTS, IX. 



Note, What God speaks in general, is then likely to 
do U5i good, when we apply it to ourselves, and insert 
our own names into the precepts and promises which 
are expressed generally ; as if God spake to us by 
name, and when he saith, //o, every one, he had 
said. Ho, such a one : Samuel, Samuel ; Saul, Saul. 

The doubling of it, Saul, Saul, intimates, First, 
The deep sleep that Saul was in ; he needed to be 
called again and again, as Jer. 22. 29. O earth, 
earth, earth. Secondly, The tender concern that 
the blessed Jesus had tor him, and for his recovery ; 
he speaks as one in earnest ; it is like Martha, Mar- 
tha, (Luke 10. 41.) or Simon, Simon, (Luke 22. 31.) 
or O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Matt. 23. 37. He speaks 
to him as to one in imminent danger, at tlie pit's 
brink, and just ready to drop in ; " Saul, Saul, dost 
thou know whither thou art going, and what thou 
art doing ?" 

[2.] The charge exhibited against him, is. Why 
fiersecvtest thou me? Observe here. First, Before 
Saul was made a saint, he is made to see himself a 
sinner, a great sinner, a sinner against Christ. Now 
he was made to see that evil by himself which he 
never saw before ; sin revived and he died. Note, 
A humbling conviction of sin is the first step to- 
wards a saving conversion from sin. Secondly, He 
is convinced of one particular sin, which he was 
most notoriously guilty of, and had justified himself 
in, and thereby way is made for his conviction of all 
the rest. Thirdly, The sin he is convinced of, is, 
persecution ; Ji7iy fiersecutest thou me ? It is a very 
affectionate expostulation, enough to melt a heart of 
stone. 01)serve, 1. The person sinning ; " It is thou ; 
t]\ou, that art not one of the ignorant, rude, unthink- 
ing crowd, that will run down any thing they hear 
put into an ill name, but thou that hast had a libe- 
ral, learned education, hast good parts and accom- 
plishments, hast the knowledge of the scriptures, 
which, if duly considered, would shew thee the 
folly of it. It is worse in thee than in another." 2. 
The person sinned against ; " It is I, who never did 
thee any harm, who came from heaven to earth to 
do thee good ; who was not long since crucified for 
thee ; and was that not enough, but must I afresh 
be crucified by thee ?" 3. The kind and continu- 
ance of the sin. It was persecution, and he was at 
this time engaged in it ; " Not only thou hast per- 
secuted, but thou persecutest, thou persistest in it." 
He was not at this time haling any to prison, or kill- 
ing them : but that was the errand he came upon to 
Damascus ; he was now projecting it, and pleasing 
himself with the thought of it. Note, They that 
are designing mischief, are, in God's account, doing 
mischief. 4. The question put to him upon it ; 
" Why dost thou do it ?" (1.) It is complaining lan- 
guage. " Why dealest thou unjustly, thus unkindly, 
with my disciples ?" Christ never complained so 
much of those who persecuted him in his own per- 
son as he did here of those who persecuted him in 
his followers. He complains of it as it was Saul's 
sin; "Why art thou such an enemy to thyself, to 
thy God ?" Note, The sins of sinners are a very 
^ievous burthen to the Lord Jesus. He is grieved 
for them, (Mark 3. 5- ) he is pressed under them, 
Amos 2. 13. (2.) It is convincmg language, "Why 
dost thou thus ? Canst thou give any good reason 
for It ?" Note, It is good for us often to ask our- 
selves why we do so and so, that we mav discern 
what an unreasonable thing sin is : and of all sins 
none so unreasonable, so unaccountable, as the sin 
of persecuting the disciples of Christ, especially 
when it is discovered to be, as certainly it is, i)erse- 
cuting Christ. Those have no knowledge, who eat 
up God's people, Ps. 14. 4. IMiy fiersecutest thou 
me? He thought he was persecuting only a com- 
pany of poor, weak, silly peojile, that were an of- 
fence and eye-sore to the Pharisees, little imagining 



that it was one in heaven that he was all this while 
insulting ; for surely if he had known, he would not 
have persecuted the Lord of glory. Note, Those 
who persecute the saints, persecute Christ himself, 
and he takes what is done against them as done 
against himself, and accordingly will be the judg- 
ment in the great day. Matt. 25. 45. 

5. Saul's question upon his indictment, and the re- 
ply to it, V. 5. 

(1.) He makes inquiry concerning Christ ; JVho 
art thou. Lord ? He gives no direct answer to the 
charge preferred against him, being convicted by 
his own conscience, and self-condemned. If God 
contend with us for our sins, we are not able to an- 
swer for one of a thousand, especially such a one as 
the sin of persecution. Convictions of sin, when 
tl].ey are set home with power upon the conscience, 
will silence all excuses and self-justifications. 
Though I were righteous, yet ivould I not ansiver. 
But he desires to know who is his judge ; the com- 
pellation is respectful ; Lord. He who had been a 
blasphemer of Christ's name, now speaks to him as 
his Lord. The question is proper, Who art thou ? 
This implies his present unacquaintedness with 
Christ ; he knew not his voice as his own sheep do, 
but he desires to be acquainted with him ; he is con- 
vinced by this light which incloses him, that it is 
one from heaven that speaks to him, and he has a 
veneration for every thing that appears to him to 
come from heaven ; and therefore. Lord, tuho art 
thQU? What is thy 7iame ? Judg. 13. 17. Gen. 32. 
29. Note, There is then some hope of people, when 
they begin to inquire after Jesus Christ. 

(2.) He has an answer immediately, in which we 
have, 

[1.] Christ's gracious revelation of himself to him. 
He is always ready to answer the serious inquiries 
of those who covet an acquaintance with him. I am 
Jesus nvhom thou fiersecutest. The name of Jesus 
was not unknown to him, his heart had risen against 
it many a time, and gladly would he bury it in obli- 
vion ; he knew it was the name that he persecuted, 
but little did he think to hear it from heaven, or 
from the midst of such a glory as now shone round 
about him. Note, Christ brings souls into fellow- 
ship with himself, by manifesting himself to them. 
He said. First, I am Jesus, a Saviour, I am Jesus 
of JNazareth, so it is, ch. 22. 8. Saul used to call 
him so when he blasphemed him ; " I am that verj' 
Jesus whom thou usedst to call in scorn Jesus of 
JVazareth." And he would shew that now that he 
is in glory, he is not ashamed of his humiliation. Se- 
condly, "lam that Jesus whom thou persecutest, 
and therefore it is at thy pej-il if thou persist in 
this wicked course." There is nothing more effec- 
tual to awaken and humble the soul than to see sin 
to be against Christ, an affront to him, and a con- 
tradiction to his designs. 

[2.] His gentle reproof of him ; It is hard for thee 
to kick against the pricks, or goads ; to spvmi at the 
spur. It is hard, it is in itself an absin-d and evil 
thing, and will be of fatal consequence to him that 
does it. Those kick at the goad, that stifle and 
smother the convictions of conscience, that rebel 
against God's truths and law.s, that quarrel with his 
providences, and that persecute :>nd oppose his min- 
isters, because they reprove them, and their words 
are as goads and as nails. They that revolt more 
and more, when they are stiickcn by tlic word or 
rod of God, that are enrai;ed at reproofs, and fly in 
the face of their reprovers, they kick against the 
pricks, and will have a deal to answer for. 

6. His surrender of himself to the Lord Jesus at 
length, V. 6. See here, 

(1.) The frame and temper he was in, when 
Christ had been dealing with him. [1.] He trem- 
bled, as one in a gi-eat fright. Note, Strong convic- 



THE ACTS, IX. 



91 



tions, set home by the blessed Spirit, will make an 
awakened soul to tremble. How can those choose 
but tremble, that are made to see the eternal God 
provoked against them, the whole creation at war 
with them, and their own souls upon the brink of 
ruin ! [2.] He was astonished, was filled with 
amazement, as one brought into a new world, that 
knew not where he was. Note, The convincing, 
.converting, work of Christ is astonishing to the 
awakened soul, and fills it with admiration. " What 
IS this that God has done with me, and what will 
he do r 

(2. ) His address to Jesus Christ, when he was in 
this frame ; Lord, nvhat nvilt thou have me to do ? 
Which may be taken, [1.] As a serious request for 
Christ's teachings; "Lord, I see I have hitherto 
been out of the way ; thou that hast shewed me my 
error, set me to rights ; thou hast discovered sin to 
me, discover to me the way to pardon and peace. " It 
is like that. Men and brethren, ivhat must we do ? 
Note, A serious desire to be instructed by Christ in 
the way of salvation is an evidence of a good work 
began in the soul. Or, [2.] As a sincere resignation 
of himself to the conduct and government of the 
Lord Jesus. This was the first word that grace 
spake in. Paul, and with this began a spiritual life ; 
Lord Jesus, What wilt thou have me to do ? Did not 
he know what he had to do ? Had he not his com- 
mission in his pocket ? And what hacj he to do but 
to execute it ? No, he had done enough of this work 
already, and resolves now to change his master, 
and employ himself better. Now it is not, JVhat 
•will the High-Priest and the elders have me to do ? 
What will my own wicked afi/ietites and fiassions 
have me to do ? But, What wilt thou have me to do ? 
The great change in conversion is wrought upon the 
will, and consists in the resignation of that to the 
will of Christ. 

(3. ) The general direction Christ gave him, in 
answer to this; Jlrise,go into the city of Damascus, 
which thou art now near to, and it shall be told thee 
what thou must do. It is encouragement enough to 
have further instruction promised him ; but, [1.] 
He must not have it yet ; it shall be told him shortly 
what he must do, but, for the present, he must pause 
upon what has been said to him, and improve that. 
Let him consider a while what he has done in per- 
secuting Christ, and be deeply humbled for tkat, 
and then he shall be told what he has further to uo. 
[2. ] He must not have it in this way, by a voice 
from heaven, for it is plain he cannot bear it ; he 
trembles, and is astonished ; he shall be told there- 
fore what he must do, by a man like himself, whose 
terror shall not make him afraid, nor his hand be 
heavy upon him ; which Israel desired at mount 
Sinai. ()r, it is an intimation that Christ would take 
some other time to manifest himself further to him, 
when he was more composed, and this fright pretty 
well over. Christ manifests himself to his people 
bv degrees ; and. both what he does, and would have 
them to do, though they know not now, they shall 
know hereafter. 

7. How far his fellow-travellers were affected 
with this, and what impression it made upon them. 
They fell to the earth, as he did, but rose without 
oeing bidden, which he did not, but lay still till it 
was said to him, jirise ; for he lav under a heavier 
load than anv of them did ; but when they were up, 
(1.) They stood s/ieechlrss, as men in confusion, 
and that was all, v. 7. They were going on the 
same wicked errand that Paul was, and perhaps, 
to the best of their power, were as spiteful as he ; 
yet we do not find that any of them were converted, 
though they saw the light, and were struck down, 
and struck dumb by it. No external means will, 
)f themselves, work a change in the soul, without 
the Spirit and grace of God, which distinguishes 



between some and others : among these that jour- 
neyed together, one is taken, and the others left. 
They stood speechless; none of them saitl, M'ho 
art thou. Lord? or, What wilt thou have me to 
do ? as Paul did : but none of God's children are 
bom dumb. 

(2.) They heard a voice, but saw no man ; they 
heard Paul speak, but saw not him to whom he 
spake, nor heard distinctly what was said to him ; 
which reconciles it with what is said of this matter, 
{ch. 22. 9.) where it is said. They saw the light and 
were afraid ; which they might do, and vet see no 
man in the light, as Paul did ; and that they heard 
not the voice of him that spake to Paul, so as to un- 
derstand what he said, though they did hear a con- 
fused noise. Thus they who came hither to be the 
instruments of Paul's rage against the church, serve 
for witnesses of the power of God over him. 

8. What condition Saul was in after this, v. 8, 9. 

(1.) He arose from the earth, whei* Christ bid 
him, but, probably, not without help, the vision had 
made him so fainty and weak, I will not sav like 
Belshazzar, when the joints of his loins were loosed, 
and his knees smote one against another, but like 
Daniel, when upon the sight of a vision, no strength 
remained in him, Dan. 10. 16, IT. 

(2.) When his eyes were opened, he found that his 
sight was gone, and he saw 710 man, none of the men 
that were with him, and began now to be busy 
about him. It was not so much this ghiring light, 
that, by dazzling his eyes, had dimmed them — j\'i- 
mium sensibile leedit sensum ; for then those with 
him would have lost their siglit too ; but it was a 
sight of Christ, whom the rest saw not, that had 
this effect upon him. Thus a believing sight of the 
glory of God in the face of Christ, dazzles the eyes 
to all things here below. Christ, in order to fur- 
ther the discovery of himself and his gospel to Paul, 
took him off from the sight of other things, which 
he must look off, that he may look unto Jesus, and to 
him only. 

(3.) They led him by the hand into Da7nascu8 ; 
whether to a public house, or to some friend's house, 
is not certain : but thus he who thought to have led 
the disciples of Christ prisoners and captives to 
Jerusalem, was himself led a prisonei- and a captive 
to Christ into Damascus. He was thus taught what 
need he had of the grace of Christ to lead his soul 
(being naturally blind and apt to mistake) into all 
truth. 

(4. ) He lay without sight, and without food, nei- 
ther did eat nor drink for three days, v. 9. I do not 
think, as some do, that now he had his rapture into 
the third heavens, wiiich he speaks of, 2 Cor. 12. 
So far from that, that we have reason to think he 
was all this time rather in the belly of hell, suffering 
God's terrors for his sins, which were now set in 
order before him : he was in the dark concerning 
his own spiritual state, and was so wounded in spi- 
rit for sin, that he could relish neither meat nor 
drink. 

10. And there was a certain disciple at 
Damascus, \iamed Ananias ; and to hini 
said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And 
he said, Behold, I am here. Lord. 1 1. And 
the Lord snid unto him, Arise, and s:o into 
the street which is called Straight, and en- 
quire in the house of .Tudas for one called 
Saul of Tarsus: for, behold he prayeth, 
12. And hath seen in a vision a man named 
Ananias comins: in, and puttinjr /ns hand 
on him, that he mig;ht receive his siisht. 13. 
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have 



92 



THE ACTS, IX. 



heard by many of this man, how much evil 
he hath done to th^ saints at Jerusalem : 
14. And here he hath authority h'om the 
Chief Priests to bind all that call on thy 
name. 15. But the Lord said unto him, 
Go thy way : for he is a chosen vessel unto 
me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, 
and kings, and the children of Israel : 16. 
For 1 will shew him how great things he 
must suffer for my name's sake. 1 7. And 
Ananias went his way, and entered into 
the house ; and putting his hands on him 
said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, 
that appeared unto thee in the way as thou 
earnest, hath sent me, that thou mightest 
receive tiiy sight, and be filled with the 
Holy Ghost. 1 8. And immediately there 
fell I'rom his eyes as it had been scales : and 
he received sight forthwith, and arose, and 
was baptized. 19. And when he had re- 
ceived meat he was strengthened. Then 
was Saul certain days with the disciples 
\\'hich were at Damascus. 20. And straight- 
way he preached Christ in the synagogues, 
that he is the Son of God. 21. But all 
that heard him were amazed, and said; Is 
not this he that destroyed them which call- 
ed on this name in Jerusalem, and came 
hither for that intent, that he might bring 
them bound unto the Chief Priests ? 22. 
But Saul increased the more in strength, 
and confounded tlie Jews which dwelt at 
Damascus, proving that this is very Christ. 

As for God, his work is perfect ; if he begin, he 
will make an end ; a good work was begun in Saul, 
when he was lirought to Christ's feet, in that word. 
Lord, w/ialivi/t thou have me to do ? And never did 
Christ leave any that were brought to that. Though 
Saul was sadly mortified when he lay three days 
blind, yet he was not abandoned ; Christ here takes 
care of the work of his own hand-s ; he tliat hatli 
torn, will heal ; that hath smitten, will bind up ; that 
hath convinced, will comfort. 

I. Ananias is here ordered to go and look after 
him, to heal and help him ; for he that causeth grief, 
will have compassion. 

1. The person employed is Ananias, a certain dis- 
cifile at Damascus, not lately driven thither from Je- 
rusalem, but a native of Damascus ; for it is said, {cfi. 
22. 12. ) that he had a good rcjiort of all the Jews which 
dwelt there, as a devout ?nan according to the law ; 
he had lately emliraced the gospel, and given up his 
name to Christ, and, as it should seem, officiated as 
a minister, at least firo hac vice — on this occasion, 
though it does not appear he was apostolically ordain- 
ed. But why were not some of the apostles from Je- 
rusalem sent for upon this great occasion, or Philip 
the evangelist, who had lately baptized the eunuch, 
and might have been fetched hither by the Spirit in 
a little time ? Surely, because Christ would emj^loy 
variety of hands in eminent services, that the ho- 
nours might not be monopolized, or engrossed by a 
few ; bee uise he would put work into the hands, 
and tlierebv ])ut honour v\pon the heads, of those 
that w^'re mean and oljscure, to encourage them ; 
and because he would direct us to make much of the 
ministers that are where our lot is cast, if they have 



obtained mercy to be faithful, though they are not 
of the most eminent. 

2. The direction given him, is, to go and inquire 
at such a house, probably an inn, for one Saul of 
Tarsus. Christ, in a vision, called to Ananias by 
name, v. 10. It is likely, it was not the first time 
that he had heard the words of God, and seen the 
visions of the Almighty; for, without terror or con- 
fusion, he readily answei-s, "Behold, I am here. 
Lord, ready to go wherever thou sendest me, and 
to do whatever thou biddestnie. " Go then, saith 
Christ, into the street which is called Straight, and 
inquire in the house of Judas, where strangers used 
to lodge, for one called Saul of 7\irsus. Note, 
Christ very well knows where to find out those that 
are his, in their distresses : when their relations, 
it may be, know not what is become of them, they 
have a friend in heaven, that knows in what .street, 
in what house, nay, and which is more, in what 
frame, they are : he knows their souls in adversity. 

3. Two reasons are given him why he must go 
and inquire for this stranger, and offer him his ser- 
vice : 

( 1. ) Because he prays, and his coming to him must, 
answer his prayer. This is a reason, [].] Why 
Ananias needed not to be afraid of him, as we find 
he was, v. 13, 14. There is no question, saith Christ, 
but he is a true convert, for behold, he prayeth. 
Behold, notes. the certainty of it ; " Assure thyself 
it is so ; go, and see." Christ was so pleased to find 
Paul praying, that he must have others to take notice 
of it ? Rejoice with me, for I have found the sheep, 
which I had lost. It notes also the strangeness of it ; 
" Behold, and wonder, that he who but the other 
day breathed nothing but threatenings and slaughter, 
now breathes nothing but prayer."" But was it such 
a strange thing for Saul to pray ? \\'as he not a Pha- 
risee, and have we not reason to think he did, as the 
rest of them did, make long prayers in the syna- 
gogues and in the corners of the streets ? Yes ; but 
now he began to pray after another manner than he 
had done ; then he said his prayers, now \\(t prayed 
them. Note, Regenerating grace evermore sets 
people on praying ; you may as well find a living 
man without breath as a living christian without 
prayer ; if breathless, lifeless ; and so if prayerless, 
graceless. [2.] As a reason why Ananias must go 
to hun with all speed ; it is no time to linger, fir 
behold, he prayeth : if the child cry, the tender 
nurse hastens to it with the breast. Saul here, like 
Ephraim, is bemoaning himself, reproaching him- 
self, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke, and 
kicking against the gosd. " Oh ! go to him quickly, 
and tell him he is a dear son, a pleasant child, and 
since I sfiake against him, for persecuting me, I do 
earnestly remember him still," Jer. 31. 18 — 20. 
Observe what condition Saul was now in. He was 
under conviction of sin, trembling, and astonished ; 
the setting of sin in order before us should drive us 
to prayer. He was under a bodily affliction, blind 
and sick; and, Is any afflicted? Let him pray. 
Clirist had promised him, that it should be further 
told him what he shoukf do, {y. 6. ) and he prays 
tliat one may lie sent to him to instruct him. Note, 
What God has promised, we must pray for ; he will 
for this be inquired of, and particularly for divine 
instruction. 

(2.) Because he hath seen in a vision such a man 
coming to him, to restore him to his sight ; and .\na- 
nias's coming to him must answer liis dream, for it 
was of God, V. 12. Ue hath seen in a vision a man 
named Ananias, and just such a man as thou art, 
coming in seasonably for his relief, and fiutting his 
hand on him, that he might receive his sight. Now 
this vision which Paul had, may be considered, [1.] 
As an immediate answer to his jjrayer, and the 
keeping up of that communion with God, which he 



THE ACTS, IX. 



93 



had entered into by prayer. He liad, in prayer, 
spread the misery of his own case before God ; and 
liod presently manifests himself, and the kind in- 
tentions of his gi-ace to him ; and it is very encour- 
aging to know God's thoughts to usward. [2. ] As 
designed to raise his expectations, and to make Ana- 
nias's coming more welcome to him. He would 
readily receive him as a messenger from God, when 
he was told beforehand, in vision, that one of that 
n^vme would come to liim. See what a great thing 
it is to bring a spiritual physician and his patient to- 
gether : here are two visions in order to it ! When 
God, in his providence, does it without visions, brings 
a messenger to the afHicted soul, an interpreter, one 
among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness, 
it must be acknowledged with thankfulness to his 
praise. 

n. Ananias objects against going to him, and the 
Lord answers the objection. See how condescend- 
ingly the Lord admits his servant to reason with him. 

1. Ananias pleads, that this Saul was a notorious 
persecutor of the disciples of Christ, 1). 13, 14. (1.) 
He had been so at Jerusalem ; '• Lord, I have heard 
by many of this ma?!, what a malicious enemy he is 
to the gospel of Christ : all those that were scattered 
upon the late persecution, many of whom are come 
to Damascus, tell how much evil he hath done to thy 
saints in Jerusalem ; that he was the most virulent, 
violent persecutor of all the rest, and a ringleader in 
the mischief; what havoc he has made nftlic church : 
there was no man they were more afraid of, no, not 
the High-Priest himself, than of Saul ; nay," (2.) 
" His errand to Damascus at this time is to perse- 
cute us christians ; here he has authority from the 
chi^f firiests to hind all that call on thy name; to 
treat the worshippers of Christ as tlie wor.st of cri- 
minals." Now, why does Ananias object this .' Not, 
"Therefore I do not owe him so much service. 
Why should I do him a kindness, who has done and 
designed us so much unkindness ?" No, Christ has 
taught us another lesson, to render good for evil, and 
pray for our persecutoi-s ; but, if he be ?uch a per- 
secutor of christians, [1.] Will it be safe for Ananias 
to go to him ? Will he not tlirow himself like a lamb 
into the mouth of a lion ? And if he thus bring him- 
self into trouble, he will be blamed for his inidiscre- 
tion. [2.] Will it be to any purpose to go to him .■' 
Can such a hard heart ever be softened, or such an 
Ethiopian ever change his skin ? 

2. Christ over: rules the objection ; {v. 15, 16.) 
** Do not tell me how bad he has been, I know it very 
well ; but go thy way with all speed, and give him 
all the help thou canst, for he is a chosen vessel, or 
instrument, unto me : I design to put confidence 
in him, and then thou needest not fear him." He 
was a \cs' L'l in which the gospel-treasure should be 
lodged, in order to the conveyance of it to many ; an 
earthen vessel, (2 Cor. 4. 7.) but a chosen vessel. 
The vessel God uses, he himself chooses ; and it is 
fit he should himself have the choosing of the instru- 
ments he employs ; (John 15. 16.) Ye have not cho- 
sen me, hut I have chosen you. He is a vessel of 
honour, and must not be neglected in his present 
forlorn condition, or thrown away as a despised bro- 
ken vessel, or a \'essel in which thei'e is no pleasure : 
he is designed, (1.) For eminent services : He is to 
bear my name before the Gentiles, is to be the apos- 
tle of the Gentiles, and to cany the gospel to heathen 
nations. Christ's name is the standard to which 
souls must be gathered, and under which they must 
be listed, and Saul must be a standard-bearer, he 
must bear Christ's name, must bear witness to it 
before kings, king Agrippa and Cxsar himself ; nay, 
he must bear it before the children of Israel, though 
there were so many hands already at work about 
them. (2.) For eminent sufferings; {v. 16.) I will 
shew him. how g-reaf thvis(s /"■ 7nust suffer for my 



name's sake. He that has been a persecutor, shall 
be himself persecuted. Christ's shewing him this, 
intimates either his bringing him to these trials, (as 
Ps. 60. 3.) Thou hast shewed thy peofile hard thiniis, 
or his giving notice of them beforehand, that thty 
might be no surprise to him. Note, Those tliat bear 
Christ's name, must expect to bear the cross for his 
name ; and those that do most for Christ, are ofttn 
called out to suffer most for him. Saul must suffer 
great things. This, one would think, was cold com- 
fort for a young convert ; but is is only like telling a 
soldier of a bold and brave spirit, when he is enlisted, 
that he shall take the field, and enter ujjon acticn, 
shortly. Saul's sufferings for Christ shall redound 
so much to the honour of Christ and the ser\ ice ct 
the church, sliall be so balanced with spiritual com- 
forts, and recompensed with eternal glories, that it 
is no discouragement to him to be told how great 
things he must suffer for Christ's name's sake. 

HI. Ananias presently goes on Christ's errand to 
Saul, and with good effect ; he had started an objec- 
tion against going to him, but when an answer was 
given to it, he dropped it, and did not insist upon it. 
When difficulties are removed, what have we to do, 
I)ut to go on with our work, and not hang upon an 
objection ? 

1. Ananias delivered his message to Saul, v. 17. 
Probably, he found him in bed, and applied to him 
as a patient. (1. ) He put his hands on him. It was 
promised, as f)ne of the signs that shall follow them 
that believe, that they should lay hands on the sick, 
and they should recover, (Mark 16. 18.) and it was 
for that intent that he put his hands on him. Saul 
came to lay violent hands upon the disciples at Da- 
mascus, but here a disciple lays a helping, healing 
hand upon him. The blood-thirsty hate the u/iriffht, 
but the just seek his soul. (2.) He called him bro- 
ther, because he was made a partaker of the grace 
of God, tliough not yet baptized ; and his readiness 
to ovyn him as a brother, intimated to him God's 
readiness to own him as a son, though he had been 
a blasphemer of Ciod, and a persecutor of his chil- 
dren. (3.) He produces his commission fn m the 
same hand that had laid hold on him bv the way, 
and now had him in custody. "That same Jesus 
that appeared unto thee in the way as thou earnest, 
and convinced thee of thy sin in persecuting him, 
has now sent me to thee to comfort thee." Una 
eademque manus vulnus ofiemque tulit — The hand 
that wounded, heals. " His light struck thee blind, 
but he hath sent me to thee that thou mightest receive 
thy sight ; for the design was not to blind thine eyes, 
but to dazzle them, that thou mightest see things by 
another light : he that then put clay u])on thine 
eyes, hath sent me to wash them that they may be 
cured." Ananias might deliver his message to fiaul 
very appositely in the prophet's words ; (Hos. 6. 1, 
2.) Come and turn to the Lord, for he hath torn, 
and he will heal thee ; he hath smitten, attd he will 
bind thee u/i ; now after two days he will revix'e 
thee, and the third day he will raise thee up, and 
thou shalt live in his sight. Corrosives shall be no 
more applied, but lenitives. (4.) He assures him 
that he shall not only have his sight restored, but 
be filled with the Holy Ghost : he'must himself be 
an apostle, and must in nothing come behind the 
chief of the apostles, and therefore must receive 
the Holy Ghost immediately, and not, as others did, 
by the interposition of the apostles ; and Ananias's 
putting his hands upon him before he was l)aptized, 
was for the conferring of the Holy Ghrst. 

2. Ananias saw the good issue of his mission, 
(1.) In Christ's favour to Saul. At the word of 

Ananias, Saul was discharged from his confinement 
by the restoring of his sight ; for Christ's commis- 
sion to open the prison to them that were boimd, 
(Isa. 61. 1.) is explained by the giving of sight tc* 



94 



THE ACTS, IX. 



the blind, Luke 4. 18. Christ's commission is to 
open the bhnd eyes, and to bi'ing out the prisoners 
from the prison. Saul is delivered from the spirit 
of bondage, by his receiving sight, {v. 18.) which 
was signified by the falling of scales from his eyes ; 
and this immediately, and forth vvith : the cure was 
sudden, to shew that it was miraculous. I'his sig- 
nified the recovering of him, [1.] From the dark- 
ness of his unconverted state : when he persecuted 
the church of God, and walked in the spirit and way 
of the Pharsees, he was blind, he saw not the mean- 
ing either of tlie law, or of the gospel, Rom. 7. 9. 
Christ often told the Pharisees that they were blind, 
and could not make them sensible of it ; they said, 
We see, John 9. 41. Saul is saved from his Phari- 
saical blindness, by being made sensible of it. Note, 
Converting grace opens the eyes of the soul, and 
makes the scales to fall from them, {ch. 26. 18.) to 
open men's eyes, and tui'n them from darkness to 
light : this was it that Saul was sent among the Gen- 
tiles to do, by the preaching of the gospel, and there- 
fore must first experience it in himself. [2.] From 
the darkness of his present terrors, under the ap- 
prehension of guilt upon his conscience, and the 
wrath of God against him ; this filled him with con- 
fusion, during those three days he sat in darkness, 
like Jonah for three days in the belly of hell ; but 
now the scales fell from his eyes, the cloud was 
scattered, and the Sun of righteousness rose upon his 
soul, with healing under his wings. 

(2.) In Saul's subjection to Christ ; he was bap- 
tized, and thereby submitted himself to the govern- 
ment of Christ, and cast himself upon the grace of 
Christ. Thus he was entered into Christ's school, 
hired into his family, listed under his banner, and 
joined himself to him for better for worse. The 
point was gained, it is settled ; Saul is now a disciple 
of Christ, not only ceases to oppose him, but devotes 
himself entirely to his service and honour. 

IV. The good work that was begun in Saul, is 
carried on wonderfully ; this new-born christian, 
though he seemed as one boiti out of due time, yet 
presently comes to maturity. 

1. He received his bodily strength, v. 19. He 
had continued three days fasting, which with the 
Tiighty weight that was all that time upon his spirits, 
had made him very weak ; but tvhen he had re- 
ceived meat, he nvas strengthened, i>. 19. The Lord 
is for the body, and therefore care must be taken of 
that, to keep it in good plight, that it may be fit to 
serve the soul in God's service, and that Christ may 
be magnified in it, Phil. 1. 20. 

2. He associated with the disciples that were at 
Damascus, fell in with them, conversed with them, 
went to their meetings, and joined in communion 
with them. He had lately breathed out threatetiings 
and slaughter against them, but now breathes love 
and affection to them. Now the ivolf dwells with 
the lamb, and fhe leofiard lies down with the kid, Isa. 
11. 6. Note, Those that take God for their God, 
take his people for their people. Saul associated 
with the discii)les, because now he saw an amiable- 
ness and excellency in tliem, because he loved them, 
and foimd that he imi)roved in knowledge and grace 
by conversing with them ; and thus he made profes- 
sion of his christian faith, and openly declared him- 
self a disciple of Christ, by herding' with those that 
were his disciples. 

3. //(' /i reached Christ in the synagogues, v. 20. 
To this he had an extraordinary call, and for it an 
extraordinary qualification, God having immediately 
revealed his Son to him and in him, that he might 
preach him. Gal. 1. 15, Ifi. He was so full of Christ 
hmiself, that the Sfiirit within him constrained him 
to preach him to others, and, like FAihu, to speak 
that he might be refreshed. Job 32. 20. Observe, 
fl.) Where he preached ; in the synagogues of the 



Jews ; for they were to have the first offer made 
them ; the synagogues were their places of con- 
course, there he met with them together, and there 
they used to preach against Christ, and to punish 
his disciples ; by the same token that Paul himself 
had punished them oft in every synagogue, {ch. 26. 
11.) and therefore there he would face the enemies 
of Christ, where they were most daring ; and openly 
profess Christianity there, where he had most op- 
posed it. (2. ) What he preached ; He preached 
Christ. When he began to be a preacher, he fixed 
that for his principle, which he stuck to ever after ; 
We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus our Lord; 
nothing but Christ, and hitn crucified. He preached 
concerning Christ, that he is the Son of God, his be- 
loved Son, in whom he is well pleased, and with us 
in him, and not otherwise. (3.) How people were 
affected with it ; {v. 21.) jill that heard hi?n were 
amazed, and said, *' Is not this he that destroyed 
them which called on this naine in Jerusalem, and 
now does he call on this name himself, and persuade 
others to call upon it, and strengthen the hands of 
those that do !" Quantum mutatus ab illo — Oh how 
changed I "Is Saul also among the prophets':^ Nay, 
did he not come hither for that intent, to seize all 
the christians he could find, and bring them bound 
to the chief priests ? Yes, he did. Who would have 
thought then, that lie sliould preach Christ as he 
does ?" Doubtless, this was looked upon by many 
as a great confirmation of the truth of Christianity, 
that one who had been such a notorious persecutor 
of it, came, on a sudden, to be such an intelligent, 
strenuous, and capacious preacher of it. This mira- 
cle upon the mind of such a man, outshone the mi- 
racles upon men's bodies ; and giving a man such 
another heart was more than giving men to speak 
with other tongues. 

4. He confuted and confounded those that op- 
posed the doctrine of Christ, v. 22. He signalized 
himself, not only in the pulpit, but in the schools, 
and shewed himself supernaturally enabled, not only 
to preach tlTe truth, but to maintain and defend it 
when he had preached it. (1.) He increased in 
strength ; he became more intimately acquainted 
with the gospel of Christ, and his pious affections 
grew more strong ; he grew more bold and daring 
and resolute in the defence of the gospel ; he increas- 
ed the more, for the reflections that were cast upon 
him, {v. 21.) in which his new friends upbraided 
him as having been a persecutor, and his old friends 
upbraided him as being now a turncoat ; but Saul, 
instead of being discouraged by tht various remarks 
made upon his conversion, was thereby so much the 
more imboldened, finding he had enough at hand 
wherewith to answei' the worst they could say of 
him. (2.) He ran down his antagonists, and con- 
founded the Jews which dwelt in Damascus ; he 
silenced them, and shamed them ; answered their 
objections to the satisfaction of all indifferent per- 
sons, and pressed them with arguments which they 
could make no reply to. In all his discourses with 
the Jews, he was still proving that this .lesms is very 
Christ, is the Christ, the Ajiointed of God, the true 
Messiah promised to the fathers. He was proving 
it, ffujuCiCd^iBV — ajpryriijig it and confirming it ; teach- 
ing with persuasion. And we have reason to think 
he was instrumental to convert many to the faith of 
Christ, and to build up the church at Damascus, 
which he came thither to make havoc of Thus, 
out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the 
strong sweetness, 

23. And after that many flays wore ful- 
filled, the Jews took counsel to kill him : 
24. But their laying await was known of 
Saul. And they watched the gates day 



THE ACTS, IX. 



95 



and night, to kill him. 25. Then the dis- 
ciples took him by night, and let him down 
by the wall, in a basket. 26. And when 
Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed 
to join himself to the disciples : but they 
were all afraid of him, and believed not 
that he was a disciple. 27. But Barnabas 
took him, and brought him to the apostles, 
and declared unto tiiem how he had seen 
the Lord in the way, and that he had 
spoken to him, and how he had preached 
boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 
28. And he was with them coming in and 
going out at Jerusalem. 29. And he spake 
boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and 
disputed against the Grecians : but they 
went about to slay him. 30. JVhich when 
the brethren knew, they brought him down 
to Cesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 
31. Then had the churches rest throughout 
all Judtea, and Galilee, and Samaria, and 
were edified ; and walking in the fear of 
the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy 
Ghost, were multiplied. 

Luke here makes no mention of Paul's journey 
into Arabia, wJiich he tells us himself was immedi- 
ately after his conversion, Gal. 1. 16, 17. As soon 
as Cod had revealed his Son in him, that he might 
fireach him, he loent not u/i to Jerusalem, to receive 
instructions from the apostles, (as any other convert 
would have done, that was designed for the minis- 
try,) but he went to Arabia, wliere there was new 
gi'ound to break up, and where he would have op- 

Kortunity of teaching, but not of learning ; thence 
e returned to Damascus, and there, three years 
after his conversion, this happened, which is here 
recorded. 

I. He met with difficulties at Damascus, and had 
a narrow escape of being killed there. Observe, 

1. What his danger was ; {v. 23. ) The Jews took 
counsel to kill hitn, being more enraged at him than 
at any other of the preachers of the gospel ; not 
only because he was more lively and zealous in his 

E reaching than any of them, and more successful, 
ut because he had been such a remarkable desert- 
er, and his being a christian was a testimony against 
them. It is said, {v. 24.) The Jews watched the 
gates day and night to kill him ; they incensed the 
governor against him, as a dangerous man, who 
therefore kefit the city with a guard to apprehend 
him, at his going out or coming in, 2 Cor. 11. 32. 
New Christ shewed Paul what great thiitgs he must 
sutler for his name, {v. 16.) when here is presently 
the government in arms against him, which was a 
great thing, and, as all his other sufferings after- 
ward, helped to make him considerable. Saul was 
no "ooner a christian than a preacher ; no sooner a 
preac'icr th?.r a sufferer ; so quick did he rise to the 
top ot '^'.i prei-rment ! Note, \\'here God gives 
great grace, he v'ommonly exercises it with great 
trials. \ 

2. How he was a\:livered. ( 1 . ) The design against 
him was discovei'ed ^ Their lying in wait was k7iown 
of Saul, by some intfe'ligence, whether from heaven 
or from men, we an; not told. (2.) The disciples 
contrived to help hin away, hid him, it is likely, 
by day, and in the night, the gates being watched, 
that he could not get away through them, they let 
him down by the wall, in a basket, as he himself 



relates it ; (2 Cor. 11. 33.) so he escaped cvt oftheii 
hands. This story, as it shews us that when we 
enter into the way of God we must look for tempta 
tion, an<l prepare accordingly ; so it shews us, that 
the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out oj 
temptation, and will with the temptation al.so makt 
a way to escape, that we ?nay not be by it deterret 
or driven from the way of God. 

II. He met with difficulties at Jei-usaltm the first 
time he went thither, v. 26. He came to Jerusalem. 
This is thought to be that Joumey to Jcmsalem, 
which he liimself speaks of; (Gal. 1. 18.) y/fter . 
three years I went iip to Jerusalem, saitli he, to see 
Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But I ra- 
ther incline to think tliat this was a journey before 
that, because his coming iii and going out, his 
preaching and disputing, {v. 28, 29.) seem to be 
more than would consist with his fifteen days' stay, 
(for that was no more,) and to require a longer time ; 
and besides, now he came a stranger, but then he 
came, iro/iiio-*/ ntT/iov — to confer with Peter, as one 
he was intimate with ; however, it might possibly 
be the same. Now observe, 

1. How shy his friends were of him ; {v. 26.) 
When he came to Jerusalem, he did not go to the chief 
priests and the Pharisees, (he had taken his leave 
of them long since,) but he assayed to join himself 
to the disciples ; wherever he came, he owntd him- 
self one of that despised persecuted people, and as- 
sociated with them ; they were now in his eyes the 
excellent ones of the earth, in whom was all his de- 
light ; he desired to be acquainted with them, and 
to be admitted into communion with them ; but they 
looked strange upon him, shut the door against him", 
and would not go about any of their religious exer- 
cises if he were by ; for they were afraid of him. 
Now might Paul be tempted to think himself in an 
ill case, when the Jews had abandoned and perse- 
cuted him, and the christians would not receive and 
entertain him. Thus does he fall into divers tempta- 
tions, and needs the armour of righteousness, as we 
all do, both on the right hand a7id on the left, that 
we may not be discouraged, either by the unjust 
treatment of our enemies, or the unkind treatment 
of our friends. 

(1.) See what was the cause of their jealousy of 
him ; They believed not that he was a disciple, but 
that he only pretended to be so, and came among 
them as a spy or an informer. They knew what a 
bitter persecutor he had been, with what fuiy he 
went to Damascus some time ago ; they had heard 
nothing of him since, and therefore thought he was 
but a wolf in sheep's clothing. The disciples of 
Christ need to be cautious whom they admit into 
communion with them. Believe 7iot every spirit. 
There is need of the wisdom of the serpent, to keep 
the mean between the extremes of suspicion on the 
one hand and credulity on the other; yet methinks 
it is safer to err on the charitable side, because it is 
an adjudged case, that it is better the tares should 
be found among the wheat than that the wheat 
should any of it be rooted up, and thrown out ot the 
field. 

(2.) See how it was removed; {v. 27.) Bamabak 
took him to the apostles themselves, who were not so 
scrupulous as the inferior disciples, to whom he first 
assayed to join himself, and he declared to fhe?n, [l."| 
What Christ had done for him — he had shewed him- 
self to him in the way, and s/ioken to liim ; and what 
he said. [2.] What he had since done for Christ; 
he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of 
Jesus. How Barnabas came to know this, more 
than the rest of them, we are not told ; whetlier he 
had himself been at Damascus, or had had letters 
from tnence, or discoursed with some of that city, 
by which he came to the knowledge of this ; or 
whether he had formerly been acquainted with Paid 



96 



THE ACTS, IX. 



in the Grecian synagogues, or at the feet of Gama- 
liel, and had such an account of his conversion from 
himself as he saw cause enough to give credit to ; so 
it was, that, being satisfied himself, he gave satisfac- 
tion to the apostles concerning him, he having 
brought no testimonials from the disciples at Da- 
mascus, thinking he needed not, as some others, 
efiistles of commendation, 2 Cor. 3. 1. Note, The 
introducing of a yonng convert into the communion 
of the faithful, is a very good work, and which, as 
we have opportunity, we should be ready to. 

2. How sharp his enenues were ui^on him : 

(1.) He was admitted into the communion of the 
disciples, which was no little provocation to his ene- 
mies. It vexed the unbelieving Jews, to see Saul a 
trophy of Christ's victory, and a captive to liis grace, 
who had been such a champion for their cause ; to 
see him coming- in, and going- out, with the afiostles, 
{y. 28. ) and to hear them glorying in him, or rather 
glorifying God in him. 

(2. ) He appeared \igorous in the cause of Christ, 
and this was yet more provoking to them ; {y. 29.) 
He sfiake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus. 
Note, Those that speak for Christ, have reason to 
speak boldly ; for they have a good cause, and speak 
for one who will at least speak for himself and them 
too. The Grecians, or Hellenist Jews, were most 
offended at him, because he had been one of them ; 
and they drew him into a dispute, in which, no 
doubt, he was too hard for them, as he had been for 
the Jews at Damascus. One of the martyrs said. 
Though she could not disjiute for Christ, she could 
CM for Christ ; but Paul could do both. Now the 
Lord Jesus divided the s/ioils of the strong man arjyied 
in Saul. For that same natural quickness and fer- 
vour of spirit, which, while he was in ignorance and 
unbelief, made him a furious bigoted persecutor of 
the faith, made him a most zealous courageous de- 
fender of the faith. 

(3.) This brought him into peril of his life, with 
which he narrowly escaped ; The Grecians, when 
they found they coiild not deal with him in disputa- 
tion, contrived to silence him another way ; they 
•went about to slay him, as they did Stephen, when 
they could not resist the S/iirit by which he spake, ch. 
6. 10. That is a bad cause, that has recourse to 
persecution for its last argument. But notice was 
given of this conspiracy ton, and effectual care taken 
to secure this young champion; {y. 30.) When the 
brethren knew what was'designed against him, they 
brought him down to Cesarea. They remembered 
how the putting of Stephen to death, upon his dis- 
puting with the Grecians, had been the beginning 
of a sore persecution ; and tlierefore were afraid of 
having such a vein opened again, and hastened Paul 
out of the way. He that flies, may fight again ; he 
that fled from Jerusalem, might do service at Tar- 
sus, the ])lace of his nativity ; and thither they de- 
sired him l)y all means to go, in hopes he might go 
on in his work with more safety than at Jerusalem. 
Yet it was also by direction from heaven that he left 
Jerusalem at this time, as he tells us himself, {ch. 
22. 17, 18.) that Christ now appeared to him, and 
ordered liim lo go t/uickly out of Jerusalem, for he 
must be sent to the Grntile.i, v. 21. Those l)y whom 
God has work to do, shall be protected from all the 
designs of their enemies against them till it is done. 
Christ^s tvitnesses cannot Ije slain till they have 
finished their testitnony . 

III. The churches had now a comfortable gleam 
of libertv and ])eace ; {v. 31.) Then had the churches 
rest. Then, when Saul was converted, so some ; 
when that persecutor was taken off, those were 
quiet, whom he used to irritate ; and then those 
were quiet whom he used to molest. Or, then, 
when he was gone from Jerusalem, the fury of the 
Grecian Jews was a little abated^ and they were the 



more willing to bear with the other preachers now 
that Saul was gone out of the way. Observe, 

1. The churches had rest. .After a storm comes 
a calm. Though we are always to expect trouble- 
some times, yet we may expect that they shall not 
last always. This was a breathing-time allowed 
them, to prepare them for the next encounter. 
The churches that were already jjlanted, were 
mostly in Judea, Galilee, and Samaria, within the 
limits of the Holy Land. There were the first 
christian churches, where Christ had himself laid 
the foundation. 

2. They made a good use of this lucid interval. 
Instead of growing secure and wanton in the day of 
their prospei-ity, they abounded more in their duty, 
and made a good use of their tranquillity. ( 1. ) They 
were edified, were built up. in their most holy faith ; 
the more free and constant enjoyment they had of 
the means of knowledge and grace, the more they 
increased in knowledge and grace. (2. ) They walk - 
ed i}i the fear of t lie Lord; were more exemplary 
themselves for a holy heavenly conversation. They 
lived so as that all who conversed with them might 
say. Surely the fear of God reigns in those people. 
(3.) Theij walked in the con fort of the Holy Ghost ; 
they were not only faithful, but cheerful, in religion; 
they stuck to the ways of the Lord, and sang in those 
ways. The comfort of tlie Holy Ghost was their 
consolation, and that which they made their chief 
joy. They had recourse to the comfort cjf the Holy 
Ghost, and lived upon that, not only in da}s of trou- 
ble and affliction, but in days of rest and prosperity. 
The comforts of the earth, when they had the most 
free and full enjoyment of them, could not content 
them without the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Ob- 
serve the connection of these two ; when they walkei 
in the fear of the Lord, then they walked in the 
comfort of the Holy Ghost. Those are most likely 
to walk cheerfully, that walk circumspectly. 

3. God blessed it to them for theii- inciease in 
number; They were multiplied. Sometimes the 
church multiplies the more for its being afflicted, a«i 
Israel in Egypt ; )et if it were always so, tlie saints 
of the Most High would be worn out ; at other time? 
its rest contributes to its growth, as it enlarges the 
opportunity of ministers, and invites tliose in, who 
at first are afraid of suffering. Or, then, when they 
walked in the fear of God and his comforts, then they 
were multiplied. Thus they that will not be won by 
the word, may be won by the conrersation of pro- 
fessors. 

32. And it came to pass, as Peter passed 
throughout all quarU.rs, he came down also 
to the saints which dwelt at L^'dda. 33. 
And there he found a certain man named 
Eneas, which had kept his bed eight years, 
and was sick of tlie palsy. 34. And Peter 
said unto him, Eneas, Jesns Christ maketh 
thee whole : arise, and make thy bed. And 
he arose immediately. 35. And all that 
dwelt in Lydda and Saron saw him, and 
turned to the Lord. 

Here we have, 

I. The visit Peter made to the churches that were 
newlv planted bv the dis]iersed ])i-eachers, v. 32. 

1. He passed through all (juarters ; as an ;'.j)ostle, 
he was not to be the I'esident pastrr of any one 
church, but the itinerant visitor of nviny churches; 
to confirm the doctrine of inferior i)reac)iers, to con- 
fer the Holy Ghost on them that believed, and to or- 
dain ministers. He passed iia -nravTac — among thew 
all, who pertained to the chmxhes of Judea, Gali- 
lee, and Samaria, mentioned in the foregoing chap- 



THE ACTS, IX. 



97 



ter. He was, like his Master, always upon the re- 
move, and went about doing- good; but still his head- 
quarters were at Jerusalem, for there we shall find 
Lim imprisoned, c/i. 12. 

2. He came to the saints at Lydda ; this seems to 
be the same with Lod, a city in the tribe of Benja- 
min, mentioned 1 Chron. 8. 12. Ezra 2. 33. The 
christians are called saints, not only some particular 
eminent ones, as saint Peter, and saint Paul, but 
every sincere professor of the faith of Christ. These 
are the saints on the earth, Ps. 16. 3. 

II. The cui'e Peter wrought on Eneas, a man that 
had been bedrid eight years, v. 33. 

1. His case was very deplorable ; he was sick of 
the palsy, a dumb palsy, perhaps a dead palsy ; the 
disease was extreme, for he kefit his bed; it was in- 
veterate, for he kept his bed eight years; and we 
may suppose that both he himself and all about him 
despaired of relief for him, and concluded upon no 
other than that he must still keep his bed till he re- 
moved to his grave. Christ chose such patients as 
those, whose diseases were incurable in a course of 

• nature, to shew how desperate the case of fallen 
mankind was when he undertook their cure. When 
we were without strength, as this poor man, he sent 
his word to heal us. 

2. His cure was very admirable, v. 34. (1. ) Peter 
interested Christ in his case, and engaged him for 
his relief ; Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole. 
Peter does not pretend to do it himself by any power 
of his own, but declares it to be Christ's act and 
deed, and directs him to look up to Christ for help, 
and assures him of an immediate cure ; not, "He 
■7i/// make thee," but, " He c/ora make thee, whole :" 
he assures him also of a perfect cure; not, "He 
makes thee easy," hut, "He makes thee whole." 
He does not express himself by way of prayer to 
Christ that he would make him whole, but as one 
having authority from Christ, and that knew his 
mind, he declares him made whole. (2.) He or- 
dered him to bestir himself, to exert himself, "Arise 
and maki^ thy bed, that all may see thou art tho- 
roughly cured." Let none sa)-, that because it is 
Chi-ist that by the power of his grace works all our 
works in us, therefore we have no work, no duty, to 
do ; for though Jesus Christ makes thee whole, yet 
thou must arise, and.make use of the power he gives 
thee. Arise, and make thy bed, for another use 
than it has been, to be a bed of rest to thee, no 
longer a bed of sickness. (3.) Power went along 
with this woi-d : he arose immediately, and, no 
doubt, very willingly made his own bed. 

III. The good influence this had upon many ; (r. 
35. ) All that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, 
and turned to the Lord. We can scarcely think 
tliat ever}' individual person m those countries took 
cognizance of the miracle, and was wrought upon by- 
it, but many, the generality of the people in the 
town of Lydda and in the country of Saron, or Sha- 
ron, a fruitful plain or valley, of which it was fore- 
told, Sharon shall be a fold of/locks, Isa. 65. 10. 

1. They all made incjuin- into the truth of the 
miracle, did not overlook it, but saw him that was 
healed, and saw that it was a miraculous cure that 
was wrought upon him by the power of Christ, in 
l\is name, and with a design to confirm and ratify 
that doctrine of Christ which was now preached to 
the world. 

2. They all submitted to the convincing proof and 
evidence there was in this of the divine original of 
the christian doctrine, and turned to the Lord, to 
the Lord Jesus ; they turned from Judaism to Chris- 
tianity ; they embraced the doctrine of Christ, and 
submitted to his ordinances ; and turned themselves 
over to him to bV niled and taught and saved by him. 



.36. 
Vor. 



Now there was 

. VI.--N 



at Joppa a certain 



disciple named Tabitha, which by inter- 
pretation is called Dorcas : this woman was 
full of good works and alms-deeds which 
she did. 37. And it came to pass in those 
days, that she was sick, and died : whom 
when they had washed, they laid her in an 
upper chamber. 38. And forasmuch as 
Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples 
had heard that Peter was there, they sent 
unto him two men, desiring. ///>« that he 
would not delay to come to them. 39. 
Then Peter arose, and went with them. 
When he was come, they brought him into 
the upper chamber: and all the. widows 
stood by him weeping, and shewing the 
coats and garments which Dorcas made, 
while she was with them. 40. But Peter 
put them all forth, and kneeled down, and 
prayed ; and turning /?m to the body, said, 
Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes : 
and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 4L 
And he gave her his hand, and lifted her 
up, and when he had called the saints and 
widows, he presented her alive. 42. And 
it was known throughout all Joppa ; and 
many believed in the Lord. 43. And it 
came to pass, that he tarried many days in 
Joppa with one Simon a tanner. 

Here we have a greater miracle wrought by Peter, 
for the confiiTTiing of the gospel, and which ex- 
ceeded the former — the raising of Tabitha to life 
when she had been for seme time dead. Here is, 

I. The life and death and character of Tabitha, 
on whom this miracle was wrought, v. 36, 37. 

1. She lived at Joppa, a sea-port town in the tribe 
of Dan, where Jonah took shipping to go to Tar- 
shish, now called Ja/tho. 

2. Her name was Tabitha, a Hebrew name, the 
Greek for which is Dorcas, both signifying a doe, or 
hind, or deer, a pleasant creatui-e. A a'phtali is com- 
pared to a hind let loose, giving goodly words; ?nd 
the wife to the kind and tender husband, is as the 
\o\ing hind, and as the pleasant ro(°, Prov. 5. 19. 

3. She was a disciple, one tliat had embraced the 
faith of Christ and was baptized ; and not only so, 
but was eminent above many for works of charity ; 
she slicwcd her faith byher w( iks, her good works, 
which slie was full of, that is, whicli she abounded 
in ; her liead was full of cares and contrivances which 
way she could do good. She devised liberal things, 
Isa. 32. 8. Her hands were full of good employ 
ment, she made a business of doing good, was never 
idle, liaving learned to 7naintain good works, (Tit. 
3. 8.) to keep up a constant course and method of 
them. She was full of good works, as a tree that 
is full of fruit. Many are full of good words, who 
are empty and barren in gocd works ; l)ut Tabitha 
was a great doer, no great talker; Am magna 
loquimur, sed vivimus — Jle do not talk greu^ things, 
we live them. Among other good works, she was 
remai-kable for her alms-deeds which she did, not 
only her works of piety, which are good works and 
the fruits of faith, but ^^■orks of charity and benefi- 
cence, flowing from love to our neighbour and a holy, 
contempt of this world. Observe, She is praisetl 
not only for the alms which she g.oc, but for the 
alms-deeds which she did. l^hose that have not 
estates wherewith to give in charity, may yet b*" 



98 



THE ACTS, JX. 



able to do in charity, working nvith their hands, or 
walking with their feet, for the benefit of the poor. 
And they who will not do a charitable deed, what- 
ever they may pretend, if they were rich would not 
bestow a charitable gift. She was full of alms-deeds, 
a>» iTToUt — which she made ; there is an emphasis upon 
her c?om^ them, because what her hand found to do of 
this kind she did with all her might, and persevered 
in. They were alms-deeds, not which she pi-oposed 
and designed and said she would do, but which she 
did ; not which she began to do, but which she did, 
which she went through with, which she fierformed 
the doing of, 2 Cor. 8. 11.— 9. 7. This is the life 
and character of a certain disciple, and should agree 
to all the disciples of Christ ; for if thus we bear 
much fruit, then are we his disciples indeed, John 
15. 8. 
4. She was removed in the midst of her useful- 
Iv. 37.) In those days she fell sicfc, and died. 



It is promised to those who consider the poor, not 
that they shall never be sick, but that the Lord will 
strengthen them upon the bed of languishing, at 
least with strength in their soul, and so will make 
all their bed in their sickness, will make it easy, Ps. 
41. 1, 3. They cannot hope that they shall never 
die, (merciful men are taken away, and merciful 
women too, witness Tabitha,) but they may hope 
that they shall find mercy of the Lord in that day, 
2 Tim. 1. 18. 

5. Her friends and those about her did not pre- 
sently bury her, as usual, because they were in hopes 
Peter would come and raise her to life again ; but 
they washed the dead body, according to the cus- 
tom, which, they say, was with warm water, which, 
if there were any life remaining in the body, would 
recover it ; so that this was done to shew that she 
was really and truly dead ; they tried all the usual 
methods to bring her to life, and could not. Con- 
clamatum est — the last cry was uttered. They laid 
her out in her grave-clothes in an up/ier chamber ; 
which Dr. Lightfoot thinks was, probably, the pub- 
lic meeting-room for the believers of that town ; 
and they laid the body there, that Peter, if he would 
come, might raise her to life the more solemnly in 
that place. 

II. The request which her christian friends sent 
to Peter to come to them with all speed, not to at- 
tend the funeral, but, if it might be, to prevent it, 
V. 38. Lydda, where Peter now was, was nigh to 
Joppa, and the disciples at Joppa had heard that 
Peter was there, and that he had raised Eneas 
from a bed of languishing ; and therefore they sent 
to him two men, to make the message the more so- 
lemn and respectful, desiring him that he would not 
delay to come to them ; not telling him the occasion, 
lest he should modestly decline coming upon so 
great an errand as to raise the dead ; if they can but 
get him to them, they will leave it to him. Their 
friend was dead, and it was too late to send for a 
physician, but not too late to send for Peter. Post 
mortem medicus — a physician after death is an ab- 
surdity, but not Post mortem apostolus — an apostle 
after death. 

III. The posture in which he found the surviving, 
when he came to them ; {i>. 39. ) Peter arose, and 
•went with them. Though they did not tell him 
what they wanted him for, yet he was willing to go 
along with them, believing it was upon some good 
account or other that he was sent for. Let not 
faithful ministers grudge to be at every body's beck, 
as far as they have abiHty, when the great apostle 
made himself the servant of all, 1 Cor. 9. 19. He 
found the corpse laid in the upper chamber, and at- 
tended by widows ; probal)ly such as were in the 
communion of the church, poor widows ; there they 
were, 
1. Commending the deceased; a good work, 



when there was that in them which was truly com • 
mendable, and recommendable to imitation, and it 
is done modestly and soberly, and without flattery 
of the survivors or any sinister intention, but purely 
for the glory of God, and the exciting of others to 
that which is virtuous and praise-worthy. The 
commendation of Tabitha was like her own virtues, 
not in woixl, but in deed. Here were no encomiums 
of her in orations, or poems inscribed to her memo- 
ry ; but the widows shewed the coats and garments 
which she made for them, and bestowed upon them 
while she was with them. It was the comfort of Job, 
while he lived, that the loins uf the poor blessed him, 
because they were warmed with the fleece of his 
sheep. Job 31. 20. And here it was tlie credit of 
Tabitha, when she was dead, that the backs of the 
widows praised her for the garments which she 
made them. And those are certainly best praised, 
whose own works praise them in the gates, whether 
the words of others do or no. And it is much inore 
honourableto clothe a company of decrepit widows 
with needful clothing for night and day, wlio will 
pray for their benefactors when tliey'do not see • 
them, than to clothe a company of lazv footmen 
with rich liveries, who perliaps ijehind their backs 
will curse them that clothe them ; (Eccl. 7. 21.) 
and it is what all that are wise and good will take a 
greater pleasure in ; for goodness is true greatness, 
and will pass better in the account shortly. Ob- 
serve, (1.) Into what channel Tabitha turned much 
of her charity ; doubtless there were other instances 
of her alms-deeds which she did, but this was now 
produced ; she did, as it should seem, with her own 
hands, ?nake coats and garments for poor widows, 
who perhaps with their own labovn- could make a 
shift to get their bread, but could not earn enough 
to buy clothes. And this is an excellent piece of 
charity. If thou seest the naked, that (hou cover him, 
(Isa. 58. 7.) and not to think it enough to say. Be ye 
warrned, James 2. 15, 16. (2.) \Vhat a grateful 
sense the poor had of her kindness ; 7'hey shewed 
the coats, not ashamed to own that they were in- 
debted to her for the clothes on their backs. Those 
are horribly ungrateful indeed, who have kindness 
shewn them, and will not make at least an acknow- 
ledgment of it, by shewing the kindness that is done 
them, as these widows here did. Tliose who re- 
ceive alms, are not obliged so industriouslv to con- 
ceal it, as those are who give alms. When the 
poor reflect upon the rich as uncharitable and un- 
merciful, they ought to reflect upon themselves, and 
consider whether they are not unthankful and un- 
grateful. Their shewing the coats and garments 
which Dorcas made, tended to the praise not only 
of her charity, but of her industry, according to the 
character of the \-irtuous woman, that she lays her 
hands to (he spindle, or at least to the needle, and 
then stretches out her hand to the poor, and ;•( ackes 
forth her hands to the nredy, of what shi.' has work-, 
ed ; and when God and the poor have thus had 
their due she makes herself coverings of tapestry, 
and Apr own clothing is silk and purple, Piov. 31. 
19—22. 

2. They were here lamenting the loss of her ; the 
widows stood by Peter, weeping. When the 7ner- 
ciful are taken away, it should he laid to heart, cs- 
peciallv by those to" whom thc\- have been in a par- 
ticular manner merciful. They needed not to w^ecp 
for her ; she was taken from the evil to come, she 
rests from her labours, and her works follow /ler, 
beside those she leaves behind her : but they weep 
for themselves and for their children, who will soon 
find the want of such a c:ood woman, that had not left 
her fellow. Obser\c, They take notice of what good 
Dorcas did while she was with (hem ; but now she 
is gone from them, and that is the grief. Those 
that are charitable will find that the poor they have 



THE ACTS, X. 



99 



ilivays with them; but il is well if those that are 
poor find that the charitable they have always with 
them. We must make a good use of the lights that 
yet a little while are with us, because they will not 
be always with us, will not be long v/ith us : and 
when they are gone, we shall think what they did 
when they were with us. It should seem, the wi- 
dows wept before Peter, as an inducement to him, 
if he could do any thing, to have comfiassion on 
them and hel/i them, and restore one to them that 
used to have compassion on them. When charita- 
ble people are dead, there is no praying them to life 
again ; but when they are sick, that piece of grati- 
tude is owing them, to pray for their recovery, that, 
if it be the will of Ciod, those may be spared to live, 
who can ill be spared to die. 
IV. The manner how she was raised to life. 

1. Privately ; she was laid in the upper room, 
where they used to have their public meetings, and, 
it should seem, there was great crowding about the 
dead body, in expectation of what would be done ; 
but Peter put them all forth, all the weeping wi- 
dows, all but some few relations of the family, or 
perhaps the heads of the church, to join with him in 
prayer; as Christ did. Matt. 9. 25. Thus Peter de- 
clined every thing that looked like vainglory and 
ostentation ; they came to see, but he did not come 
to be seen. He put them all forth, that he might 
with the more freedom pour out his soul before God 
in prayer upon this occasion, and not be disturbed 
with their noisy and clamourous lamentations. 

2. By prayer ; in his healing Eneas there was an 
implicit prayer, but in this greater work he address- 
ed himself to God by solemn prayer, as Christ when 
he raised Lazarus : but Christ's prayer was with 
the authority of a Son, who quickens tvhom henvill; 
Peter's, with the submission of a servant, who is 
under direction, and therefore he kneeled down and 
prayed. 

3. By the word, a quickening word, a word which 
is spirit and life ; he turned to the body, which inti- 
mates that when he prayed he turnedyro?n it ; lest 
the sight of it should discourage his faith, he looked 
another way, to teach us, like Abraham, against 
hope, to believe in hope, and overlook the difficulties 
that lie in the way, not considering the body as now 
dead, lest he should stagger at the promise, Rom. 4. 
19, 20. But when he had prayed, he turned to the 
body, and spake in his Master's name, and accord- 
ing to his example, " Tabitha, arise ; retui'n to life 
again." Power went along with this word, and she 
came to life, opened her eyes which death had clos- 
ed. Thus in the raising of dead souls to spiritual 
life, the first sign of life is the opening of the eyes of 
the mind, ch. 26. 18. When she saw Peter, she sat 
up, to shew that she was really and truly alive ; and 
{v. 41.) he gave her his hand and lift her up; not 
as if she laboured under any remainmg weakness ; 
but thus he would as it were welcome her to life 
again, and give her the right hand of fellowship 
among the living, from whom she had been cut off. 
And lastly, he called the saints and widows, who 
were all in sorrow for her death, and presented her 
ative to them, to their great comfort ; particularly 
of the widows, who laid her death much to heart, 
(j>. 41.) to them he presented her, as Elijah, (1 
Kings 17. 23.) and Elisha, (2 Kings 4. 36.) and 
Christ, (Luke 7. 15j presented the dead sons alive 
to their mothers. The greatest joy and satisfaction 
are expressed by life from the dead. 

V. The good effect of this miracle. 

1. Many were by it convinced of the truth of the 
gospel, that it was from heaven, and not of men, 
and believed in the Lord, v. 42. The thing was 
known .hroughout allJoppa; it would be in every 
body's mouth quickly, and it being a town of seafar- 
ing men, the notice of it would be the sooner carried 



from thence to other countries ; and though some 
never minded it, many were wrought upon by it. 
This was the end of miracles, to confirm a divine 
revelation. 

2. Peter was hereby induced to continue some 
time in this city, v. 43. Finding that a door of op- 
portunity was opened for him there, he tarried 
there many days, till he was sent thence, and sent 
for from thence upon business to another place. He 
tarried not in the house of Tabitha, though she was 
rich, lest he should seem to seek his own glory ; but 
he took up his lodgings with one Simon a tanner, an 
ordinary tradesman, which is an instance of his con- 
descension and humility : and liereby he has taught 
us not to mind high things, but to condescend to 
them of low estate, Rom. 12. 16. And though Peter 
might seem to be buried in obscurity here in the 
house of a poor tanner by the sea-side, yet hence 
God fetched him to a noble piece of service in the 
next chapter; for those that humble themselves 
shall be exalted. 

CHAP. X. 

It is a turn very new and remarkable, which the story of this 
chapter gives to the Acts of the apostles ; hitlierto, both at 
Jerusalem and every where else where the ministers of 
Christ came, they preached the gospel only to the Jews, or 
those Greeks that were circumcised and proselyted to the 
Jews' religion ; but now, Lo, we turn to tlie Gentiles ; and 
to them the door of faith is here opened : good news indeed 
to us sinners of the Gentiles. The apostle Peter is the 
man that is first employed to admit uneircumcised Gen- 
tiles into the christian church ; and Cornelius, a Roman 
centurion or colonel, is the first that with his family and 
friends is so admitted. Now here we are told, I. How 
Cornelius was directed by a vision to send for Peter, and 
did send for him accordingly, v. 1..8. II. How Peter 
%vas directed by a vision to go to Cornelius, though he was 
a Gentile, without making any scruple of it ; and did go 
accordingly, v. 9.. 23. III. The happy interview between 
Peter and Cornelius at Cesarea, v. 24. . 33. IV. The ser- 
mon Peter preaciied in the house of Cornelius to him and 
to his friends, v. 34.. 43. V. The baptizing of Cornelius 
and his friends with the Holy Ghost first, and then with 
water, v. 44 . . 48. 

l.^THHERE was a certain man in Ce- 
JL sarea, called Cornelius, a centurion 
of the band called the Italian hand., 2. A 
devout man., and one that feared God with 
all his house, which gave much alms to the 
people, and prayed to God alway. 3. He 
saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth 
hour of the day, an angel of God coming 
in to him, and saying imto him, Cornelius. 
4. 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 come up for a memorial before 
God. 5. And now send men to Joppa, 
and call for one Simon, whose surname is 
Peter: 6. Pie lodgeth with one Simon a 
tanner, whose house is by the sea-side : he 
shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. 
7. And when the angel which spake unto 
Cornelius was departed, he called two of 
his household servants, and a devout sol- 
dier of them that waited on him continu- 
ally ; 8. And when he had declared all 
these things unto them, he sent them to 
Joppa. 

The bringing of the gospel to the Gentiles, and 
the bringing of them who had been strangers and 



100 



THE ACTS, X. 



foreigners to be fellow-citizens with the saints, and 
of the household of God, were such a niyster\- to the 
apostles themselves, and such a sui-prise, (Eph. 3. 
3, 6. ) that it concerns us carefully to observe all the 
circumstances of the beginning of this great work, 
this part of the mystery of Godliness — Christ preach- 
ed to the Gentiles, and believed on in the ivorld, 1 
Tim. 3. 16. It is not unlikely that some Gentiles 
might before now have stepped into a synagogue of 
the Jews, and heard the gospel preached ; but the 
.gospel was never yet designedly preached to the 
Gentiles, nor any of them baptized, Cornelius was 
the first. And here we have, 

I. An account given us of this Cornelius, who and 
what he was, that was the first-born of the Gentiles 
to Christ. We are here told that he was a great 
man and a good man ; two characters that seldom 
meet, but hei-e they did : and where they do meet, 
they put a lustre upon each other ; goodness makes 
greatness truly valuable, and greatness makes good- 
ness much more serviceable. 

1. Cornelius was an officer of the amtiy, v. 1. He 
was at present quartered in Cesarea, a strong city, 
lately re-edified and fortified by Herod the Great, 
and called Cesarea in honour of Augustus Cxsar. 
It lay upon the sea-shore, very convenient for the 
keeping up of a correspondence between Rome and 
its conquests in those parts. The Roman goveraor 
or proconsul ordinarily resided here, ch. 23. 23, 24. 
— 25. 6. Here was a band, or cohort, or regiment, 
of the Roman army, which probably was the go- 
vernor's life-guard, and is here called the Itahajt 
band ; because, that they might be the more sure 
of their fidelity, they were all native Romans, or 
Italians ; Cornelius had a command in this part of 
the army. His name, Cornelius, was much used 
among the Romans, among some of the most ancient 
and noble families. He was an officer of considera- 
ble rank and figure, a centurion. We read of one 
in our Saviour's time of that rank, whom he gave a 
gi-eat commendation of. Matt. 8. 10. When a Gen- 
tile must be pitched upon to receive the gospel first, 
it is not a Gentile philosopher, much less a Gentile 
priest, (who are bigoted to their notions and worship, 
and prejudiced against the gospel of Christ,) but a 
Gentile soldier, who is a man of more free thought; 
and he that truly is so, when the christian doctrine 
is fairly set before him, cannot but receive it, and 
bid it welcome. Fishermen, unlearned and igno- 
rant men, were the first of the Jewish converts, but 
not so of the Gentiles ; for the world shall know that 
the gospel has that in it which may recommend it 
to men of polite learning and a liberal education, as 
we have reason to think this centurion was. Let 
not soldiers and officers of the arniy plead that their 
employment frees them from the' restraints which 
some others are under, and giving them an oppor- 
tunity of living more at large, may excuse them if 
they be not religious ; for here was an officer of the 
army that embraced Christianity, and yet was neither 
turned put of his place, nor turned himself out. And 
lastly, it was a mortification to the Jews, that not 
only the Gentiles were taken into the church, but 
that the first who was taken in, was an officer of the 
Roman army, which was to them the abomination 
of desolation. 

2. He was, according to the measure of the light 
he had, a religious man ; it is a very good charac- 
ter that is given of him, v. 2. He was no idolater, 
no worshipper of false gods or images, nor allowed 
himself in anv of those immoralities which the 
greater part of the Gentile world were given up to, 
to punish them for their idolatry. (1.) He was pos- 
sessed with a i)rinci])le of regard to the tnie and liv- 
ing God ; he wns a deroiit man, and one that feared 
God ; he believed in one God, the Creator of hea- 
ven and earth, and had a reverence for h s gloiy and 



authority, and a dread of offending him by sin ; and 
though he was a soldier, it was no diminution to the 
credit of his valour to tremble before God. (2. ) He 
kept up religion in his family ; he feared God vAth 
all his house. He would not admit any idolaters un- 
der his roof ; but took care that not himself only, 
but all his, should serve the Lord. Every good man 
will do what he can that those about him may be 
good too. (3.) He was a very charitable man ; he 
gave much alms to the peofile, the people of the 
Jews, notwithstanding the singularities of their reli- 
gion. Though he was a Gentile, he was willing to 
contribute to the relief of one that was a real ob- 
ject of charity, without asking what religion he was 
of. (4.) He was much in prayer ; he prayed to Goct 
always. He kept up stated times for prayer, and 
was constant to them. Note, \Vherever the fear 
of God rules in the heart, it will appear both in 
works of charity and of piety, and neither will ex 
cuse us from the otlier. 

II. The orders given him from heaven by the min- 
istry of an angel, to send for Peter to come to him ; 
which he would never have done, if he had not been 
thus directed to do it. Observe, 

1. How, and in what way, these orders were given 
him ; he had a vision, in which an angel delivered 
them to him. It was about the ninth hour of the 
day, at three of the clock in the afternoon, which is 
with us an hour of business and conversation ; but 
then, because it was in the temple the time of the 
offering of the evening sacrifice, it was made by de- 
vout people an hour of prayer, to intimate that all 
our prayers are to be offered up in the virtue of the 
great Sacrifice. Cornelius was now at prayer ; ^.> 
he tells us himself, v. 30. Now Jiere we are told, 
(1.) That an angel of God came in to him. By the 
brightness of his countenance, and the manner of 
his coming in, he knew him to be something more 
than man, and therefore nothing less than an angel, 
an express from heaven. (2.) That he saw him 
eTjide7itly with his bodily eyes, not in a dream ]}re- 
sented to his imagination, but in a vision, presented 
to his sight ; for his greater satisfaction, it carried 
its own evidence along with it. (3.) That he called 
him by his name, Corrielius, to intimate the particu- 
lar notice God took of him. (4.) That this put Cor- 
nelius for the present into some confusion ; {i.k 4.) 
When he looked on him, he ivas afraid ; the wisest 
and best men have been struck with fear upon the 
ajjpearance of any extraordinary messenger from 
heaven ; and justly, for sinful man knows he has no 
reason to expect any good tidings from thence. And 
therefore Cornelius crie=, " What is it, Lord? What 
is the matter ?" This he speaks as one afraid of 
something amiss, and longing to be eased of that 
fear, bv knowing the truth ; or, as one desirous to 
know the mind of God, and rc'ady to comply with 
it, as Joshua ; What saith 7)iy Lord in/to his ser- 
vant ? And Samuel, Speak, for thy servant heareth. 

2. What the message was, that was delivered 
him. 

(1.) He is assured tliat God accepts of him in 
walking according to the light he had ; {\k 4.) Thy 
prayers and thine alms are come up for a rnemorial 
before God. Oliserve, Prayers and alms must go 
together. A\'e must follow our prayers with alms ; 
for the fast that God hath chosen, is to draw out the 
soul to the hungry, Isa. 58. 6,7. It is not enough 
to prav that what we have may be sanctified to us, 
but we must give alms of such things as we have ; 
and then, behold, all things are clean to us, Luke 11. 
41. And we must follow our alms with our jjrayei-s 
that (iod would graciously accept them, and that 
they may be blessed to those to whom they are 
given. Cornelius prayed, and gave alms, not as the 
Pharisees, to be seen rfwen, but in sincerity, as unto 
God; and he is here told, that they were come up 



THE ACTS, X. 



for a memona. before God ; they were upon record 
m beaven, in the book of remembrance that is writ- 
ten there for all that fear God, and shall be remem- 
bered to his advantage ; " Thy prayers shall be an- 
swered, and thine alms recompensed." The sacri- 
fices under the law are said to be for a memorial. 
See Lev. 2. 9, 16. — 5. 12. — 6. 15. And prayers and 
alms are our spiritual offerings, which God is pleased 
to take cognizance of, and have regard to. The di- 
vine revelation communicated to the Jews, as far as 
the Gentiles were concerned in it, not only as it di- 
rected and improved the light and law of nature, 
but as it promised a Messiah to come, Cornelius be- 
lieved and submitted to ; what he did he did in that 
faith, and was accepted of God in it ; for the Gen- 
tiles, to whom the law of Moses came, were not 
obliged to become circumcised Jews, as those to 
whom the gospel of Christ comes, are to become 
baptized Christians. 

(2.) He is appointed to inquire after a further dis- 
covery of divine grace, now lately made to, the 
world, V. 5, 6. He must send forthwith to Joftfm, 
■ and incpiire for one Simon Peter ; he lodgeth at the 
house of one Simon a tanner; his house is by the sea- 
side, and if he be sent for, he will come ; and whe7i 
he comes, he shall tell thee ivhat thou ou^htest to do, 
in answer to thy question, JVhat is it. Lord ? Now 
here arc two things \ery surprising, and worthy our 
consideration. 

[1. ] Cornelius prays and gives alms in the fear of 
God ; is religious himself, and keeps up religion in 
his family, and all this so as to be accepted of God 
in it ; and yet there is something further, that he 
ou^ht to do ; he ought to embrace the christian re- 
ligion, now that God has established it among men. 
Not, He may do it if he pleases, it will be an im- 
provement and entertainment to him ; but. He must 
do it, it is indispensably necessary to his acceptance 
with God for the future, though he has been ac- 
cepted in his services hitherto. He that believed 
the promise of the Messiah, must now believe the 
performance of that promise. Now that God had 
given a further record concerning his Son than what 
had been given in the Old Testament prophecies, 
he requires that we receive that when it is brought 
to us. And now neither our firayers nor our alms 
come u/i for a memorial before God unless we be- 
lieve in Jesus Christ ; for it is \.\\-aX further which we 
ought to do. This is his commandment, that ive be-'i 
Here; prayers and alms are accepted from those 
that believe that the Lord is God, and have not op- 
portunity of knowing more. But from those to whom 
It is preached, that Jesus is Christ, it is necessary to 
the acceptance of their persons, prayers, and alms, 
that they l)olieve that, and rest upon him alone for 
acceptance. 

[2.] Cornelius has now an angel from heaven 
talking to him, and yet he must not receive the gos- 
pel of Christ from this angel, nor be told by him 
what he ought to do, but all that the angel has to 
say, is, "Send for Peter, and he shall tell thee." As 
the former observation puts a mighty honour upon 
the gospel, so does this upon the gospel-ministry : it 
was not to the highest of angels, but to them who 
were less than the least of all saints, that this grace 
was given, to fxreach among the Gentiles the ztn- 
secrcliahle riches of Christ, (Rph. 3. 8.) that the ex- 
cellency of the power might be of God, and the dig- 
nity of an institution of Christ supported ; for unto 
the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to 
come, (Heb. 2. 5.) but to the Son of man as the So- 
vereign, and the sons of men as his agents and minis- 
ters of state, whose terror shall not make us afraid, 
vor their hand be heavy upon us, as this angel's now 
was to Cornelius. And as it was an honour to the 
apostle, that he must preach that which an angel 
might not, so it was a hirther honour, that an angel 



was dispatched on purpose from heaven to order 
him to be sent for. To bring a faithful minister and 
a willing people together, is a work worthy of an 
angel, and what therefore the greatest of men should 
be glad to be employed in. 

in. His immediate obedience to these orders, x-. 
7, 8. He sent with all speed to Joppa, to fetch Pe 
ter to him. Had he himself only been concerned, 
he would have gone to Joppa to him. But he had a 
family, and kinsmen, and friends, (r. 24.) a little 
congregation of them, that could not go with him to 
Joppa, and therefore he sends for Petei-. Observe, 

1. When he sent ; as soon aseverthcc77_g-t7TO/(/cA 
spake unto him, ivas departed, \^'ilhcut dispute or 
delay he was obedient to the heavenly vision. He 
perceived, by what the angel said, he was to have 
some further work prescribed him, and he longed 
to have it told him. He made has,te, and delayed 
not, to do this commandment. In anv affair where- 
in our souls are concerned, it is gocd fcr us net to 
lose time. 

2. Whom he sent ; tivo of his household scrcants, 
who all feared God, and a devout sold er, cne c,f them 
that Tjaited on him continually. Observe, A devout 
centurion had devout soldiers'; a little devotion com- 
monly goes a great way with soldiers, but there 
would be more of it in the soldiers, if there were but 
more of it in the commanders. Officers in an army, 
that have such a great power over the soldiers, as 
we find the centurion had, (Matt. 8. 9.) have a great 
ojDportunity of promoting religion, at least of re- 
straining vice and prcfaneness, in those under their 
command, if they would but improve it. Observe, 
When this centurion was to choose some of his sol- 
diers to attend his person, and to be always about 
him, he pitched upon such of them as were devout ; 
they shall be preferred and countenanced, to encou- 
rage others to be so ; he went by David's rule, (Ps. 
101. 6.) Afine eye shall be upon the faithful in the 
land, that they may divell nvith me. 

3. What instructions he gave them ; (r. 8.) he de- 
clared all these things unto- them, told them of the 
vision he had, and the orders given him to send for 
Peter, because Peter's coming was a thing in which 
they were concerned, for they had siuls to save as 
well as he. Therefore he does not only tt:ll them 
where to find Peter, (which he might have thought 
it enough to do, the sci-i'ant knovjs not vjhat his Lord 
doeth,) but he tells them on what errand he was to 
come, that they might importune him. 

9. On the morrow, as they went on their 
journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter 
went up upon the house-top to pray about 
the sixth hour : 10. And he became very 
hungry, and would have eaten : but while 
they made ready, he fell into a trance, 1 1. 
And saw heaven opened, and a certain ves- 
sel descending unto him, as it had been a 
great sheet knit at the four corners, and let 
down to the earth : 12. Wherein were all 
manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, 
and wild beasts, and creeping things, and 
fowls of the air. 13. And there came a 
voice to him. Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 
14. But Peter said. Not so, Lord; for I 
have never eaten any thing that is com- 
mon or unclean. 15. And the voice spake 
unto him again the second time, What 
God hath cleansed, that call not thou com- 
mon. 16. This was done thrice: and the 



102 



THE ACTS, X.. 



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 inquiry for Si- 
mon's house, and stood before the gate, 

18. And called, and asked whether Simon, 
which was surnamed Peter, were lodged 
there. 

Cornelius had received positive orders from hea- 
ven to send for Peter, whom otherwise he had not 
heard of, or at least not heeded ; but here is another 
difficulty that lies in the way of bringing them to- 
gether — the question is, whether Peter will come to 
Cornelius when he is sent for ; not as if he thinks it 
below him to come at a beck, or as if he is afraid to 
preach his doctrine to a polite man as Cornelius was: 
but it sticks at a point of conscience. Cornelius is a 
very worthy man, and has many good qualities, but 
he is a Gentile, he is not circumcised ; and because 
God in his law had forbidden his people to associate 
with idolatrous nations, they would not keep com- 
pany with any but those of their own religion, though 
they were ever so deserving ; and they carried the 
matter so far, that they made even the involuntary 
touch of a Gentile to contract a ceremonial pollu- 
tion, John 18. 28. Peter had not got over this stin- 
gy bigoted notion of his countrymen, and therefore 
will be shy of coming to Cornelius. Now, to re- 
move this difficulty he has a vision here, to prepare 
him to receive the message sent him by Cornelius, 
as Ananias had to prepare him to go to "Paul. The 
scriptures of the Old Testament had spoken plainly 
of the bringing in of the Gentiles into the church ; 
Christ had given plain intimations of it, when he or- 
dered them to teach all muions ; and yet even Peter 
himself, who knew so much of his Master's mind, 
cannot understand it, till it was here revealed by 
vision, that the Gentiles should he fellow heirs, Eph. 3. 
6. Now here observe, 

I. The circumstances of this vision. 

1. It was when the messengers sent from Corne- 
lius were now nigh the city, v. 9. Peter knevv nothing 
of their approach, and they knew nothing of his 
praying ; but he that knew both him and them, was 
pref)aring things for the interview, and facilitating 
the end of their negociation. To all God's purposes 
there is a time, a proper time ; and he is pleased 
often to bring things to the minds of his ministers, 
which they had not thought of, just then when they 
have occasion to use them. 

2. It was when Peter went up. ufion the houae-tofi 
to pray, about noon. ( 1. ) Peter was much in prayer, 
much in secret prayer, though he had a great deal 
of public work upon his hands. (2.) He prayed 
about the sixth hour, according to David's example, 
who, not only morning and evening, but ot noon, 
addressed himself to God bv prayer, Ps. 55. 17. 
From morning to night we 'should think to be too 
long to be without meat ; yet who thinks it is too 
long to be without prayer ? (3.) He prayed upon the 
house-top ; thither he retired for privacy, where he 
could neither hear nor be heard, and so might avoid 
both distraction and ostentation. There, upon the 
roof of the house, he had a full view of the heavens, 
which might assist his pious adoration of the God he 
prayed to ; and there he had also a full view of the 
city and country, which might assist his pious com- 
passion of the people he prayed for. (4.) He had 
this vision immediately after he had prayed, as an 
answer to his prayer for the spreading of the gos- 
pel ; and liecause the ascent of the heart to God in 
prayer is an excellent preparative to receive the dis- 
roveries of the divine grace and favour. 



3. It was when he became very hungry, and was 
waiting for his dinner; {y. 10.) probably, he had 
not eaten before that day, though doubtless he had 
prayed before ; and now he would have eaten, »(ii\i 
yiva-diabAi — he would have tasted, which intimates 
his great moderation and temperance in eating ; 
when he was very hungry, yet he would be content 
with a little, with a taste, and would not Jiy upon 
the spoil. Now this hunger was a proper inlet to 
the vision about meats, as Christ's hunger in the 
wilderness was to Satan's temptation to turn stones 
into bread. 

II. The vision itself, which was not so plain as that 
to Cornelius, but more figurative and enigmatical, 
to make the deeper impression. 

1. He fell into a trance or ecstasy, not of terror, 
but of contemplation, with which he was so entirely 
swallowed up as not only not to be i-egardful, but not 
to be sensible,, of external thingn ; he quite lost him- 
self to this world, and so had his mind entirely free 
for converse with divine things ; as Adam in inno- 
cency, when the deep sleep fell upon him. The 
more clear we get of the world, the more near we 
get to heaven : whether Peter was now in the body 
or out of the body, he could not himself tell, much 
less can we, 2 Cor. 12. 2, 3. See Gen. 15. 12. Acts 
22. 17. 

2. He saw heaven opened ; that he might be sure 
that his authority to go to Co7'nelius was indeed from 
heaven ; that it was a divine light which altered his 
sentiments, and a divine power which gave him his 
commission. The opening of the heavens signified 
the opening of a mystery that had been hid, Rom. 
16. 25. 

3. He saw a great sheet full of. all manner of liv- 
ing creatures, which descended from heaven, and 
was let down to him, to the earth, that is, to the roof 
of the house where he now was. Here were not 
only beasts of the earth, but fowls ot the air, which 
might have flown away, laid at his feet ; and not only 
tame beasts, but wild. Here were no fishes of the 
sea, because there were none of them in particular 
unclean, but whatever had fins and scales were al- 
lowed to be eaten. Some make this sheet, thus 
filled, to represent the church of Christ. It comes 
down from heaven, from heaven opened, not only to 
send it down, (Rev. 21. 2.) but to receive souls sent 
up from it ; it is knit at the four corners, to receive 
those from all parts of the world, that are willing to 
be added to it ; and to retain and keep those safe, 
that are taken into it, that they may not fall rut ; 
and in this we find some of all countries, nations, 
and languages, without any distinction of Greek or 
Jew, or any disadvantage put upon Barbarian or 
Scythian, Col. 3. 11. The net of the gospel incloses 
all, both bad and good ; tht.se that before were 
clean, and unclean. Or, it may be applied to the 
bounty of the Divine Providence, which, antece- 
dently to the prohibitions of the ceremonial law, 
had given to man a liberty to use all the crcatui'es, 
to which bv the cancelling of that law we are now 
restored. By this vision we are taught to see all the 
benefit and service we have from the inferior crca 
tures coming down to us from heaven ; it is the gift 
of God who made them, made tliem fit for us, and 
then gave to man a right to them, and dominion over 
them. I.,ord, what is man that he should he tiuis 
magnified ! Ps. 8. 4 — 8. How should it double our 
comfort in the creatures, and our obligations to serve 
God in the use of them, to see them thus let down 
to us out of heaven ! 

4. Peter was ordered by a voice from heaven to 
make use of this ])lcjitv and variety wliich God 
had sent him ; (t-. 13.) "Rise, Peter, kill, and eat ; 
without putting any difference between clean and 
unclean, take which thou hast most mind to." The 
distinction of meats which the law made, was in 



THE ACTS, X. 



103 



tended to put a difference between Jew and Gentile, 
that it might be difficult to them to dine and sup 
■with a Gentile, because they would have that set 
before them, which they were not allowed to eat ; 
and now the taking off of that prohibition was a 
plain allowance to converse with the Gentiles, and 
to be free and familiar with them ; now th^y might 
fare as they fared, and therefore might eat ivith 
them, and be fellow-commoners with them. 

5. Peter stuck to his principles, and would by no 
means hearken to the motion, though he was hun- 
^•y ; {v. lA.) .N'ot so, Lord. Though hunger will 
break through stone-walls, God's laws should be to 
us a stronger fence than stone- walls, and not so easily 
l.roken through. And he will adhere to God's laws, 
though he had a countermand by a voice from hea- 
A en, not knowing at first but that Kill, and eat, was 
a command of trial whether he would adhere to 
.tne more sure word, the written law ; and if so his 
answer had been very good, A'bi so. Lord. Temp- 
tations to eat forbidden fniit must not be parleyed 
with, but peremptorily rejected; we must startle at 
the thought of it, JVot so, Lord. The reason he 
gives, is, "For L have 7iever eaten anij thing that 
is common or unclean ; hitherto I have kept my in- 
tegrity in tais matter, and will still keep it." If God, 
by his grace, has preserved us from gross sin unto 
this day, we should use that as an argument with 
ourselves to abstain from all apfiearance of evil. 
So strict were the pious Jews in this matter, that 
the seven brethren, those glorious martyrs under 
Antiochus, chose rather to be tortured to death in 
the most cruel manner that ever was, than to eat 
swine's flesh, because it was forbidden by the law. 
No wonder then that Peter says it with so much 
pleasure, that his conscience could witness for him, 
that he had never gratified his appetite with any 
forbidden food. 

6. God, by a second voice from heaven, pro- 
claimed the repeal of the law in this case ; {y. 16.) 
IVhat God hath cleansed, that call riot thou com- 
7non. He that made the law, might alter it when 
he pleased, and reduce the matter to its first state. 
God had, for reasons suited to the Old Testament 
dispensation, restrained the Jews from eating such 
and such meats, which, while that dispensation 
lasted, they were obliged in conscience to submit 
to ; but he has now, for reasons suited to the New 
Testament dispensation, taken off that restraint, I 
and set the matter at large, has cleansed that which | 
■was before polluted to us, and we ought to make use 
of, and stand fast in, the liberty wherewith Christ 
has made us free, and Jiot call that cominon or un- 
clean, which God has now declared clean. Note, 
We ought to welcome it as a great mercy, that by 
the gospel of Christ we are freed from the distinc- 
tion of meats, which was made by the law of Moses, 
and that now every creature of God is good, and 
nothing to be refused ; not so much because hereby 
■we gain the use of swine's flesh, haves, rabbits, and 
other pleasant and wholesome food for our bodies, 
but chiefly because conscience is hereby freed from 
a yoke in things of this nature, that we might sei~ve 
God v.iithout fear. Though the gospel has made 
duties which were not so by the law of nature, yet 
it has not, like the law of Moses, made sins that 
were not so. Those who command to abstain from 
some kinds of meat, at some times of the year, and 
place religion in it, call that common which God 
hath cleansed, and, in that error, more than in any 
trutli, are the successors of Peter. 

7. This was done thrice, v. 16. The sheet was 
drawn up a little way, and let down again the se- 
cond time, and so the third time, with the same call 
to hiin, to f:ill, and eat, and the same reason, that 
what God hath cleansed, we must not call common ; 
but, -whether Peter's refusal was repeated the se- 



cond and third time, is not certain ; surely it was 
not, when his oljjection had the first time received 
such a satisfactory answer. The dou):)ling of Pha 
raoh's dream, and so the trebling of Peter's vision, 
were to shew that the thing was certain, and engage 
him to take so much the more notice of it. The in- 
structions given us in the things of God, whether by 
the ear in the preaching of the word, or by the eye 
in sacraments, need to be often repeated ; jirecept 
must be ufion fireccpt, and line upon line. But at 
last the vessel was received u/i into heaven. Those 
who make this vessel to represent the church, in- 
cluding both Jews and Gentiles, as tliis did both 
clean and unclean creatures, make this very aptly 
to signify the admission of the believing Gentiles 
into the church, and into heaven too, into the Jei^u- 
salem above. Christ has ojiened the kingdom of 
heaven to all believers, and there we shall find, be- 
side those that are sealed out of all (he tribes of Is- 
rael, an innumerable company out of every nation ; 
(Rev. 7. 9.) but the)' are such as God has cleansed. 

III. The providence which very opportunely ex- 
plained this vision, and gave Peter to understand the 
intention of it, v. 17, 18. 

1. What Christ Ci\A, Peter knew not just then; 
(John 13. 7.) he doubted within himself what this vi- 
sion which lie had seen should ineun ; he had no rea- 
son to doubt the truth of it, that it was a heavenly 
vision, all his doubt was conceniing the meaning of 
it. Note, Christ reveals himself to his people by 
degrees, and not all at once ; and leaves them to 
doubt a while, to ruminate upon a thing, and debate 
it to and fro in their own minds, before he clears it 
up to them. 

2. Yet he was made to know jn-esently, for the 
men which were sent from Cornelius were just now 
come to the house, and were at the gate inquiring 
whether Peter lodged there ; and by their errand it 
will appear what was the meaning of this vision. 
Note, Ciod knows what services are before us, and 
therefore how to prejjare us ; and we then better 
know the meaning of what he has taught us, when 
we find what occasion we have to make use of it. 

19. While Peter thought on the vision, 
the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men 
seek thee. 20. Arise therefore, and get 
thee down, and go with them, douljting 
nothing: for T have sent them. 21. Then 
Peter went down to the men which were 
sent unto iiim from Cornelius; and said. 
Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is 
the cause wherefore ye are come? 22. 
And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a 
just man, and one that feareth God, and 
of good report among all the nation of the 
Jews, was warned from God by an holy 
angel to send foi' thee into his house, and 
to hear words of thee. 23. Then called 
he them in, and lodged them. And on the 
morrow Peter went away with them, and 
certain brethren from Joppa accompanied 
him. 24. And the morrow after ihey en- 
tered into Cesarea : and Cornelius waited 
for them, and had called together his kins- 
men and near friends. 25. And as Peter 
was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell 
down at his feet, and worshipped /?/;«. 26. 
But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up ; 
I myself also am a man. 27. And as he 



I\>4 



THE ACTS, X. 



talked with him, he went in, and found 
many that were come together. 28. And 
he said unto them, Ye know how that it is 
an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew 
to keep company, or come unto one of 
another nation ; but God hath shewed me 
that I should not call any man common or 
unclean. 29. Therefore came I unto you 
without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent 
for : I ask therefore for what intent ye have 
sent for me ? 30. And Cornelius said, Four 
days ago I was fasting until this hour ; and 
at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, 
and, behold, a man stood before me in 
bright clothing, 3 1 . And said, Cornelius, 
thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had 
in remembrance in the sight of God. 32. 
Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither 
Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is 
lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner 
by the sea-side : who, when he cometh, 
shall speak unto thee. 33. Immediately 
therefore I sent to thee ; and thou hast 
well done that thou art come. Now there- 
fore are we all here present before God, 
to hear all things that are commanded 
thee of God. 

We have here the meeting between Peter the 
afiostle, and Cornehus the centurion. Though Paul 
was designed to be the afiostle of the Gentiles, and 
to gather in the harvest among them, and Peter to 
be the afiostle of the circumcision, yet it is ordered 
.that Peter shall break the ice, and reap the first- 
fruits of the Gentiles, that the believing Jews, who 
retained too much of the old leaven of ill-will to the 
Gentiles, might be the better reconciled to their ad- 
mission into the church, when they were first brought 
in by their own apostle, which Peter urgeth against 
those that would have imposed circumcision upon 
the Gentile converts, ch. 15. 7. Ye know that God 
made choice amo7ig us, that the Gentiles by my 
mouth should hear the word of the gosfieL Now 
here, 

I. Peter is directed by the Spirit to go along with 
Cornelius's messengers, {v. 19, 20.) and this is the 
exposition of the vision ; now the riddle is unriddled. 
TVhile Peter thought on the vision ; he was musing 
upon it, and then it was opened to him. Note, Those 
that would be taught the things of God, must think 
on those things ; those that would understand the 
scriptures, must meditate in them day and night. 
He was at a loss about it, and then had it ex- 
plained ; which encourages us, when we know not 
what to do, to have our eyes up unto God for direc- 
tion. Observe, 

1. Wlience he had the direction. The Spirit 
said to liim what he should do. It was not spoken 
to him by an angel, liut spoken in him by the Spirit, 
secretly wliispering it in his ear as it were, as God 
spake to Samuel, (1 Sam. 9. 15.) or impressing it 
powerfully upon his mind, so that he knew it to be 
a divine afflatus or inspiration, according to the pro- 
mise, John 16. 1.". 

2. Wliat the direction was. (1.) He is told, be- 
fore anv of the servants could come up to tell him, 
that three lyien below wanted to speak with him, (t. 
19.) and he must arise from his musings, leave off 
thinking of the vision, and go down to them, v. 20. 
Those that are searching into the meaning of the 



words of God, and the visions of the Almighty, snouUl 
not be always poring, no, nor always prating, but 
should sometimes look abroad, look about them, and 
they may meet with that which will be of use to them 
in their niquiries ; for the scripture is in the fulfilling 
every day. 

(2.) He is ordered to^o along with the messengers 
to Cornelius, though he was a Gentile, doubting 
nothing. He must not only go, but go cheerfully, 
without reluctancy or hesitation, or any scruple con- 
cerning the lawfulness of it ; not doubting whether 
he might go, no, nor whether he ought to go ; for it 
was his duty ; " Go with them, for I have sent them ; 
and I will bear thee out in going along with them, 
however thou mayest be censured for it." Note, 
When we see our call clear to any service, we should 
not suffer ourselves to be peiplexed with doubts and 
scruples concerning it, arising from former preju- 
dices or prepossessions, or a fear of men's censure. 
Let every man be fully fiersuaded in his own mind, 
and firove his own work. 

n. He receives both them and their message ; he 
went dow7i to them, v. 21. So far was he from go- 
ing out of the way, or refusing to be spoken with, as 
one that was shy of them, or making them tarry, as 
one that took state upon him, that he went to them 
himself, told them he was the person they were in- 
quiring for ! And, 

1. He favoural)ly receives their message ; with 
abundance of openness and condescension he asks, 
what their business is, what they have to say to him, 
M^hat is the cause wherefore ye are come? and they 
tell him their errand ; {v. 22.) " Cornelius, an offi- 
cer of the Roman army, a very honest gentleman, 
and one who has more religion than most of his 
neighbours, who fears God above many, (Nch. 7. 
2.) who, though he is not a Jew himself, has carried 
it so well, that he is of good rcfiort among all the 
fteofile of the Jews, they will all give him a good 
word, for a conscientious, soljcr, charitable man, so 
that it will be no discredit to thee to be seen in his 
company ; he vjas warned from God," s;^g«//a7/V9-;) — 
" he hacl an oracle from God, sent him by an angel," 
(and the lively oracles of the lanv of Moses were given 
by the disfiosition of angels,) "by which he was or- 
dered to send for tliee to his house, (where he is ex- 
pecting thee, and ready to bid thee welcome,) and 
to hear words of thee : they know not what words, 
but they are such as he may hear from thee, and not 
from any one else so well. " Faith comes by hear ing. 
When Peter repeats this, he tells us more fully, 
they are words whereby thou and all thy house shall 
be saved, ch. 11. 14. "Come to him, for an angel 
bid him send for thee : come to him, for he is ready 
to hear and receive tlie saving words thou hast to 
bring him." 

2. He kindly entertained the messengers ; {v. 23.) 
He called them in, and lodged them. He did not bid 
them go and refresh, and repose tliemselves in an 
inn at their own charge, but was himself at the 
charge of entertaining them in his own quarters. 
What was getting ready for him, {v. 10.) they 
should be welcome to share in ; he little tluiught 
what company he should have when he bespoke his 
dinner, but God foresaw it. Note, It becomes chris- 
tians and ministers to be hospitalile, and ready, ac- 
cording as their ability is, and there is occasion for 
it, to entertain strangers. Peter lodged them, though 
they were (ientiles, to shew how readily he com- 
plied with the design of the vision in eating with 
Gentiles ; for he immediately took tliem to eat with 
him. Though tliey were two of them scr\-aiits, and 
the other a common soldier, yet Peter thought it not 
below him to take them into his house. Probably, 
he did it, that he might have some talk with them 
about Cornelius and his family ; for the apostles, 
though they had instructions from the Spirit, yet 



THE ACTS, X. 



105 



made use of other informations, as they had occasion 
for them. 

III. He went "with them to Cornelius, whom he 
found ready to receive and entertain him. 

1. Peter, when he went with them, was accom- 
fianied by certain brethren from Jofipa, where he 
now was, f. 23. Six of them ivent along with him, 
as we find, ch. 11. 12. Either Peter desired their 
company, that they might be witnesses of his pro- 
ceeding cautiously with reference to the Gentiles, 
and of the good ground on which he toent, and there- 
fore he vouches them ; {ch. 11. 12.) or they offered 
their service to attend him, and desired they might 
have the honour and happiness of being his fellow- 
travellers. This was one way in which the primi- 
tive christians very much shewed their respect to 
their ministers, they accompanied them in their 
journeys, to keep them in countenance, to be their 
guard, and, as there was occasion, to minister to 
them ; with a further prospect not only of doing them 
service, but of being edified by their converse. It is 
pity that those who have skill and will to do good to 
others by their discourse, should want an opportunity 
for it by travelling alone. 

2. Cornelius, when he was ready to receive him, 
had got some friends together of Cesarea. It seems, 
it was above a day's journey, near two, from Joppa 
to Cesarea ; for it was the day after they set out 
that they entered into Cesarea, -{v. 24.) and the af- 
ternoon of that day, -v. 30. It is probable that they 
travelled on foot ; the apostles generally did so. 
IJow when they came into the house of Cornelius, 
I'eter found, (1.) That he was expected, and that 
was an encouragement to him. Cornelius waited 
for them, and such a guest was worth waiting for ; 
nor can I blame him if he waited with some impa- 
tience, longing to know what that mighty thing was, 
which an angel bid him expect to hear from Peter. 
(2. ) That he was expected by many, and that was 
a further encouragement to him. As Peter brought 
some with him to partake of the spiritual gift he 
had now to dispense, so Cornelius had called toge- 
ther, not only his own family, but his kinsmen, and 
near friends, to partake with him of the heavenly 
instructions he expected from Peter, which would 
give Peter a larger opportunity of doing good. Note, 
We should not covet to eat our spiritual morsels 
alone. Job 31. 17. It ought to be both given and 
taken as a piece of kindness and respect to our kin- 
dred and friends, to invite them to join with us in 
religious exercises, to go with us to hear a good 
sermon. What Cornelius ought to do, he thought 
his kinsmen and friends ought to do too ; and there- 
fore let them come and hear it at the first hand, 
that it may be no surprise to them to see him change 
upon it. 

IV. Here is the first interview between Peter and 
Cornelius ; in which we have, 

1. The profound, and indeed undue respect and 
honour which Cornelius paid to Peter ; (t. 25. ) He 
met him as he was coming in, and, instead of taking 
him in his arms, and embracing him as a friend, 
which would have been very acceptable to Peter, 
he fell down at his feet, and worshifified him ; some 
think, as a prince and a great man, according to the 
usage of the eastern countries ; others think, as an 
incarnate deity, or as if he took him to be the Mes- 
siah himself. His worshipping a man was indeed 
culpable ; but, considering his present ignorance, it 
was excusable, nay, and it was an evidence of some- 
thing in him that was very commendable — and that 
was a great veneration for divine and heavenly 
things : no wonder if, till he was better informed, he 
took him to be the Messiah, and therefore worship- 
ped him, whom he was ordered to send for by an 
angel from heaven. But the worshipping of his 
pretended successor, who is not only a man, but a 

Vol. VI.— O 



sinful man, the man of sin himself, is altogether in 
excusable, and such an absurdity as would be in 
credible, if we were not told before, that all the 
world would worship the beast, Rev. 13. 4. 

2. Peter's modest, and indeed just and pious re- 
fusal of this honour that was done him ; {v. 26.) He 
took him ufi into his arms, with his own hands, 
(though time was when he little thought he should 
ever either receive so much respect from, or shew 
so much affection to, an uncircumcised Gentile,) 
saying, " Stand u/t, I myself also am a man, and 
therefore not to be worshipped thus." The good 
angels of the churches, like the good angels of hea- 
ven, cannot bear to have the least of that honour 
shewn to them, which is due to God only. See thou 
do it not, saith the angel to John, (Rev. 19. 10. — 
22. 9.) and in like manner the apostle to Cornelius. 
How careful was Paul Ihat no man should think of 
hijn above what he saw in him ! 2 Cor. 12. 6. Christ's 
faithful servants could better bear to be vilified than 
to be deified. Peter did not entertain a surmise that 
his great respect for him, though excessive, might 
contrilnite to the success of his preaching, and there- 
fore, if he will be deceived let him be deceived ; no, 
let him know that Peter is a man, that the treasure 
is in earthen vessels, that he may value the treasure 
for its own sake. 

V. The account which Peter and Cornelius give 
to each other, and to the company, of the hand of 
Heaven in bringing them togethe^ ; ^s he talked 
with him — a-uvo/uixZy avr^, he went in, xk 27. Peter 
went in, talking familiarly with Cornelius ; endea- 
vouring, by the freedom of his converse with him, 
to take off something of that dread which he seemed 
to have of him ; and when he came in he found inany 
that were come together, more than he expected ; 
which added solemnity, as well as opportunity of 
doing good to this service. Now, 

1. Peter declares the direction God gave to him to 
come to those Gentiles, v. 28, 29. They knew it 
had never been allowed by the Jews, but always 
looked upon as an imlawful thing — ib'/utiTov — "an 
abomination, "/or a man that is a Jev, a native Jew 
as I am, to kee/i company ; or come untooneof ano- 
ther nation, a stranger, an uncircumcised Gentile. 
It was not made so by the law of God, but by the 
decree of their wise men, which they looked upop 
to be no less obliging. They did not forbid them to 
converse or traffic with Gentiles in the street or 
shop, or upon the exchange, but to eat with them. 
Even in Joseph's time, the Egyptians and Hedrews 
could not eat together, Gen. 43. 32. The three chil- 
dren would not defile themselves with the king's meat, 
Dan. 1. 8. They might not come into the house of 
a Gentile, for they looked upon it to be ceremonially 
polluted. Thus scornfully did the Jews look upon 
the Gentiles, who were not behindhand with them in 
contempt, as appears by many passages in the Latin 
poets. *' But now," saith Peter, " God hath shewed 
me, by a vision, that I should not call any man com- 
mon or unclean, nor refuse to converse with any 
man for the sake of his country. " Peter, who had 
taught his new converts to save themselves from the 
untoward generation of wicked men, {ch. 2. 40.) is 
now himself taught to join himself with the towardly 
generation of devout Gentiles. Ceremonial charac- 
ters were abolished, that more regard might be had 
to moral ones. Peter thought it necessary to let 
them know how he came to change his mind in this 
matter, and that it was by a divine revelation, lest 
he should be upbraided with it as having used liglit- 
ness. 
God having thus taken down the partition- wall, 
(1.) He assures them of his readiness to do them 
all the good offices he could ; that, when he kept at 
a distance, it was not out of any personal disgust to 
them, but only because he wanted leave from Hea 



106 



THE ACTS, X. 



ven, which now that he had received, he was at 
their service ; " Therefore came I unto youwUhout 
gainsaying, as soon as I ivas sent for ; ready to 
preach the same gospel to you that I have preached 
to the Jews." The disciples of Christ could not but 
have some notion of the preaching of the gosfiel to 
the Gentiles, but they imagined it must be only to 
those Gentiles that were first proselyted to the Jew- 
ish religion ; which mistake Peter acknowledges 
was now rectified. 

(2. ) He inquires wherein he might be serviceable 
to them ; " I ask therefore, for what intent ye have 
sent for me? What do ye expect from me, or what 
business have ye with me ?" Note, Thdse that desire 
the help of God's ministers, ought to look ^vell to it 
that they propose right ends to themselves in it;, and 
do it with a good intent, 

2. Cornelius declares the directions God gave to 
him to send for Peter, and that it was pui-ely in obe- 
dience to those directions that he had sent, for him. 
The?i we are right in our aims in sending for, and 
attending- on a gospel-rrtinistry, when we do it with 
a regard to the divine appointment instituting that 
ordinance, and requiring us to make use of it. Now, 

(1.) Cornelius gives an account of the angel's ap- 
pearing to him, and ordering him to send for Peter ; 
not as glorying in it, but as that which warranted j 
hjs expectation of a inessage from heaven by Peter. 

[]. ] He tells.how this vision found him employed ; 
{v. 30.) Four days ago J was fasting until this hour, 
this houj- of the day that it is now when Peter came, 
about t,he middle of the afternoon. By this it appears 
that religions fasting> in order to the greater serious- 
ness and solemnity of praying, was used by devout 
people that were: not Jews; the king of A^neveh 
firoclaimcd. a fast, Jonah 3. 5. Some give these 
words another sense. From four days ago I have 
. been fasting until this hour ; as if he had eaten no 
meat, or at least no meal, from that time to this. 
But it comes in as.an introduction to the story of the 
vision ; aiitl therefore the foriner must be the mean- 
ing.. He was at the ninth hour jiraying in his house, 
not in the synagogue, but at home, livill that 7neh 
firay, wherever they dwell. His praying in his 
house intimates that it was not a secret prayer in his 
closet, but in a more public room of his house, with 
"his family about him ; and perhaps after prayer he 
retired,, and had this vision. Observe, At the ninth 
hour of the day, three of the clock in the afternoon, 
.most people were travelling or trading, working in 
the fields, visiting their friends, taking their plea- 
sure, or taking a nap after dinner ; yet then Corne- 
•lius was at his devotions ; which shews how much 
he made religion his business ; and then it was that 
he had this message from heaven. Those that would 
hear comfortably from God, must be much in speak- 
ing to him. 

[2.] He describes the messenger that brought him 
this jTiessagc from heaven ; There stood a man before 
nie i/i bright clothing; such as Christ's was when 
he was transfigured, and tluit of the two angels who 
appeared at Clu-ist's resurrection, /Luke 24. 4.) and 
at his ascension, {ch. 1. 10.) shewing their relation 
to tlie world of liglit. 

[3.] He repeats the message that was sent him, 
(y. 31, 32.) just as we had it, v. 4 — 6. Only here 
it is said, Thy firayer is heard. We are not told 
what his prayer was ; Init if this message was an 
answer to it, and it should seem it was, we may suj)- 
pose that finding the deficiency of natural light, and 
that it left him at a loss liow to obtain the pardon of 
his sin, and the favour of Ciod, he ])rayed that God 
would ninkc some further discoveries of himself to 
him, and of the way of salvation. "\\'ell," saith 
the angel, "send for Peter, and he shall give thee 
such a discoveiy." 

(2.) He declares his own and his friends' readi- 



ness to receive the message he had to deliver ; {v 
33.) Immediately therefore I sent to thee, as I was 
directed, and thou hast well done that thou hast 
come to us, though we are Gentiles. Note, Faithful 
ministers do well to come to people that are willing 
and desirous to receive instruction from them ; to 
come when they are sent for ; it is as good a deed 
as they can do. 

W^ell, Peter is come to do his part ; but will they 
do their's ? Yes. Thou art here prepared to speak, 
and we are here prepared to hear, 1 Sam. 3; 9, 10. 
Observe, 

[1.] Their religious attendance upon the word ; 
" We are all here present before God ; we are here 
in a religious manner, are here 'as worshippers;" 
(they thus compose themselves into a. serious, awful 
frame of spirit ;) '_' therefore, because thou art come 
to us by such A warrant, on such an errand, because 
we have such a price in our hand as we never had 
before, and perhaps may ne\er have again, we are 
ready now at this time of worship, here in this place 
of worship ;" (though it was in a private house ;) 
" we are prese?it, ■Tirdf>ea-/uiv — we are at the business, 
and are ready to come at a call." If we would have 
God's special presence at an ordinance, we must be 
there with a special presence, an ordinance presence ; 
Here lam. " Jl'e are all present, all that Were in- 
vited ; we, and all that belong to us ; we, and all ' 
that is within us."' The. whole of the man must be 
present ; not the body here, and the heart, with the 
fool's eyes, in the ends of the earth. But that which 
makes it indeed a religious attendance, is, We are 
present before God. In holy ordinances we present 
ourselves unto the Lord, and we -must be as before 
him, as those that see his eye upon us. 

[2.] The'intention of this attendance ; " We ate 
present to hear all things that are conunandcd thee 
of God, and given thee in charge to be delivered to 
us." Observe, First, Peter was there to preach all 
things that were connnanded him of God ; for as he 
had an ample commission to preach the gospel, so 
he had full instructions what to preach. Secondly, 
They were ready to hear, not whatever he pleased 
to say, but wliat he was commanded of God to say. 
The truths of Christ were not communicated to the 
apostles to be published or stifled as they thought fit, 
but intrusted with them to be published to the world- 
" We are ready to hear all, to come at the begin- 
ning of the service, and stiiy to the end, and be at- 
tentive all the while, else how can we hear all? We 
are desirous to hear all that thou art commissioned 
to preach, though it be ever so displeasing to flesh 
and blood, and ever so contrary to our former no- 
tions or present secular interests. We are ready to 
hear all, and therefore let nothing be kept back, that 
is profitable for us. " 

34. Then Potor opened his month, and 
said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no 
respecter of persons : 35. But in every 
nation he that feareth liim, and worketh 
righteousness, is accepted witli him. 36. 
The word wliich G^ori sent unto the cliildren 
of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ : 
(he is Lord of all :) 37. Tliat word, I say., 
ye know, wliich was published throughout 
all Judea, and began from Galile(% after 
the baptism which John preached ; 38. 
How God anointed .Tesus of Nazareth with 
the Holy Ghost, and with power: who 
went about doing good, and healing all that 
were oppressed of the devil ; for God was 
with him. 39. And we are witnesses of 



THE ACTS, X. 



107 



all things which he did, both in the land 
of the Jews, and in Jerusalem ; whom they 
slew and hanged on a tree : 40. Him God 
raised up the third day, and shewed him 
openly; 41. Not to all the peqple, but 
unto witnesses chosen before of God, even 
to us, who did eat and drink with him after 
he rose from the dead. 42. And he com- 
manded us to preach unto the people, and 
to testify that it is he which was ordained 
of God to he the Judge of quick and dead. 
43. To him give all the prophets witness, 
that through his name whosoever believeth 
in him shall receive remission of sins. 

We have here Peter's sermon preached to Cor- 
nelius and his friends : that is, an abstract or sum- 
mary of it ; for we have reason to think that he did 
ivith many other words testify and exhort to this 
purport. It is intimated, that he deUvered himself 
■with a great deal of solemnity and gravity, but with 
freedom and copiousness, in that phrase, that he 
ofieiied his mouth and sfiake, v. 34. O ye Corin- 
thians, our month is o/ien to you, saith Paul, 2 Cor. 
6. 11. " You shall find us communicative, if we but 
find you inquisitive." Hitherto the mouths of the 
apostles had been shut to the uncircumised Gentiles, 
they had nothing to say to them ; but now God gave 
unto them, as he did to Ezekiel, the opening of the 
mouth. 

This excellent sermon of Peter's is admirably 
suited to the circumstances of those to whom he 
preached it ; for it was a new sermon. 

I. Because they were Gentiles to whoni he preach- 
ed ; he shews that, notwithstanding that, they were 
interested in the gospel of Christ, which he had to 
preach, and entitled to the benefit of it, upon an 
equal foot with the Jews. It was necessary that this 
should be cleared, or else with what comfort could 
either he preach or they hear ? He therefore lays 
down this as an undoubted principle, that God is no 
respecter of persons ; doth not know favour injudg- 
ment, as the Hebrew phrase is ; which magistrates 
are forbidden to do, (Dent. 1. 17. — 16. 19. Prov. 24. 
23. ) and are blamed for doing, Ps. 82. 2. And it is 
often said of God, that he doth not respect persons, 
Deut. 10. 17. 2 Chron. 19. 7. Job 34. 19. Rom. 2, 
11. Col. 3. 25. 1 Pet. 1. 17. He doth not give judg- 
ment in favour of a man, for the sake of any external 
advantage foreign to the merits of the cause. God 
never perverts judgijient upon personal regards ahd 
considerations, nor countenances a wicked man in 
a wicked thing, for the sake of his beauty, or stature, 
his country, parentage, relations, wealth or honour 
in the world. God, as a Benefactor, gives favours 
arbitrarily and by sovereignty, (Deut. 7. 7, 8. — 9.5, 
6. Matt. 20. 10.) but he does not, as a Judge, so 
give sentence ; hut in every nation, and under eveiy 
denomination, he that fears God, and works righte- 
ousness is accepted of him, v. 35. 

The case is plainly thus : 

1. God never did, nor ever will, justify and save a 
wicked Jew that lived and died impenitent, though 
he was of the seed of ylbrahani, and a Hebrew of the 
Hebrews, and had all the honour and advantages 
iJi attended circumcision. He does and will ren- 
A^T indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, 
ufi07i exiery soul of man that doeth evil ; and of the 
Jew first ; whose privileges and professions, instead 
of screening him from the judgment of God, will 
but aggravate his guilt and condemnation. See Rom. 
2. 3, 8, 9, 17. Though God has favoured the Jews, 
•jbove other nations, with the dignities of visible 



church-membership, yet he will not therefore ac- 
cept of any particular persons of that dignity, if they 
allow themselves in immoralities contradictory to 
their profession ; and particularly in persecution, 
which was now, more than any other, the national 
sin of the Jews. 

2. He never did, nor ever will, reject or refuse an 
honest Gentile, who, though "he has not the privi- 
leges and advantages that the Jews have, yet, like 
Cornelius, fears God, and worships him, and works 
righteousness, is just and charitable towards all men, 
who lives up to the light he has, both in a sincere 
devotion, and in a regular conversation, whatever 
nation he is of, though ever so far remote from kin- 
dred to the seed of Abraham ; though ever so despi- 
cable, nay though in ever so ill a name, that shall 
be no prejudice to him. God judges of men by their 
hearts, not bv th«ir country or parentage ; and 
wherever he finds an upright man, he will be found 
an upright God; Ps. 18. 25. Observe, Fearing God, 
and working righteousness, must go together ; for 
as righteousness toward men is a branch of ti-ue re- 
ligion, so religion toward God is a bi-anch of univer- 
sal r/§-/;/eo?«?2(°ss. Godliness and honesty must go 
together, and neither will excuse for the want of the 
other. But where these are predominant, no doubt 
is to be ma^e of acceptance with God. Not that 
any man, since the fall, can obtain the favour of 
God, otherwise than through the mediation of Jesus 
Christ, and by the grace of God in him ; but those 
that have not the knowledge of him, and therefore 
cannot have an explicit regard to him, may yet re- 
ceive gi'ace from God for his sake, to fear God, and 
to work righteousness ; and wherever God gives 
grace to do so, as he did to Cornelius, he will, 
through Christ accept the work of his own hands. 

Now, (1.) This was always a truth, before Peter 
perceived it, that God respecteth no 7)um's person ; 
it was the fixed rule of judgment from the beginning ; 
If thou doest well, shall thou not be accepted ? And 
if not well, sin, and the punishment of it, lies at the 
door, Gen. 4. 7. God will not ask in the great day 
\yhat country men Avere of, but what they were, 
what they did, and how they stood affected toward 
him and toward their neighbours ; and if men's 
personal characters received neither advantage nor 
disadvantage from the great difference that was be- 
tween Jews and Gentiles, much less from any lesser 
difference of sentiments and practices that may hap- 
pen to be among Christians themselves, as those 
about meats and days, Rom.- 14. It is certain, the 
kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righte- 
ousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost ; and 
he that in these things serveth Christ, is accepted 
of God, and ought to be approved of men ; for dare 
we reject those whom God doth not ? 

(2.) Yet now it was made more clear than it had 
been ; this gi'eat truth had been darkened by the 
covenant of peculiarity made with Israel, and the 
liadges of distinction put upon them ; the ceremo- 
nial law was a wall of partition between them and 
other nations ; in it, it was true that God favoured 
that ?iation, (Rom. 3. 1, 2. — 9. 4.) and from thence 
particular persons among them were ready to infer, 
that they were sure of God's acceptance, though 
they lived as they listed ; and that no fientile could 
possibly be accepted of God. God had said a gieat 
deal by the prophets to prevent and rectify this mis- 
take, but now at length he doth it effectually, by 
abolishing the covenant of peculiarity, and repeal- 
ing the ceremonial law, and so setting the matter at 
large, and both JcAv^nd Gentile upon the same level 
before God ; and Peter is here made to perceive it, 
by comparing the vision which he had with that 
which Cornelius had. Now in Christ Jesus, it is 
plain, neither circu7ncision availeth any thing, nor 
uncircumcision. Gal. 5. 6. Col. 3. 11. 



108 



THE ACTS, X. 



II. Because they were Gentiles inhabiting a place 
within the confines of the land of Israel, he refers 
them to what they themselves could not but know 
concerning the life and doctrine, the preaching and 
miracles, the death and sufferings of our Lord Jesus ; 
for these were things the report of which spread 
into every corner of the nation, v. 37, &c. It facili- 
tates the work of ministers, when they deal with 
such as have some knowledge of the things of God, 
to which they may appeal, and on which they may 
build. 

1. They knew in general the word, that is, the 
gospel, vjhich God sent to the children '^f Israel. 
That word, I say, ye know, t. 37. Though the 
Gentiles were not admitted to hear it, (Christ and 

• his disciples were not sent but to the lost sheep, of the 
house of Israel,) yet they could not but hear of it, it 
was all the talk both of city ai^d country. We are 
often told in the gospels, how the fame of Christ 
went into all parts of Canaan, when he was on 
earth, as afterward the fame of his gospel went into 
all parts of the world, Rom. 10. 18. That word, 
that divine' word, that word of power and grace, 
you knovj. (1. ) What the purport of this word was. 
God by it published the good tidings of peace by Je- 
sus Christ, so it should be read ; ivctyyixi^oiutv®' 
hphxv. It is God himself that proclaims /zeacf, who 
justly might have proclaimed war ; he lets the world 
of mankind know that he is willing to be at peace 
with them through Jesus Christ ; in him he was re- 
conciling the world to himself. (2. ) To whom it was 
sent ; to the children of Israel, in the first place, 
the prime offer is made to them ; this all their 
neighbours heard of, and were ready to envy them 
those advantages of the gospel, more than thev ever 
envied them those of their law. Then said they 
among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things 
for the?n, Ps. 126. 3. 

2. They knew the several matters of fact relating 
to this word of the gospel sent to Israel. 

(1.) They knew the baptism of repentance which 
John preached by way of introduction to it, and in 
which the gospel first began, Mark 1. 1. They 
knew what an extraordinary man John was, and 
what a direct tendency his preaching had to prepare 
the way of the Lord. They knew what great flock- 
ing there was to his baptism, what an interest he 
had, and what he did. 

(2.) They knew that immediately after John's 
baptism the gospel of Christ, that word of peace, 
was published throughout all Judea, and that it 
took rise from Galilee. The twelve apostles, and 
seventy disciples, and our Master himself, published 
these glad tidings in all parts of the land ; so that 
we may suppose there was not a town or village in 
all the land of Canaan, but had had the gospel 
preached in it. 

(3.) They knew that Jesus of N'azareth, when he 
was here upon earth, went about doing good. They 
knew what a Benefactor he was to that nation, both 
to the souls and the bodies of men ; how he made it 
his business to do good to all, and never did hurt to 
any. He was not idle, but still doing ; not selfish, 
but doing good ; did not confine himself to one place ; 
nor wait till people came to him to seek his help ; 
but he went to them, went about from place to place, 
and wherever he came he was doing gor>d. Hereby 
he shewed that he was sent of God, who is good 
and doeth good ; and therefore doeth good, because 
he is good : and who hereby left not himself without 
witness to the world, in that he did good, ch. 14. 17. 
And in this he hath set us an sample of indefatiga- 
ble industry in serving God and our generation ; for 
therefore we came into the world, that we may do 
all the good we can in it ; and therein, like Christ, 
we must always abide and abound. 

(4,) They knew more particularly that he healed 



all that were oppressed of the devil, and helped them 
from under his oppressing power : bv this it ap- 
peared not only that he was sent of God, as it was a 
kindness to men ; but that he was sent to destroy the 
works of the dexnl ; for thus he obtained many a 
victory over him. 

(3. ) They knew that the Jews put him to death ; 
they slew him by hanging him on a tree. When 
Peter preached to the Jews, he said, whom ye slew ; 
but now that he preached to the Gentiles, it is whom 
they slew ; they to whom he had done and designed 
so much good. 

All this they knew ; but lest they should think it 
was only a report, and was magnified, as reports 
usually are, more than the trutli ; Peter, for him- 
self and the rest of the apostles, attests it ; {v. 39.) 
JVe are witnesses, eye-witnesses, of all things which 
he did ; and ear-witnesses of the doctrine which he 
preached, both in the land of the Jews and in Jeru- 
salem, in city and country. 

3. They did know, or might know, by all this, 
that he had a commission from heaven to preach 
and act as he did. This he still harps upon in his 
discourse, and takes all occasions to hint it to them. 
Let them know, 

(1.) That this Jesus is Lord of all ; it comes in 
in a ])arenthesis, but is the principal proposition in- 
tended to be proved, that Jesus Christ, by whom 
peace is made between God and man, is Lord of all ; 
not only as God over all blessed for evermore, but 
as Mediator, all power both in heaven and in earth 
is put into his hand, and all judgment committed to 
him. He is Lord of angels, they are all his humble 
servants. He is Lord of the powers of darkness, 
for he hath triumphed over them. He is King of 
nations, has a power over all flesh ; he is King of 
saints, all the children of God are his scholars, his 
subjects, his soldiers. 

(2.) That God anointed him with the Holy Ghost 
and with power, he was both authorized and enabled 
to do what he did by a divine anointing ; whence he 
was called Christ — the Messiah — the j^nointed One. 
The Holy Ghost descended upon him at his bap- 
tism, and he was full of power both in preaching 
and working miracles, which was the seal of a di- 
vine mission. 

(3.) That God was with him, v. 38. His works 
were wrought in God ; God not only sent him, but 
was present with him all along, owned him, stood 
by him, and carried him on in all his services and 
sufferings. Note, Those whom God anoints he will 
accompany ; he will himself be with those to whom 
he has given his Spirit. 

III. Because they had heard no more for certain 
concerning this Jesus, Peter declares to them his 
resurrection from the dead, and the proofs of it, that 
they might not think that when he was slain there 
was an end of him. 

Probably, they had heard at Ccsarca some talk 
of his being risen from the dead ; but the talk of it 
was soon silenced by that vile suggestion of the Jews, 
that his disciples came by night and stole him away. 
And therefore Peter insists upon this as the main 
support of that word which ])reacheth peace by 
Jesus ('hrist. 

1. The power by which he rose, is incontestably 
divine, (v. 40.) Him God raised up the third day ; 
which not mily disproved all the calumnies and ac- 
cusations he was laid under by men, but effectually 
proved God's acce|)tance of the satisfaction he made 
for the sin of man by the blood of his cross. He did 
not break prison, but had a legal discharge. God 
raised him u/i. 

2. The proofs of his resurrection were incontesta- 
bly clear ; for God shewed him openly. He gave 
him to be made manifest — iSuKiv auTcv iw^avH^ivfVflat/, 
to be visible, evidently so ; so he appears, as thai it 



THE ACTS, X. 



109 



appears beyond contradiction to be He, and not ano- 
ther. It was such a shewing of him as amounted 
to a demonstration of the truth of his resurrection. 
He shewed him not publicly indeed, (it was not 
open in that sense,) but evidently ; not to all the 
fieofile, who had been the witnesses of his death ; 
by resisting all the evidences he had given them of 
his divine mission in his miracles, they had forfeited 
the favour of being eye-witnesses of this great proof 
of it ; they who immediately forged and promoted 
that lie of his being stolen away, were justly ^en 
ufi to strong delusions to believe it, and not suf- 
fered to be undeceived by his being shewn to all the 
people ; and so much the greater shall be the bless- 
edness of those who have not seen, and yet have 
believed. JVec ille se in vulgus edixit, ne im/iii er- 
rore, liberarentur ; lit etjides non firxmio mediocri 
destinato difficultate constaret — He shelved not him- 
self to the fieofile at large, lest the imfiious among 
them should have been forthivith loosed from their 
error, and that faith, the reward of which is so am- 
ple, might be exercised with a degree of difficulty. 
Tertulhani Apologia, cap. 11. But though all the 
people did not see him, a sufficient number saw him, 
to attest the truth of his resurrection ; the testator's 
declaring his last will and testament needs not to be 
before all the people, it is enough that it be done 
before a competent number of credible witnesses ; 
so the resurrection of Christ was proved before suf- 
ficient witnesses. (1.) They were not so by chance, 
but they were chosen before of God to be witnesses 
of it, and, in order to that, had their education under 
the Lord Jesus, and intimate converse with him ; 
that, having known him so intimately Before, they 
might the better be assured it was he. (2.) They 
had not a sudden and transient view of him, but a 
great deal of free conversation with him ; they did 
eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 
This implies that they saw him eat and drink, wit- 
ness their dining with him at the sea of Tiberias, 
and the two disciples supping with him at Emmaus ; 
and this proved that he had a true and real body. 
But this was not all, they saw him without any tei'- 
ror or consternation, which might have rendered 
them incompetent witnesses, for they saw him so 
frequently, and he conversed with them so fami- 
liarly, that they did eat and drink with him. It is 
brought as a proof of the clear view which the no- 
bles of Israel had of the glory of God, (Exod. 24. 
11.) that they saw God, and did eat and drink. 

IV. He concludes with an inference from all this, 
that therefore that which they all ought to do, was, 
to believe in this Jesus : he was sent to tell Cornelius 
what he must do, and this is it ; his praying and his 
giving alms were very well, but one thing he lacked, 
he must believe in Christ. Observe, 

1. Why he must believe in him ; faith has refer- 
ence to a testimony, and the christian faith is btdlt 
upon the foundation of the afiostles and prophets, it 
is built upon the testimony given by them. 

(1.) By the apostles. Peter as foreman speaks 
for the rest, that God commanded them, and gave 
them in charge to preach to the people, and to testify 
concerning Christ ; so that their testimony was not 
only credible, but authentic, and what we may ven- 
ture upon. Their testimony is God's testimony ; 
and they are his witnesses to the world ; they do not 
only say it as matter of news, but testify it as matter 
of record, by which men must be judged. 

(2.) By the prophets of the Old Testament ; 
whose testimony beforehand, not only concerning 
his suflFerings, but concerning the design and inten- 
tion of them, very much corroborates the apostles' 
testimony concerning them ; (t'. 43.) To him give 
all the prophets witness. We have reason to think 
that Cornelius and his friends were no strangers to 
the writings of the prophets. Out of the mouth of 



these two clouds of witnesses, so exactly agreeing, 
this word is established. 

2. What they must believe concerning him. 

(1.) That we are all accountable to Christ as our 
Judge ; this the apostles were commanded to testify 
to the world ; that this Jesus is ordained of God to 
be the Judge of the quick and dead, v. 42. He is 
empowered to prescribe the terms of salvation, that 
rule by which we must be judged ; to give laws both 
to quick and dead, both to Jew and Gentile ; and he 
is appointed to determine the everlasting condition 
of all the children of men at the great day ; of those 
that shall be found alive, and of those tliat shall be 
raised from the dead. He hath assured us of this, 
in that he hath raised him from the dead, {ch. 17. 31.) 
so that it is the great concern of every one of us, in 
the belief of this, to seek his favour, and to make 
him our Friend. 

(2.) That if we believe in him, we shall all be 
justified by him as our Righteousness, v. 43. The 
prophets, when they spake of the death of Christ, 
did witness this, that through his name, for his sake, 
and upon the account of his merit, whosoever be- 
lieveth in him, Jew or Gentile, shall receive remission 
of sins. That is the great thing we need, without 
which we are undone, and which the convinced 
conscience is most inquisitive after, which the carnal 
Jews promised themselves from their ceremonial 
sacrifices and purifications, yea, and the heathen 
too from their atonements, but all in \ ain ; it is to 
be had only through the na?ne of Christ, and only by 
those that believe in his name ; and they that do so, 
may be assured of it ; their sins shall be pardoned, 
and there shall be no condemnation to them. And 
the remission of sins lays a foundation for all other 
favours and blessings, by taking that out of the way, 
that hinders them. If sin be pardoned, all is well, 
and shall end everlastingly well. 

44. While Peter yet spake these words, 
the Holy Ghost fell on all them which 
heard the word. 45, And they of the cir- 
cumcision which believed were astonished, 
as many as came with Peter, because that 
on the Gentiles also was poured out the 
gift of the Holy Ghost. 4G. For they heard 
them speak with tongues, and magnify God. 
Then answered Peter, 47. Can any man 
forbid water, that these should not be bap- 
tized, which have received the Holy Ghost 
as well as we ? 48. And he commanded 
them to be baptized in the name of the 
Lord. Then pra}'ed they him to tarry cer- 
tain days. 

We have here the issue and effect of Peter's ser- 
mon to Cornelius and his friends. He did not labour 
in vain among them, but they were all brought home 
to Christ. Here we have, 

I. God's owning of Peter's word, by conferring 
the Holy Ghost upon the hearers of^ it, and im- 
mediately upon the hearing of it ; {v. 44. ) While 
Peter was yet speaking these words, and perhaps 
designed to sav more, he was happily superseded by 
visible indications that the Holy Ghost, even in his 
miraculous gifts and pov/ers, fell on all them which 
heard the word, even as he did on the apostles at 
first; so Peter saith, ch. 11. 15. Therefore some 
think it was with a rushing mighty wind, and m 
cloven tongues, as that was. Observe, 

1. When the Holy Ghost fell upon them ; while 
Peter was preaching. Thus God bare witness to 
what he said, and "accompanied it with a divine 
power. Thus were the signs of an apostle wrought 



110 



THE ACTS, XL 



among them, 2 Cor. 12. 12. Though Peter could 
not give the Holy Ghost, yet the Holy Ghost being 
given along with the word of Peter, by that it ap- 
peared he was sent of God. The Holy Ghost fell 
upon others after they were baptized, for their con- 
firmation ; but upon these Gentiles before they were 
•baptized: as Abraham was justified by faith, being 
yet in uncircumcision ; to shew that God is not tied 
to a method, nor confines himself to external signs. 
% The Holy Ghost fell upon those that were neither 
■ circumcised nor baptized ; for it is the S/iirit that 
quickeneth, the jiesh firofiteth nothing. 

2. How it appeared that the Holy Ghost was 
fallen upon them ; {v. 46. ) They sfiake ivith tongues 
which they never learned, perhaps the Hebrew, 
the holv tongue ; as the preachers were enabled to 
speak the vulgar tongues, that they might com- 
municate the doctrine of Christ to the hearers, so, 
probably, the hearers were immediately taught the 
sacred tongue, that they might examine the proofs 
which the preachers produced out of the Old Testa- 
ment in the original. Or, their being enabled to 
speak with tongues, intimated that they were all 
designed for ministers, and by this first descent of 
the Spirit upon them were qualified to preach the 
gospel to othei's, which they did but now receive 
themselves. But observe, when they spake with 
tongues, they magnijied God, they spake of Christ 
and the benefits of redemption, which Peter had 
been preaching of to the glory of God. Thus did 
they on whom the Holy Ghost first descended, ch. 
2. 11. Note, Whatever ^ift we ■ are endued with, 
we ought to honour God with it, and particularly the 
gift of speaking, and all the improvements of it. 

3. What impression it made upon the believing 
Jews that were present ; (t>. 45. ) They of the cir- 
cumcision tvhich beliei'ed, were astonished ; those six 
that came along with Peter ; it surprised them ex- 
ceedingly, and perhaps gave them some uneasiness, 
because that ufion the Gentiles also ivas fiourcd out 
the gift of the Holy GAos/, which they thought had 
been appropriated to their own nation. Had they 
understood the scriptures of the Old Testament, 
which pointed at this, it would not have been such 
an astonishment to them ; but by our mistaken no- 
tions of things, we create difficulties to ourselves in 
the methods of divine providence and grace. 

II. Peter's owning God's work in baptizing those 
on whom the Holy Ghost fell. Observe, 

1. Though they had received the Holy Ghost, yet 
it was requisite they should be baptized ; though 
God is not tied to instituted ordinances, we are ; and 
no extraordinary gifts set us above them, but rather 
oblige us so much the more to conform to them. 
Some in our days would have argued, "These are 
bai)tized with the Holy Ghost, and therefore what 
need have they to be baptized with ivater? It is be- 
low them." No ; it is not below them, while water- 
baptism is an ordinance of Christ, and the door of 
admission into the visible church, and a seal of the 
new covenant. 

2. Thnui;;h thev were Gentiles, yet, having re- 
ceived the Holy Ghost, they might be admitted to 
baptism; (t'. 47.) Can any man, though ever so 
rigid ■d.l(t\y, forbid ivater, that these should not be 
hafitized, ivho have received the Holy Ghost as well 
as we ? The ai-gument is conclusive ; can we deny 
the sign to those who have received the thing signi- 
fied ? Are not those on whom God has bestowed 
the grace of the covenant, plainly entitled to the 
seals of the covenant ? Surely, they that have re- 
ceived the Spirit as well as we, ought to receive bap- 
tism as well as we ; for it becomes us to follow God's 
indications, and to take those into communion with 
(IS, whom he hath taken into communion with him- 
self. God hath promised to pour his Spirit upon the 
"iced of the faithful, upon their offspring ; and who 



then can forbid water, that they should not be bap 
tized, who have received the firoinise of the Holy 
Ghost as well as we ? Now it appears why the 
Spirit was given them before they were baptized — 
because otherwise Peter could not have persuaded 
himself to baptize them, any more than to have 
preached to them, if he had not been ordered tp do 
it by a vision ; at least, he could not have avoided 
the censure of those of the circumcision that believed. 
Thus is there one unusual ste]) of divine grace taken 
after another to bring the Gentiles into the church. 
How well is it for us that the grace of a good God is 
so much more extensive than the charity even of 
some good men ! 

3. Peter did not baptize them himself, but com- 
manded them to be baptized, v. 48. It is probable 
that some of the brethren who came with him, did 
it by his order, and that he declined it for the same 
reason that Paul did — lest those that were baptized 
by him should think the better of themselves for it ; 
or he should seem to have baptized i7i his own name, 
1 Cor. 1. 15. The apostles received the commis- 
sion to^o arid disciple all nations by baptism. But 
it was prayer and the ministry of the word that they 
were to give themselves to. And Paul says, that 
he was sent, not to baptize, but to preach ; which 
was the more noble and excellent work. The busi- 
ness of baptizing was therefore ordinarily devolved 
upon the inferior ministers ; these acted by tht or- 
ders of the apostles, who might therefore 6e said to 
do it. Qui per alterum facit, per seipsum facere 
dicitur — What a man does by another, he may be 
said to do by himself 

Lastly, Their owning both Peter's word and 
God's work in their desire of further advantage by 
Peter's ministry; They prayed him to tarry certain 
days. They could not pre s him to reside constantly 
among them, they knew ihat he had work to do in 
other places, and that for the present he was ex- 
pected at Jerusalem ; yet they were not willing he 
should go away immediately, but earnestly begged 
he would stay for some time among them, that they 
might be further instnicted by him in the things 
pertaining to the kingdom of God.' Note, 1. Those 
who have some acquaintance with Christ, cannot 
but covet more. 2. Even those that have received 
the Holy Ghost, must see their need of the ministry 
of the word. 

CHAP. XL 

In this chapter, we have, I. Peter's necessary vindication of 
what he did in receivina; Cornelius and his friends into the 
church, from the censure he lay under for it among the 
brethren, and their acquiescence in if, v. 1 . . 18. II. The 
good success of the gospel at Antioch, and the parts adja- 
cent, V. 19. .21. III. The carrying' on of the eood work 
that was beg;un at Antioch, hy the ministry of Barnabas 
first, and afterward of Paul iti conjunction with him, and 
the lasting name of Cliri^^tian first fjiven to the disciples 
there, V. 22 .. 26. IV. A prediction of an approachin? fa- 
mine, and the contribution that was made among the Gen- 
tile converts for ttie relief of the poor saints in Judea, upon 
that occasion, v. 27 . . SO. 

1. A ND the apostles and brethren that 
J\. ^^•pro in Judea heard that the Gen- 
tiles had also received the word of God. 2. 
And when Peter was come up to .Terusa- 
lem, they that were of the circumcision 
contended with him, 3. Saying, Thou 
wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst 
eat with them. 4. But Peter rehearsed 
the matter from the bcg^inning, and ex- 
pounded it by order unto them, sayinfi, 5. 
I was in the city of .Toppa praying : and in 
a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel 



THE ACTS, Xj 



111 



descend, as it had been a great sheet, let 
down from heaven by four corners ; and it 
came even to me : 6. Upon the which 
when I had fastened mine eyes, I consider- 
ed, and saw four-footed beasts of the earth, 
and wild beasts, and creeping things, and 
fowls of tlie air. 7. And I heard a voice 
saying unto me. Arise, Peter ; slay and eat. 
8. But I said, Not so, Lord : for nothing 
common or unclean halh at any time en- 
tered into my mouth. 9. But the Voice an- 
swered me again fiom heaven, What God 
hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 
1 0. And this was done three times : and all 
vyere drawn up again into heaven. 11. 
And, behold, immediately there were three 
men already come unto the house where I 
was, sent from Cesarea unto me. 12. And 
the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing 
doubting. Moreover, these six brethren 
accompanied me, and we entered into the 
man's house : 13. And he shewed us how 
he had seen an angel in his house, which 
stood and said unto him. Send men to 
Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname 
is Peter; 14. Who shall tell thee words, 
whereby thou and all thy house shall be 
saved. 1 5. And as I began to speak, the 
Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the 
beginning. 16. Then remembered I the 
word of the Lord, how that he said, John 
indeed baptized with water ; but ye shall 
be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17. 
Forasmuch then as God gave them the like 
gift as he did unto us, who believed on the 
Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I 
could withstand God ? 18. When they 
heard these things, they held their peace, 
and glorified God, saying. Then hath God 
also to the Gentiles granted repentance 
unto life. 

The preaching of the gospel to Cornelius, was a 
thing which we poor sinners of the Gentiles have 
reason to reflect upon with a great deal of joy and 
thankfulness ; for it was the bringing of light to us 
who sat in darkness. Now it being so great a sur- 
prise to the believing as well as the unbelieving 
Jews, it is worth while to inquire how it took ; and 
what comments were made upon it ? And here we 
find, 

I. Intelligence was presently brought of it to the 
church in Jerusalem, and thereabouts ; for Cesarea 
was not so far from Jerusalem but that they might 
presently hear of it. Some for good-will, and some 
for ill-will, would spread the report of it ; so that be- 
fore he was himself returned to Jerusalem, the afios- 
tles and the brethren there, and in Judea, heard that 
the Gentiles also had received the ivord of God, that 
is, the gospel of Christ ; which is not only a word of 
God, but the word of God ; for it is the summary 
and centre of all divine revelation. They received 
Christ ; for his name is called, the Word of God, 
Rev. 19. 13. Not only that the Jews who were dis- 
persed into the Gentile countries, and the Gentiles 
who were proselyted to the Jewish religion, but that 



the Gentiles also themselves, with whom it had 
hitherto been thought unlawful to hold common corl- 
versation, were taken into church-communion, that 
they had received the word of God. That is, 

1. That tVie word of God was preached to them ; 
which was a greater honour put upon them than 
they expected. Yet I wonder this should seem 
strange to those who wei-e themselves commissioned 
to preach the gos/iel to every creature. But thus 
often are the prejudices of pride and bigotry held 
fast against the clearest discoveries of divine truth. 

2. That it was entertained and submitted to by 
them, which was a better work wrought upon them 
than they expected. It is likely they had got a no- 
tion, that if the gospel were preached to the Gen- 
tiles, it would be to no pui^iose, because the proofs 
of the gospel were fetched so much out of the Old 
Testament, which the Gentiles did not receive; 
they looked upon them as not inclined to religion, 
nor likely to receive the impressions of it ; and there- 
fore were suqjrised to hear that they had received 
the word of the Lord. Note, We are too apt to des- 
pair of doing good to those who yet, when they are 
tried, prove very tractable. 

II. That offence was taken at it by the believing 
Jews ; {v. 2, 3. ) ]Vhen Peter ivas himself co7ne ufi to 
Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision, those 
Jewish converts that still retained a veneration, for 
circumcision, contended with him, they charged it 
upon him as a crime, that he tvent in to men uncir- 
cumcised, and did eat with them ; and thereby they 
think he has stained, if not forfeited, the honour of 
his apostleship, and ought to come under the cen- 
sure of the church : so far were they from looking 
upon him as infallible, or as the supreme head of the 
church that all were accountable to, and he to none. 
See here, 

1. How much it is the bane and damage of the 
church, to monopolize it, and to exclude those from 
it, and from the benefit of the means of grace, that 
are not in every thing as we are. There are nar- 
row souls that are for engrossing the riches of the 
church, as there are that would engross the riches 
of the world, and would he placed alone in the midst 
of the earth. These men were of Jonah's mind, 
who, in a jealousy^for his people, was angry that the 
JVinevites received the word of God, and justified 
himself in it. 

2. Christ's ministers must not think it strange if 
they be censured and quarrelled with, not only by 
their professed enemies, but by their professing 
friends ; and not only for their follies and infirmities, 
but for their good actions seasonably and well done ; 
but if we have proved our own work, we may have 
I'ejoicing in ourselves, as Peter had, whatever re- 
flections we may have from our brethren. Those 
that are zealous and courageous in the scn'ice of 
Christ, must expect to be censured by those Avho, 
under pretence of being cautious, are cold and indif- 
ferent. Those who are of catholic, generous, cha- 
ritable principles, must expect to be censured by 
such as are conceited and strait-laced ; who say. 
Stand by thyself, Jam holier than thou. 

III. Peter gave such a full and fair account of the 
matter of fact, as was sufficient, without any further 
argument or apolog\', both to justify him, and to sa- 
tisfy them : (t. 4. ) He rehearsed the matter from (he 
beginning, and laid it before them in order ; and 
then could appeal to themselves whether he had 
done amiss : tor it appeared all along God's own 
work, and not his. 

1. He takes it for granted, that if they had rightly 
understood how the matter was, they would not 
have contended with him, but rather have concurred 
with him, and commended him. And it is a good 
reason why we should be moderate in our censures, 
and sparing of them, because if we rightly under 



112 



THE ACTS, XI. 



stopd that which we are so forward to run down, 
perhaps we should see cause to run in with it. 
When we see others do that which looks suspicious, 
instead of contending with them, we should int^uire 
of them what ground they went upon ; and it we 
have not an opportunity to do that, should ourselves 
put the best construction upon it that it will bear, 
f>nd judge nothing before the time. 

2. He is very willing to stand right in their opinion, 
and takes pains to give them satisfaction ; he does 
not insist upon his being the chief of the a;i^stles, 
for he was far from the thought of that supremacy 
which his pretended successors claim. Nor did he 
think it enough to tell them that he was satisfied 
himself in the grounds he went upon, and then they 
needed not trouble themselves about it ; but he is 
ready to gix<e a reason of the hofie that is in him con- 
cernmg the Gentiles, and why he had receded from 
his former sentiments, which were the same with 
their's. It is a debt we owe both to ourselves and to 
our brethren, to set those actions of ours in a trae 
light, which at first looked ill, and gave offence ; 
that we may remove stumbling-blocks out of our 
brethren's way. 

Let us now see what Peter pleads in his own de- 
fence. 

(1.) That he was instructed by a vision no longer 
to keep up the distinctions which were made by the 
ceremonial law ; he relates the vision, {v. 5, 6. ) as 
we had it before, ch. 10. 9, &c. The sheet which 
was there said to be let doivn to the earth, he here 
says, came even to him, which circumstance inti- 
mates that it was particularly designed for instruc- 
tion to him. We should thus see all God's disco- 
veries of himself, which he has made to the children 
of men, coming even to us, applying them by faith 
to ourselves. Another circumstance here added, is, 
that when the sheet came to him, he fastened his 
eyes upon it, and considered it, v. 6. If we would 
be led into the knowledge of divine things, we must 
fix our minds upon them, and consider them. He 
tells them what orders he had to eat of all sorts of 
meat, without distinction, asking no questions for 
conscience-sake, it. 7. It was not till after the flood, 
(as it should seem,) that man was allowed to eat 
flesh at all, Gen. 9. 3. That allowance was after- 
ward limited by the ceremonial law ; but now the 
restrictions were taken off, and the matter set at 
large agani. It was not the design of Christ to 
abridge us in the use of our creature-comforts by any 
other law than that of sobriety and temperance, and 
preferring the meat that endures to eternal life be- 
fore that which perishes. 

He pleads, that he was as averse to the thoughts 
of conversing with Gentiles, or eating of their dain- 
ties, as they could be, and therefore refused the 
liberty given him ; A''ot so, Lord ; for nothing com- 
mon or unclean has at any time entered into my 
?nouth, V. 8. But he was told from heaven, that 
the cas^ was now altered ; that God had cleansed 
those persons and things which were before polluted; 
and therefore that he must no longer call them co7n- 
mon, nor look upon them as unfit to be meddled 
with by the peculiar people : {v. 9.) so that he was 
not to be blamed for changing his thoughts, when 
God had changed the thing. In things of this na- 
tvire, we must act according to our present light ; 
yet must not be so wedded to our opinion conceming 
them, as to be prejudiced against further discoveries, 
when the matter may cither be otherwise, or appear 
otherwise ; and God may reveal even this unto ns, 
Phil. 3. 15. 

And that they might be sure he was not deceived 
in it, he tells them, it was done three times ; (t. 10.) 
the same command given, to kill and eat, and the 
same reason, because that which God hath cleansed 
is not to be called commo7t, repeated a second and 



third time. And further to confirm him that it was 
a divine vision, the things he saw did not vanish 
away into the aii-, but were drawn u/i again into 
heaven, whence they were let down. 

(2.) That he was particularly directed bv the 
Spirit to go along with the messengers that Corne- 
lius sent. And that it might appear that that vision 
was designed to satisfy him in that matter, he ob- 
serves to them the time when the messengers came 
— immediately after he had that vision ; yet lest 
that should not be sufficient to clear his way, the 
Spirit bid him go with the men that were then sent 
from Cesareato him, nothirig doubting ; {v. 11, 12.) 
though they were Gentiles he went to, and Avent 
with, yet he must make no scruple of going along 
with them. 

(3. ) That he took some of his brethren along with 
him, who were of the circumcision, that they might 
be satisfied as well as he ; and these he had brought 
up from Joppa, to witness for him with what cau- 
tion he proceeded, foreseeing the offence that would 
be taken at it. He did not act sepai-ately, but wath 
advice ; not rashly, but upon due deliberation. 

(4.) That Cornelius had a vision too, by which he 
was directed to send for Peter ; {v. 13.) He shewed 
us how he had seen an angel in his house, that bade 
him send to Joppa for one Sirnon, whose surname 
is Peter. See how good it is for those that have 
communion with God, and keej) up a correspon- 
dence with heaven, to compare notes, and commu- 
nicate their experiences to each other ; for hereby 
they may strengthen one another's faith : Peter is 
the more confirmed in the tinith of his vision by Cor- 
nelius's, and Cornelius by Peter's. Here is some- 
thing added in what the angel said to Cornelius ; be- 
fore it was, Send for Peter, and he shall speak to 
thee, he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do ; 
{ch. 10. 6, 32.) but here it is, " J% shall tell thee 
words whereby thou and thy house shall be saved, 
{v. 14.) and therefore it is of vast concern to thee, 
and will be of unspeakable advantage, to i-end for 
him." Note, [1.] The words of the gospel are 
words whereby we may be saved, eternally saved ; 
not merely by hearing them and reading them, but 
by believing and obeying them. They set the sal- 
vation before us, and shew us what it is ; they open 
the way of salvation to us, and if we follow the me- 
thod prescribed us by them, we shall certainly be 
saved from wrath and the curse, and be for ever 
happy. [2.] They that embrace the gospel of 
Christ, will have salvation brought by it to their fa- 
milies : " 77/0?/ and all thy house shall be saved; 
thou and thy children shall be taken into covenant, 
and have the means of salvation ; thy house shall be 
as welcome to the benefit of the salvation, upon their 
believing, as thou thyself, even the meanest servant 
thou hast. This day is salvation come to this house," 
Luke 19.9. Hitherto salvation was of the Jews, 
rjohn 4. 22.) but now salvation is brought to the 
Gentiles as much as ever it was with the Jews ; th-" 
promises, privileges, and means of it are con\Tyeo. 
to all nations as am])ly and fully to all intents and 
purposes, as ever it had been appropriated to the 
Jewish nation. 

(5.) That which put the matter past all dispute, 
was, the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Gentile 
hearers ; this completed the evidence, that it was 
the will of God that he should take the Gentiles into 
communion. 

[1.] The fact was plain and undeniable ; {v. 15.) 
" yls I began to s/irak," (and jxM'haps he felt some 
secret reiuctanry in his own lireast, doubting whe- 
ther he was in the ric,ht to preach to the unrircum- 
cised,) "presently the Holy Ghost fell on them in as 
visible signs as on us at the beginning, in which 
there could be no fallacy." Thus God attested 
what was done, ai^d declared his approbation of it 



THE ACTS, XL 



113 



that preaching is certninly right, with which the 
Holy Ghost is given. The apostle supposes that, 
when he thus argues with the Galatians, Recerved 
ye the SfiirH by the works of the law, or by thehear- 
'ing of faith? Gal. 3. 2. 

[2.1 Peter was hereby put in mind of a saying of 
his Master's, when he was leaving them ; {ch. 1. 5.) 
John bafitized with water; but ye shall be ba/itized 
with the Holy Ghost, v. 16. This plainly intimated, 
First, That the Holy Ghost was the gift of Christ, 
and the Pi-oduct and Performance of his promise, 
that great promise which he left with them when he 
went to heaven. It was therefore without doubt 
from him that this gift came ; and the filling of them 
with the Holy Ghost was his act and deed. As it 
was promised by his mouth, so it was performed by 
his hand, and was a token of his favour. Secondly, 
That the gift of the Holy Ghost was a kind of bap- 
tism. Tiiey that received it were baptized with it 
in a more excellent manner, than any of those that 
even the Baptist himself baptized with water. 

[,".] Comparing that promise, so worded, with 
this gift just now conferred, when the question was 
started, whether these persons should be baptized 
or no, he concluded, that the question was deter- 
mined by Christ himself; (it-. 17.) "Forasmuch 
then as God gave them the like gift as he did to us ; 
gave it to us as believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, 
and to them upon their believing in him, What was, 
I, that I could withstand God? Could I refuse to 
baptize them with water, whom God had baptized 
with the Holy Ghost ? Could I deny the sign to 
those on whom he had conferred the thing signified? 
But as for me, who was I? \W\2A, able to forbid 
God ? r)id it become me to control the divine will, 
or to oppose the counsels of Heaven ?" Kote, Those 
who hinder the conversion of souls, withstand God ; 
and those take too much upon them, who contrive 
how to exclude those from their communion, whom 
God has taken into communion with himself. 

IV. This account which Peter gave of the matter 
satisfied tl\em ; and all was well. Thus when the 
two tribes and a half gave an account to Phinehas 
and the princes of Israel of the ti-ue intent and mean- 
ing of their building them an altar on the banks of 
Jordan, the controversy was dropped, and it pleased 
them that it was so, josh. 22. 30. Some people, 
when they have fastened a censure upon a person, 
will stick to it, though afterward it appear ever so 
plainly to be unjust and groundless. It was not so 
here ; for these brethren, though they were of the 
circumcision, and their bias went the other way, yet, 
when they heard this, 

1. They let fall their censures : they held their 
peac . and said no more against what Peter had 
done ; they laid their hand upon their mouth, be- 
cause now they perceived tliat God did it. Now 
they who prided themselves in their dignities as 
Jews, began to see that God was staining that pride, 
by letting in the Gentiles to share, and to share 
alike, with them. .\nd now that prophecy is ful- 
filled. Thou shalt no more be haughty because of my 
holy mountain, Zeph. 3. 11. 

2. They turned them into praises ; they not only 
held their peace from quarrelling with Peter, but 
opened their mouths to glorify (iod for what he had 
done by and with Peter's ministry ; they were 
thankful that their mistake was rectified, and that 
God had shewed more mercy to the poor Gentiles 
than they were inclined to shew them, saying. Then 
hath God also to the Gaitiles granted reftentance 
unto life 1 He hath granted them not only the means 
of repentance, in opening a door of entrance for his 
ministers among them, l)ut the gi'ace of repentance, 
in having given them his Holy Spirit, who, wherever 
he comes to be a Comforter, first convinces, and 
gives a sight of sin, and sorrow for it ; and then a 

Vol. VI.— P 



sight of Christ, and joy in him. Note, (1.) Repen- 
tance, if it be true, is unto life ; it is to spiritual life ; 
all that ti-uly repent of their sins, evidence it by 
living a new life, a holy, heavenly, and divine life. 
Those that by repentance die unto sin, from thence- 
forward live unto God ; and then, and net till then, 
we begin to live indeed ; and it shrdl be to eternal 
life. AH true penitents shall live, that is, they shall 
be restored to the favour il God, wliich is life, 
which is better than life ; tliey shall be comforted 
with the assurance of the paidon of their sins, and 
shall have the eaniest of eternal life ; and at length 
the fruition of it. (2.) Repentance is (iod's gift ; it 
is not only his free grace that accejHs it, but his 
mighty grace that works it in us ; that takes away 
the heart of stone, and grx'es us a heart ofjiesh. The 
sacrifice of God is a broken s/iirit ; it is he that pix)- 
vides himself that lamb. (3. ) Wherever God de- 
signs to give life, he gives repentance ; for that is a 
necessary preparative for the comforts of a sealed 
pardon and a settled peace in this world, and for the 
seeing and enjoying of God in the other world. (4. ) 
It is a great comfort to us, that God hath exalted 
his Son Jesus, not only to give re/ientance to Israel, 
a?id the re?nission of sins, {ch. 5. 31.) but to the Gen- 
tiles also. 

19. Now they which were scattered 
abroad upon the persecution that arose 
about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, 
and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the 
w^ord to none but unto the Jews only. 20. 
And some of then) were men of Cyprus and 
Cyrene, which, when they were come to 
Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaih- 
ing the LordJesus. 21. And the hand of 
the Lord was with them : and a great 
number believed, and turned unto the Lord. 
22. Then tidings of these things came unto 
the ears of the church which was in Jeru- 
salem : and they sent forth Barnabas, that 
he should go as far as Antioch. 23. \\ ho, 
when he came, and had seen the grace of 
God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that 
with purpose of heart ihey would cleave 
unto the Lord. 24. For he was a good 
man, and full of the Holy Ghost, and of 
faith : and much people was added imto 
the Lord. 25. Then departed Barnabas to 
Tarsus, for to seek Saul : 2G. And when he 
had found him, he brought him unto An- 
tioch. And it came to pass, that a whole 
year they assembled themselves with the 
church, and taught much people. And the 
disciples were called Christians first in An- 
tioch. 

We have here an account of the planting and 
watering of a church at Antioch, the chief city of 
Syria, reckoned afterward the third most consider- 
able city of the empire, only Rome and Alexandria 
being preferred before it ; next to whose patriarch 
that of Antioch took place. It stood where Hamath 
or Riblah did, which we read of in the Old Testa- 
ment. It is sugsrested that Luke, the penman of 
this history, and Theophilus, to whom he dedicates 
it, were of Antioch ; which might be the reason why 
he takes more particular notice of the success of the 
gospel at Antioch ; as also because there it was that 



14 



THE ACTS, XI. 



Paul began to be famous, toward the story of whom 
he is hastening. 
Now conceming the church at Antioch, observe, 
I. The first preachers of the gospel there, were 
such as were dispersed from Jerusalem by persecu- 
tion, that persecution which arose five or six years 
ago, (as some compute,) at the time of Stephen's 
death; (x-. 19.) They travelled as far as Ffienice 
and other places, fireaching the word. Therefore 
(iod suffered them to be persecuted, that thereby 
they might be dispersed in the world, sown as seed 
to God, in order to their bringing forth much fruit. 
Thus what was intended for tlie hurt of the church, 
was made to work for its good ; as Jacob's curse of 
the tribe of Levi, fl will dh'ide them in Jacob, and 
scatter them in Israel, J was turned into a blessing. 
The enemies designed to scatter and lose them, 
Christ designed to scatter and use them. Thus the 
wrath of man is made to praise God. Observe, 

1. Those that fled from persecution, did not flee 
fi'om their work ; though for the time they declined 
suffering, vet they did not decline service ; nay, they 
threw themselves into a larger field of opportunity 
than before. Those that persecuted the preachers 
of the gospel, hoped thereby to prevent their carry- 
ing it to the Gentile world ; but it proved that they 
did but hasten it the sooner. Hoiubeit, they meant 
not so, neither did their heart think- so. They that 
were persecuted in one city, fled to another ; but 
they carried their religion along with them, not only 
that they might take the comfort of it themselves, 
but that they might communicate it to others ; thus 
shewing that when they got out of the way, it was 
not because they were afraid of suffering, but be- 
cause they were willing to reserve themselves for 
further service. 

2. They pressed forward in their work, finding 
that the. g'ood /ileasure of the Lord firosfiered in their 
hands. When they had preached successfully in 
Judea, Samaria, and Galilee, they got out of the 
borders of tlie land of Canaan, and travelled into 
Phenicia, into the island of Cyprus, and into Syria. 
Though the further they travelled, the more they 
exposed themselves, yet they travelled on ; filus 
ultra, was their motto, further still ; grudging no 
pains, and dreading no perils, in carrying on so good 
a work, and serving so good a Master. 

3. They fireached the word to none but the Jews 
only, who were dispersed in all those parts, and had 
synagogues of their own, in which they met with 
them by themselves, and preached to them. They 
did not yet understand that the Gentiles were to be 
fellow-heirs, and of the same body ; but left the 
Gentiles either to tuni Jews, and so come into the 
church, or else remain as they were. 

4. They particularly applied themselves to the 
Hellenist' Jews, here called the Grecians, that were 
at Antioch. Many of the preachers were natives 
of Judea and Jerusalem ; some of them were by 
Inrth of Cyprus and Cyrene, as Barnabas himself, 
{ch. 4. 36.) and Simon, (Mark 15. 21.) but they had 
had their education in Jerusalem ; and these being 
themselves Grecian Jews, had a particular concern 
for those of their own denomination and distinction, 
and applied themselves closely to them at Antioch. 
Dr. Lightfoot says that they were there called Hel- 
Iniists, or Grecians, because they were Jews of the 
cor]:)oration or enfranchisement of the city ; for An- 
tioch was a Syrogrecian city. To them they 
fireached the Lord Jesus. That was the constant 
subject of their preaching ; what else should the 
ministers of Christ preach, Iiut Christ, Christ and 
him crucified ; Christ, and him glorified ? 

5. They had wonderful success in their preach- 
ing, V. 21. 

(1.) Tlieir preaching was accompanied with a di- 
vine power ; The hayid of the Lord was with them ; 



which i-ome understand of the power they were en 
dued with to woi'k miracles for the confirming ol 
their doctrine ; in those the Lord was working with 
them, he confirmed the word with signs following ; 
(Mark 16. 20.) in these (iod bare them witness, Heb. 
2. 4. But I rather understand it of the power of di 
vine grace working on the hearts of the hearers, 
and opening them, as Lydia's heart was opened, be- 
cause many saw the miracles, who were not con- 
verted ; but when by the Spirit the understanding 
was enlightened, and the will bowed to the gospel 
of Christ, that was a day of power, in which volun- 
teers were enlisted under the banner of the Lord 
Jesus, Ps. 110. 3. The hand of the Lord was with 
them, to bring that home to the hearts and con- 
sciences of men, which they could but speak to the 
outward ear. Then the word of the Lord gains its 
end, when the hand of the Lord goes along with it, 
to write it in their heart. Then peo] !t are brought 
to believe the report of the ;-;".-pel, when with it 
the arm of the Lord is rexualcd, (Isa. 53. 1.) when 
God teaches with a strong hand, Isa. 8. 11. These 
were not aposiles, but ordinary ministers, yet they 
had the hand of the Lord with them, and (li<l won- 
ders. 

(2. ) Abundance of good was done ; A great num 
ber believed, and turned unto the Lord ; many more 
than could have been expected, considering the out- 
ward disadvantages they laboured under : some of 
all sorts of people were wrouglit upon, and brought 
into obedience to Christ. Observe, What the change 
was. [1.] They believed ; they were convinced of 
the truth of the gospel, and subscribed to the record 
God had given in it conceming his Son. [2.] The 
effect and evidence of this was, that they turned 
unto the Lord ; they could not -be said to turn from 
the service of idols, for they were Jews, worship- 
pers of the true God only ; but they turned from a 
confidence in the righteousness of the law, to rely 
only upon the righteousness of Christ ; the righteous- 
ness which is by faith : they turned from a loose, care- 
less, carnal way of living, to live a holy, heavenly, 
spiritual, and divine life ; they turned from worship- 
ping God in shew and ceremony, to worship him in 
the spirit, and in truth. They turned to the Lord 
Jesus, and he became all in all Avith them. This 
was the work of conversion wrought upon them, 
and it must be wrought upon every one of us. It 
was the fruit of their faith ; all that sincerely be- 
lieve, will turn to the Lord ; for whatever we pro- 
fess or pretend, we do not really believe the gospel, 
if we do not cordially embrace Christ offered to us 
in the gospel. 

n. The good work thus begun at Antioch, was 
carried on to a great perfection ; and this church, 
thus founded, grew to be a flourishing one, by the 
ministry of Barnabas and Saul ; who built upon the 
foundation which the other preachers had laid, and 
entered into their labours, John 4. 37, 38. 

1. The church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas thither, 
to nurse this new-bom church, and to strengthen the 
hands both of preachers and people, and put a re- 
putation upon the cause of Christ there. 

(1.) They heard the good news, that the gospel 
was received at Antioch, v. 22. The apostles there 
were inquisitive how the work went on in the coun- 
tries about ; and, it is likely, kept up a correspon- 
dence with all parts where preachers were, so that 
tidings of these things, of thp gj-cat numbci-s that 
were converted at Antioch, soon cajne to the ears of 
the church that was m Jerusalem. Those that are 
in the most eminent stations in the church, ought to 
concern themselves for those in a lower sphere. 

(2.) They dispatched Barnabas to them with all 
speed ; they desired him to go, and assist and en- 
courage these ho])eful be;j,innings. They sent him 
forth as an envoy from them, and a representative 



THE ACTS, XL 



115 



of their whole body, to congratulate them upon the 
success of the gospel among them, as matter of re- 
joicing both to preachers and hearers, and with both 
they rejoiced. He must go as far as Antioch. It 
was a great way, but, far as it was, he was willing 
to undertake the journey for a public service. It is 
probable that Barnabas had a particular genius for 
work of this kind, was active and conversable, and 
loved to be in motion, delighted in doing good abroad 
as much as others in doing good at home, was as 
■ much of Zebulun's spirit, who rejoiced in his going 
out, as others are of Issachar's, who rejoiced in his 
tent ; and his talent lying this way, he was fittest to 
be employed in this work. God gives various gifts 
for various services. 

(3. ) Barnabas was wonderfully pleased to find that 
the gospel got ground, and that some of his country- 
men, men of Cyprus, (of which country he was, ch. 
4. 36. ) were instrumental in it ; (t>. 23. ) IMien he 
came, and had seen the grace of God, the tokens of 
God's, good- will to the people of Antioch, and the 
evidences of his good work among them, he nvasglad. 
He took time to make his observations, and both in 
their public worship, in their common conversations, 
and in their families, he saw the grace of God among 
them ; where the grace of God is, it will be seen, as 
the tree is k7ioivn by its fruits: and where it is seen, 
it ought to be owned ; what we see which is good 
in any, we must call God's grace in them, and give 
that grace the glory of it ; and we ought ourselves 
to take the comfort of it, and make it the matter of 
our rejoicing. We must be glad to see the grace of 
God in others, and the more when we see it there 
where we did not expect it. 

(4. ) He did what he could to fix them ; to confirm 
them in the faith, who were converted to the faith. 
He exhorted them — 'ora.ftKaKu. It is thfe same word 
with that by which the name of Barnabas is inter- 
preted, {ch. 4. 36.) wof ^a/jstKX»'<r£(»c — a son of exhor- 
tation ; his talent lay that way, and he traded with 
it ; let him that exhorteth, attend to exhortation, 
Rom. 12. 8. Or, being a son of consolation, (for so 
we render the word,) he comforted, or encouraged 
them with fiur/iose of heart to cleave to the Lord. 
The more he rejoiced in the beginning of the good 
work among them, the more earnest he was with 
them to proceed according to these good beginnings. 
Those we have comfort in we should exhort. Bar- 
nabas was glad for what he saw of the grace of God 
among them, and therefore was the more earnest 
with them to persevere. [1. ] To cleave to the Lord. 
Note, Those that have turned to the Lord, are con- 
cerned to cleave unto the Lord, not to fall off from 
following him, not to flag and tire in following him. 
To cleave to the Lord Jesus, is to live a life of de- 
pendence upon him, and devotedness to him ; not 
only to hold him fast, but to hold fast by him, to be 
strong in the Lord, and in the fioiver of his might. 
[2. ] To cleave to him with purpose of heart, with an 
intelligent, firm, and deliberate resolution, founded 
upon good grounds, and fixed upon that foundation, 
Ps. 108. 1. It is to bind our souls with a bond to be 
the Lord's, and to say as Ruth, Entreat me not to 
leave him, or to return from following after him. 

(5. ) Herein he gave a proof of his good character ; 
{v. 24.) He was a good man, and full of the Holy 
Ghost, and of faith, and approved himself so upon 
this occasion. [1.] He shewed himself to be a man 
of a very sweet, affable, courteous disposition, that 
had himself, and could teach others, the art of 
obliging. He was not only a righteous man, but a 
j^ood man, a good-tempered man. Ministers that 
are so, recommend themselves and their doctrine 
very much to the good opinion of those that are 
without. He was a good man, that is, a charitable 
man ; so he had approved himself, when he sold an 
estate, and e^ve the money to the poor, ch. 4. 37. 



[2.1 By this it appeared that he was richly endued 
with the gifts and graces of the Spirit. The good- 
ness of his natural disposition would not have quali- 
fied him for this serxice, if he had not been full cf 
the Holy Ghost, ajid f,o full of /wwer, by the S/iirif 
of the Lord. [3.] He was full of faith, full of the 
christian faith himself, and therefore desirous to 
propagate it among others ; full of the grace ft 
faith, and fiiU of the fruits of that faith that woiks 
by lo\ e. He was sound in the faith, and therefore 
pressed them to be so. 

(6.) He was instrumental to do good, by bringing 
in those that were without, as well as by building uj) 
those that were within ; much peofde were added to 
the Lord, and thereby added to x\\e church, manu 
were turned to the Lord before, yet more are to be 
turned ; it is done as ihou hast cdnunanded, and vet 
there is room. 

2. Barnabas went to fetch Saul, to join with him 
in the work of the gospel at Antioch. The last 
news we heard of him, was, that when his life was 
sought at Jerusalem, he was sent away to Tarsus, 
the city where he was bom, and, it should seenv, he 
continued there ever since, doing good, no doubt. 
But now Barnabas takes a journey on purpose to 
Tarsus, to see what was become of him, to tell l\im 
what a door of opportunity was opened at Antioch, 
and to desire him to come and spend some time with 
him there, v. 25, 26. And here also it appears, 
that Barnabas was a good sort of a mgn, in two 
things : 

(1.) That he would take so much pains to bring 
an active useful man out of obscurity ; it was he that 
introduced Saul to the disciples at Jerusalem, when 
they were shy of him ; and it was he that brought 
him out of the corner into which he was driven, 
into a more public station. It is a veiy good work to 
fetch a candle from under a bushel, and to set it in 
a candlestick. 

(2. ) That he would bring in Saul at Antioch, who, 
being a chief sfieaker, {ch. 14. 12.) and, probably, a 
more fiofiular preacher, would be likely to eclipse 
him there, by outshining him ; but Barnabas is very 
willing to be so when it is for the public service. If 
God by his grace enables us to do what good we can, 
according to the ability we have, we ought to rejoice 
if others that have also larger capacities, have larger 
opportunities, and do more good than we can do. 
Barnabas brought Saul to Antioch, though it might 
be the lessening of himself, to teach us to seek the 
things of Christ more than our own things. 
Now here we are further told, 
[1.] What service was now done to the church 
at Antioch. Paul and Barnabas continued there a 
whole year, presiding in their religious assemblies, 
and preaching the g'^spel, v. 26. Obsen^e, /»*•/■, 
The church frequently assembled. The religious 
assemblies of christians a?-e appointed by Christ for 
his honour, and the comfort and benefit of his disci- 
ples. God's people of old frequently came together, 
at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation ; 
places of meeting are now multiplied, but they must 
come together, though it be with difficultv and peril. 
Secondly, Ministers were the masters of those as- 
semblies, and held those courts in Christ's name, to 
which all that hold by, fro7n, and under, him, owe 
suit and service. Thirdly, Teaching the fieofxle is 
one part of the woi-^ of ministei-s, when they ])re- 
side in religious assemblies. They are not only tf) 
be the people's mouth to God in pi-ayer and praise, 
but God's mouth to the ]:)eople in opening the scrip- 
tures, and teaching out of them the good knowledge 
of the Lord. Fourthly, It is a great encouragement 
to ministers, when they ha\'e opportunity of teaching 
much ])eople, of casting the net of the gospel where 
there is a large shoal of fish, in hopes that the moTx- 
may be inclosed. Fifthly, Preaching is not only for 



116 



THE ACTS, XL 



the conviction and conversion of those that are with- 
out, but for the instruction and edification of those 
that are within. A constituted church must have its 
teachers. 

[2.] What honour was now put upon the church 
at jlntioch; There the discifiles ivere first called 
1'hristians ; it is probable that tliey called them- 
selves so, incorporated themselves by that title, 
whether by some solemn act of the church or mi- 
nisters, or whether this name insensibly obtained 
there by its being frequently used in their praying 
and preaching, we are not told ; but it should seem 
that two such great men as Paul and Barnabas con- 
tinuing there so long, being exceedingly followed, 
and meeting with no opposition, christian assemblies 
made a greater figure there than any where, and be- 
came more considerable, which was the reason of 
their being called Christians first there ; which, if 
there were to be a mother-church to inile over all 
other churches, would give Antioch a better title to 
the honour than Rome can pretend to. Hitherto 
they who gave up their names to Christ, were 
called disciples, learners, scholars, trained up under 
him, in order to their being employed bv him ; but 
from henceforward they were called Christians. 
First, Thus the reproachful names which their ene- 
mies had hitherto branded them with, would, per- 
haps, be wiped away, and disused. They called 
them J^azarenes, {ch. 24. 5.) the men of that way, 
that by-way, which had no name ; and thus they 
prejudiced people against them ; to remove which 
prejudices they gave themselves a name, which 
their enemies could not but say was proper. Se- 
condly, Thus they, who before their conversion had 
been distinguished by the names o{ Jews and Gen- 
tiles, might after their conversion be called by one 
and the same name ; which would help them to for- 
get their former dividing names, and prevent their 
bringing their former marks of distinction, and with 
them the seeds of contention, into the church. Let 
not one say, " I was a Jew ;" nor the other, " I was 
a Gentile ;" when both the one and the other must 
now say, " I am a Christian." Thirdly, Thus they 
studied to do honour to their Master, and shewed 
that they were not ashamed to own their relation to 
him, but gloried in it ; as the scholars of Plato called 
themselves Platonists, and so the scholars of other 
great men. They took, their denomination not from 
the name of his person, Jesus, but of his office, Christ 
— Anointed ; so putting their creed into their name, 
that Jesus is the Christ ; and they are willing all the 
world should know that this is the truth they will 
live and die by. Their enemies will turn this name 
to their reproach, and impute it to them as their 
crime, but they will glory in it ; If this be to be vile, 
F will yet be more vile. Fourthly, Thus they now 
owned their dependance upon Christ, and their re- 
ceivings from him ; not only that they believed in 
him who is the Jnointed, but that through him they 
themselves had the anointing, 1 John 2. 20, 27. And 
Cod is^ said to have anointed us in Christ, 2 Cor. 1. 
21. Fifthly, Thus they laid upon themselves, and 
all that should ever profess that name, a strong 
and lasting obligation to submit to the laws of Christ, 
to follow the example of Christ, and to devote them- 
selves entirely to the honour of Christ ; to be to him 
for a name, and a praise. Are we christians? 
Then we ouglit to think, and speak, and act, in 
every thing as becomes christians, and to do nothing 
to the reproach of that worthv name by which we 
are called ; that that mav not be said to us, which 
Alexander said to a soldier of his own name that 
was noted for a coward, Jutnomen, au( mores mufa 
— Either change thy name, or mend thy manners. 
.'Vnd as we must look upon ourselves as christians, 
and carry ourselves accordingly, so we must look 
upon others as christians, and carry ourselves to- 



ward them accordingly. A christian, though not in 
every thing of our mind, should be loved and re- 
spected for his sake whose name he bears, because he 
belongs to Christ. Sixthly, Thus the scripture was 
fulfilled, for so it was written (Isa. 62. 2.) concern- 
mgthe gospel-church. Thou shalt be called by a 7iew 
name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. 
And (Isa. 65. 15.) it is said to the corrupt and dege- 
nerate church of the Jews, The Lord God shall slay 
thee, and call his servants by another name. 

27. And in these days came prophets 
from Jerusalem unto Antioch. 28. And 
there stood up one of them named Aga- 
bus, and signified by the Spirit, that there 
should be great dearth throughout all thr 
world : which came to pass in the days of 
Claudius Caesar. 29. Then the disciples, 
every man according to his ability, deter- 
mined to send relief unto the lirethren 
which dwelt in Judea : 30. \^'hich also 
they did, and sent it to the elders by the 
hands of Barnabas and Saul. 

When our Lord Jesus ascended on high, he gave 
gifts unto men, not only apostles and evangelists, 
but prophets, who were enabled by the Spirit to fore- 
see and foretell things to come ; which not only 
served for a confirmation of the truth of Christianity, 
(for all that these prophets foretold came to pass ; 
which proved that they were sent of God, Deut. 18. 
22. Jer. 28. 9.) but was also of great use to the 
church, and served very much for its conduct. Kow 
here we have, 

I. A visit which some of these proj^hets made to 
Antioch ; (v. 27.) Li these days, during that year 
that Baniabas and Saul lived at Antioch, there came 
prophets from Jerusalem to Antioch; we are not 
told how many, nor is it certain whether these w ere 
any of those prophets that we afterward find in the 
church at Antioch, ch. 13. 1. 

1. They came from Jerusalem, probably because 
they were not now so much regarded there as they 
had been ; they saw their work in a mannei done 
there, and therefore thought it time to be gone. 
Jerusalem had been infamous for killing the prophets 
and abusing them, and therefore is now justly de- 
prived of these prophets. 

2. They came to Antioch, because they heard of 
the flourishing state of that church, and there they 
hoped they might I)e of some service. Thus should 
every one, as he hath received the gift, minister the 
same. Barnabas came to exhort them, and the\', 
having received the exhortation well, now have pro- 
phets sent them to shew them things to come, as 
Christ had promised, John 16. 13. They that are 
faithful in their little, shall be intrusted with more. 
The best understanding of scripture-predictions is 
to be got in the way of obedience to scripture-in- 
structions. 

II. A i)articular ])rediction of a famine approach- 
ing, delivered by one of these prophets, his name 
Agabus ; we read of him again, prophesying Paul's 
imprisonment, ch. 21. 10. Here he stood up, pro- 
bably in one of their public assemblies, and prophe- 
sied, V. 28. Observe, 

1. Whence he had his prophecy. What he said 
was not of himself, nor a fancy of Ids own, nor an as- 
tronomical prediction, or a conjecture upon the ])re- 
sent workings of second causes, but he signified it by 
the Spirit, the Spirit of prophecy, that there should 
be a famine ; as Joseph, by the Spirit enabling 
him, understood I'haraoh's dreams, foretold the 
famine in Egypt, and Klijah the famine in Israel in 



THE ACTS, XII. 



117 



Ahab's time. Thus God revealed his secrets to his 
servants the prophets. 

2. What the prophecy was ; There should be great 
dearth throughout all the world, by unseasonable 
weather, that corn should be scarce and dear, so 
that many of the poor should perish for want of 
bread. This should be not in one particular coun- 
try, but through all the nvorld, all the Roman em- 
pire, which they in their pride, like Alexander be- 
fore them, callecl the world. Christ had foretold in 
general, that there should be famines, (Matt. 24. 7. 
Mark 13. 8. Luke 21. 11.) but Agabus foretels one 
very remarkable famine now at hand. 

3. The accomplishment of it ; It came to fiass in 
the days of Claudius Cesar; it began in the second 
year of his reign, and continued to the fourth, if not 
longer ; several of the Roman historians make men- 
tion of it, as does also Josephus. God sent them the 
bread of Ufe, and they rejected it, loathed the plenty 
of that manna ; and therefore God justly broke the 
staff of bread, and punished them with famine ; and 
herein he was righteous. They were barren, and 
did not bring forth to God, and thei'efore God made 
the earth barren to them. 

III. The good use they made of this prediction. 
When they were told of a famine at hand, they did 
not do as the Egyptians, hoard up corn for them- 
selves ; but, as became christians, laid by for charity 
to relieve others, which is the best prepanilive for 
our own sufferings and want. It is promised to those 
that consider the floor, that God will preserve them, 
and kee/i them alive, and they shall be blessed upon 
the earth, Ps. 41. 1, 2. And those who shew mercy, 
and give to the poor, shall not be ashamed in the einl 
time, but in the days of famine they shall be satisfied, 
Ps. 37. 19,21. The "best pi'ovision we tan lav up 
against a dear time, is to lay up an interest in those 
promises, by doing good, and communicating, Luke 
12. 33. Many give it for a reason why they should 
be sparing, but the scripture gives it as a reason why 
we should be liberal, to seven, and also to eight, be- 
cause we know not what evil shall be upon the earth, 
Eccl. 11.2. Observe, 

1. What they determined ; that every ma?i, ac- 
cording to his abilifi/, should send relief to the bre- 
thren that dwelt in Judea, v. 29. (1.) The persons 
that were recommended to them as objects of cha- 
rity, were, the brethren that dwelt in Judea. Though 
we must, as we have opportunity, do good to all men, 
yet we must have a special regard to the household 
of faith. Gal. 6. 10. No poor must be neglected, but God's 
poor must be most particularly regarded. The care 
which every particular church ought to take of their 
own poor, we were taught by the early instance of 
that m the church at Jerusalem, where the minis- 
tration was so constant, that none lacked, ch. 4. 34. 
But the communion of saints, in that instance, is 
here extended farther, and provision is made by the 
church at Antioch for the relief of the poor in Ju- 
dea, whom they call t\\c\Y brethren. It seems it was 
the custom of 'the Jews of the dispersion, to send 
money to those Jews which dwelt in Judea, for the 
relief of the poor that were among them, and to 
make collections for that purpose. Tully speaks of 
such a thing in his time ( Orat. pro Flacco) which 
supposes there were many poor in Judea, more than 
in other countries, so that the rich among them were 
not able to bear the charge of keeping them from 
irtarving ; either, because their land was giY)wn bar- 
ren, though it had been a fruitful land, for the in- 
iquity of them that dwelt therein, or because they had 
no trafhc with other nations. Now we mav stippose 
that the greatest part of those who turned christians 
in that country, toere the poor (Matt. 11. 5. The 
poor are evangelized) and also that when the poor 
turned christians, thev were ]nit out of the poor's 
book, and cut off from thf'ir shares in the public 



charity ; and it were easy to foresee that if there 
came a famine, it would go very hard with them ; 
and if any of them should perish for want, it would 
be a great reproach to the christian profession ; ard 
therefore this early care was taken, upon notice of 
this famine coming, to send them a stock beforehand, 
lest, if it should be deferred till the famine came, it 
should be too late. (2.) The agreement that was 
among the disciples about it ; that every man should 
contribute, according to his ability, to this good work. 
The Jews abroad, in other countries, grew rich by 
trade, and many of the rich Jews became christians, 
whose abundance ought to be a supply to the want 
of their poor brethren that were at a great distance; 
for the case of such ought to be considered, and not 
only theirs that live among us. Charitable people 
are traders with what God has given them, and the 
merchants find their account in sending effects to 
countries that lie very remote ; and so should we in 
giving alms to those afar off, that need them, which 
therefore we should be forward to do when we are 
called to it. Every man determined to send some- 
thing, more or less, according to his ability, what he 
could spare from the support of himself and his fa- 
mily, and according as God had prospered him. 
Wliat may be said to be according to our ability we 
must judge for oui^selves, but must be careful that 
we Judge righteous judgment. 

2. W'hat they did ; they did as they determined ; 
{v. 30. ) IVhich 'also they did. They not only talked 
of it, but they did it. Many a good motion of that 
kind is made and commended, but is not prosecuted, 
and so comes to nothing. But this was pursued, the 
collection was made, and was so considerable, that 
they thought it worth while to send Barnabas and 
Saul to Jerusalem, to carry it to the elders there, 
though they should want their labours in the mean 
time at Antioch. They sent it, (1.) To the elders, 
the presbyters, the ministers or pastors of the 
churches in Judea, to be by them distributed ac- 
cording to the necessity of the receivers, as it had 
been contributed according to the ability of the 
givers. (2.) It was sent by Barnabas and Saul, 
who perhaps wanted an occasion to go to Jerusa- 
lem, and therefore were willing to take this. Jose- 
phus tells us, that at this time King hates sent his 
charity to the chief men of Jerusalem, for the poor 
of that country ; and Helena, queen of the Adia- 
beni, being now at Jerusalem, and hearing of many 
that died of famine there, and in the country about, 
sent for provisions from Cyprus and Alexandria, and 
distributed them among the people ; so sa\s Dr. 
Lightfoot, who also computes, by the date of Paul's 
rapture, "fourteen vears before he wrote the se- 
cond Epistle to the Corinthians," (2 Cor. 12. 1, 2.) 
that it was in this journey of his to Jerusalem, with 
these alms and offerings, that he had his trance in 
the temple, (which he speaks of, ch. 92. 17.) and in 
that trance was rafit ufi into the third heaven ; and 
then it was that Christ told him he would send him 
from thence unto the Gentiles; which accordnigly 
he did as soon as ever he came back to Antioch. It 
is no disparagement, in an extraordinary case, for 
ministers of the gospel to be messengers of the 
church's charitv ; though, to undertake the con- 
stant care of tliat matter, would ordinarily be too 
great a diversion from more needful work to those 
who have given themselves to prayer, and the mi- 
nistry of the word. 

CHAR XII. 

In thischnpter, wp have the 5tory, I. Of the martvroom oi 
James the apostle, and tlie imprisonment of Peter, by He- 
rod Acrrippa, who now rriirned as king; in Jiidea, y. I . . 4. 
II. The miraculous delivrrniice of Peter ont of prison h_v 
the mini'trv of an anael, in answer to the prnvers of the 
church for him, v. 5. . 19. HI. The ciittiri(.r ofTof Herod 
in the height of his pride bv the stroke of an angel, the mi 



118 



THE ACTS. XII. 



nister of God's justice, (v. 20.. 23.) and this was done 
while Barnabas and Saul were at Jerusalem, upon the er- 
rand that the church of Antioch sent them on, to carry 
their charity ; and therefore in the close we have an account 
of their return to Antioch, v. 24, 25. 

I.IVTOW about that time, Herod the 
1.^ king stretched fortli his hands to 
vex certain of the church. 2. And he 
killed James the brother of John with the 
sword. 3. And because he saw it pleased 
the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter 
also. (Then were the days of unleavened 
bread.) 4. And when he had apprehended 
him, he put him in prison, and delivered 
him to four quaternions of soldiers, to keep 
him ; intending after Easter to bring him 
forth to the people. 

Ever since the conversion of Paul, we have heard 
no more of the agency of the priests in persecuting 
the saints at Jerusalem ; perhaps that wonderful 
change wrought upon him, and the disappointment 
it gave to their design upon the christians at Damas- 
cus, had somewhat mollified them, and brought 
them under the check of Gamaliel's advice — to let 
those men alone, and see what would be the issue ; 
but here the, storm arises from another point ; the 
civil power, not now, as usual, (for aught that ap- 
pears,) stirred up by the ecclesiastics, acts by itself 
m the persecution. But Herod, though originally 
of an Edomite family, yet seems to liave been a pro- 
selyte to the Jewish religion ; for Josephus says, he 
was zealous for the Mosaic rites, a bigot for the ce- 
remonies. He was not only (as Herod Antipas was) 
tetrarch of Galilee, but had also the governm.ent of 
Judea committed to him by Claudius the empe- 
ror, and resided most at Jerusalem, where he was 
at this time. 
Three things we are here told he did : 
I. He stretched forth his hands to vex certain of 
the church, V. 1. His s^re^cAm^ /or/A his hands to 
it, intimates that his hands had been tied up by the 
restraints which perhaps his own conscience held 
him under in this matter ; but now he broke through 
them, and stretched forth his hands deliberately 
and of malice prepense. Herod laid hands ufion 
some of the church to afflict them, so some read it ; 
he employed his officers to seize them, and take 
them into custody, in order to their being prosecuted. 
See how he advances gradually ! 

1. He began with some of the members of the 
church, certain of them that were of less note and 
figure ; plaved first at small game, but afterward 
flew at the afiostles themselves. His spite was at 
the church, and with regard to those he gave trou- 
ble to, it was not upon any other account, but be- 
cause they belonged to the church, and so belonged 
to Christ. 

2. He began ivith vexing them only, or afflicting 
them, imprisoning them, fining them, spoiling their 
houses and goods, and other ways molesting them ; 
but afterward he proceeded to greater instances of 
crueltv. Christ's suffering servants are thus trained 
up by lesser troutilcs for greater, that tribulation may 
^vork patience, and patience experience. 

II. He killed James the brother of John with the 
-tvord, V. 2. We are here to consider, 

1. Who the martyr was ; it was James the bro- 
ther of Johji; so called, to distinguish him from the 
other James, the brother of Joses. This was called 
Jacobus major — .lames the greater ; that, minor — 
the less. This tliat was here crowned with martyr- 
dom, was one of the first three of Christ's disciples, 
■ ne of those that were the witnesses of his transjfigu- 



ration and agony, whereby he was prepared for mar 
ty rdom ; he was one of those whom Christ called Bod- 
nerges — Sonsof thunder ; and perhapsby his power- 
ful awakening preaching he had provoked Herod, or 
those about him, as John Baptist did the other He- 
rod, and that was the occasion of his coming into 
this trouble. He was one of those sons of Zebedee, 
whom Christ told, that they should drink of the cup 
that he was to drink of, and be baptized with the bap- 
tism that he was to be baptized with. Matt. 20. 23. 
And now those words of Chi'ist were made gord in 
him ; but it was in order to his sitting at Christ's 
right hand ; foi-, if we suffer with him, we shall reign 
with him. He was one of the twelve, who were com 
missioned to disciple all nations ; and to take him oflf 
now, before he was removed from Jerusalem, was 
like Cain's killing Abel then when the world w as to 
be peopled ; and one man was then more than many 
at another time. To kill an apostle now, was kill- 
ing he knew not how many. But why would God 
Eermit it ? If the blood of his saints, much more the 
lood of apostles, is precious in his eyes, and there- 
fore, we may be sure, is not shed but upon a valuable 
consideration. Perhaps, God intended hereby to 
awaken the rest of the apostles to disperse them- 
selves among the nations, and not to nestle any lon- 
ger at Jerusalem. Or it was to shew, that though 
the apostles were appointed to plant the gospel in the 
world, yet if they were taken off, God could do his 
work without them, and would do it. This apostle 
died a martyr, to shew the rest of them what they 
must expect, that they might prepare accordingly. 
The tradition that they have in the Romish church, 
that this James had been before this in Spain, and 
had planted the gospel there, is altogether ground- 
less ; nor is there any certainty of it, or good autho- 
rity for it. 

2. What kind of death he suffered ; he was slain 
with the sword, his head was cut off with a sword, 
which was looked upon by the Romans to be a more 
disgraceful way of being beheaded than with an 
axe; so Lorinus. Beheading was not ordinarily 
used among the Jews ; but when kings gave verbal 
orders for private and sudden executions, this man- 
ner of death was used, as most expeditious ; and it 
is probable that this Herod killed James, as the 
other Herod killed John Baptist, privately in the 
prison. It is strange that we have not a more full 
and particular account of the martyrdom of this 
great apostle, as we had of Stephen. But even this 
short mention of the thing is sufficient to let us know, 
that the first preachers of the gospel were so well 
assured of the truth of it, that they sealed it with 
their blood, and thereby have encouraged us, if at 
any time we are called to it, to resist unto blood too. 
The Old Testament martvrs were slain with the 
sword, (Heb. 11. 37.) and Christ came not to send 
peace, but a sword; (Matt. 10. 34.) in preparation 
for which we must arm ourselves with the sword of 
the Spirit, which is the word of God, and then we 
need not fear what the sword of ?nen can do unto us. 

III. He imprisoned Peter, whom he had heard 
most of, as making the greatest figure among the 
apostles, and whom therefore he would be proud of 
the honour of taking off. Observe here, 

1. When he had beheaded James, he proceeded 
further, he added, to take Peter also. Note, Blood 
to the blood-thirsty does but make them more so ; 
and the way of persecution, as of other sins, is down- 
hill ; when men are in it, they cannot easily stop 
themselves ; when they are in, they find they must 
on ; JVlale facta male factis tegere ne perpluant— 
One evil deed is covered with another, so that there 
is no passage through them. They that take one 
bold step in a sinful way, give Satan advantage 
against them to tempt them to take another, and 
provoke God to leave them to themselves, to go 



THE ACTS, XII. 



H9 



Irom bad to worse. It is therefore our wisdom to 
take lieed of the beginnings of sin. 

2. He did this because he saw it /ileased the Jews. 
Observe, The Jews made themsevles guilty of the 
Dlood of James by shewing themselves well pleased 
with it afterward, tliough they had not excited He- 
rod to it. There are accessaries ex post facto — af- 
ter the fact ; and they will be reckoned with as per- 
secutors, who take pleasure in others' persecuting, 
who delight to see good men ill used, and cry. Aha, 

■so would we have it; or at least secretly approve of 
it. For, bloody persecutors, when they perceive 
themselves applauded for that which every one 
ought to cry shame upon them for, are encouraged 
to go on, and have their hands strengthened and 
their hearts hardened, and the checks of their own 
consciences smothered ; nay, it is as strong a temp- 
tation to them to do the like as it was here to He- 
rod, because he saw it pleased the Jews. Though 
he had no reason to fear displeasing them if he did 
not, as Pilate condemned Christ, yet he hoped to 
please them by doing it, and so to make an interest 
among them, and make amends for displeasing them 
in something else. Note, Those make themselves 
an easy prey to Satan, who make it their business 
to please men. 

3. Notice is taken of the time when Herod laid 
hold on Peter ; Theji were the days of unleavened 
bread. It was at the feast of the fiassover, when 
their celebrating the memorial of their typical de- 
liverance should have led them to the acceptance 
of their spiritual deliverance ; instead of that, they, 
under pretence of zeal for the law, were most vio- 
lently fighting against it, and, in the days of unlea- 
vened bread, were most soured and embittered with 
the old leaven of malice and wickedne&s. At the 
passover, when the Jews came from all parts to Je- 
rusalem to keep, the feast, they irritated one another 
against the christians and Christianity, and were 
then more violent than at other times. 

4. Here is an account of Peter's imprisonment ; 
{y. 4.) When he had laid hands on him, and, it is 
likely, examined him, he put hi?n in prison, into the 
inner prison ; some say, into the same prison into 
which he and the other apostles were cast some 
years before, and were then rescued out of it by an 
angel, ch. 5. 18. He was delivered to four quater- 
nions of soldiers, that is, to sixteen, who were to be 
a g-uard upon him, four at a time, that he should not 
make his escape, or be rescued by his friends. 
Thus they thought they had him fast. 

5. Herod's design was, after Easter, to bring'him 
forth unto the people. (1.) He would make a spec- 
tacle of him. Probably, he had put James to death 
privatel)^ ; which the people had complained of, not 
because it was an unjust thing to put a man to death, 
without giving him a public hearing, but because it 
deprived them of the satisfaction of seeing him exe- 
cuted ; and therefore Herod, now that he knows 
their minds, will gratify them with the sight of Pe- 
ter in bonds, of Peter upon the block, that they may 
feed their eyes with such a pleasing spectacle. And 
very ambitious surely he was to please the people, 
who was willing thus to please them! (2.) He 
would do this after Easter, fjitra to trda-^n. — after 
the passover, certainly so it ought to be read, for it 
is the same word that is always so rendered ; and to 
insinuate the introducing of a gospel-feast, instead 
of the passover, when we have nothing in the New 
Testament of such a thing, is to mingle Judaism 
with our Christianity. Herod would not condemn 
him till the passover was over, some think, for fear 
lest he should have such an interest among the peo- 
ple, that they should demand the release of him, 
according to the custom of the feast : or, after the 
hurrj' of the feast was over, and the town was emp- 
ty, he would entertain them with Peter's public 



trial and execution. Thus was the plot laid, and 
both Herod and the people long to have the feast 
over, that they may gratify themselves with this 
barbarous entertainment. 

5. Peter therefore was kept in prison : 
but prayer was made without ceasing of 
the church unto God for him. G. And 
when Herod would have brought liim forth, 
the same night Peter was sleeping between 
two soldiers, bound with two chains : and 
the keepers before the door kept the pri- 
son. 7. And, behold, the angel of the Lord 
came upon him., and a light shined in the 
prison: and he smote Peter oh the side, 
and raised him up, saying, Arise up (juick- 
ly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 
8. And the angel said unto him. Gird thy- 
self, and bind on thy sandals. And so he 
did. And he saith unto him. Cast thy gar- 
ment about thee, and follow me. 9. And 
he went out, and followed him , and wist 
not that it was true which was done by the 
angel; but thought he saw a vision. 10. 
When they were past the first and the se- 
cond ward, they came unto the iron gate 
that leadeth unto the city ; \\\\\c\\ opened 
to them of his own accord : and they went 
out, and passed on through one street ; and 
forthwith the angel departed from him. 
11. And when Peter was come to himself, 
he said. Now 1 know of a surety, that the 
Lord hath sent his angel, and hath deli- 
vered me out of the hand of Herod, and 
from all the expectation of the people of 
the Jews. 1 2. And when he had consider- 
ed the thing, he came to the house of JVJary 
the mother of John, whose surname was 
Mark ; where many were gathered toge- 
ther praying. 1 3. And as Peter knocked 
at the door of the gate, a damsel came to 
hearken, named Khoda. 14. And when 
she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the 
gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how 
Peter stood before the gate. 15. And they 
said unto her. Thou art mad. But she 
constantly affirmed that it was even so. 
Then said they. It is his angel. !(!. But 
Peter continued knocking : and when they 
had opened the door, and saw him, they 
were astonished. 17. But he beckoning 
unto them with the hand to hold their 
peace, declared unto them how the Lord 
had brought him out of the prison. And 
he said. Go shew these things unto James, 
and to the brethren. And he departed, and 
went into another place. 1 S. Now as soon 
as it was day, there was no small stir 
among the soldiers, what was become of 
Peter. 19. And when Herod had sought 
for liim, and found him not, he examinea 



120 



THE ACTS, XIL 



Ihe keepers, and commanded that tkey 
should be put to death. And he went 
down from Judea to Cesarea, and lliere 
abode. 

We have here an account of Peter's deliverance 
out of prison, by which the design of Herod against 
him was defeated, and his life preserved for further 
service, and a stop given to this bloody torrent. 
Now, 

1. One thing that magnified his deliverance, was, 
that it was a signal answer to prayer ; {y. 5.) Peter 
tous ki'/it in firison with a great deal of care, so that 
it was altogether impossible, either by force or by 
stealth, to get him out ; but prayer was made with- 
out ceasi/ig of the church unto God for hiiti ; for 
prayers and tears are the church's arms ; tliere- 
with she fights, not only against her enemies, but 
for her friends : and to those means they have re- 
course. 

1. The delay of Peter's trial gave them time for 
pi'ayer. It is probable that James was hurried off, 
so suddenly, and so privately, that they had not 
time to pray for him ; God so ordering it, that they 
should not have space to pray, when he designed 
they should not have the thing they prayed for. 
James must be offered upon the sacrifice and service 
of their faith, and therefore prayer for him is res- 
trained and prevented ; but Peter must be continued 
to them, and therefore prayer for him is stirred up, 
and time is given them for it, by Herod's putting 
off the jirosecution. Howbeit, he- meant not so, nei- 
ther did his heart think so. 

2. They were very particular in their prayers/o;- 
him, that it would please God, some way or other, 
to defeat Herod's pui'pose, and to snatch the lamb 
out of the jaws of the lion. The death of James 
alarmed tliem to a greater fervency in their prayers 
for Peter ; for if they be broken thus with breach 
ujion breach, they fear that the enemy will make a 
full end. Stephen is not, and James is 7iot, and will 
they take Peter also ? All these things are against 
them ; this will be sorrow upon sorrow, Phil. 2. 
27. Note, Though the death and sufferings of 
Christ's ministers may be made greatly to serve the 
interests of Christ's kingdom, yet it is the duty and 
concern of the church, earnestly to pray for their 
life, liberty, and tranquillity ; and sometimes Pro- 
vidence orders it, that they are brought into immi- 
nent danger, to stir up prayer for them. 

3. Prayer was made ivithout ceasing; it was, 
'srpt.a-tu^ti 8)CT«v»f — fervent prayer i it is the word that 
is used concerning Christ's praying in his agony 
more earnestly ; it is the fervent prayer of the 
righteous man that is effectual, and availeth much. 
Some think, it denotes the constancy and continu- 
ance of their prayers ; so we take it ; they prayed 
without ceasing : it was an extended prayer; they 
prayed for his release in their public assemblies, 
private ines, perhaps, fur fear of the Jews ; then 
they wen- home, and prayed for it in their families ; 
then retired into then- closets, and prayed for it 
there ; so they prayed without ceasing: or first one 
knot of them, and then another, and then a third, 
kept a day of prayer, or rather a night of prayer, 
for him, v. 12. Note, Times of public distress and 
danger should be praying times with the church ; 
we must pray always, but then especially. 

n. Another thing that magnified his deliverance, 
was, thai when the king's conunandment and decree 
drew near to be put in execution, then his deliver- 
ance was wrofight, as Esth. 9. 1, 2. Let us observe 
when his deliverance came. 

1. It was the very night before Herod designed 
to bring him forth, wiiich made it to be so much the 
I'^reater consolation to his friends, and confusion to 



his enemies. It is probable that some who had an 
interest in Herod, or those about him, had been im- 
proving it to get a discharge for Perer, but in vain ; 
Herod resolves he shall die ; and now they despair 
of prevailing that way, for to-mon-ow is tlie day set 
for the bringing him forth ; and, it is likely, they 
will make as quick work with him as with his Mas- 
ter; and now God opened a door of escape for hi?n. 
Note, God's time to help is when things are brought 
to the last extremity, when there is none shut up or 
left; (Deut. 32. 36.) and for that reason it has been 
said, "The worse the better." \\'hen Isaac is 
bound upon the altar, and the knife in the ha?id, and 
the hand stretched out to slay him, then Jehovah- 
jireh, the Lord will provide. 

2. it was when he was fast bound with two chains, 
between two soldiers; so that if he offer to stir, he 
wakes them ; and beside this, though the prison- 
doors, no doubt, were locked and bolted, yet, to 
make sure work, the keepers before the door kept 
the prison, that no one might so much as attempt to 
rescue him. Never could the art of man do more 
to secure a prisoner ! Herod, no doubt, said, as Pi- 
late, (Matt. 27. 65.) Make it as sure as ye can. 
When men will think it too hard for God, God will 
make it appear that he is too hard for them. 

3. It was when he was sleeping between the sol- 
diers ; fast asleep ; (1.) Not terrified with his dan- 
ger, though it was very imminent, and there was 
no visible way for his escape. There was but a step 
between him and death, and yet he could lay him 
down in peace, and sleep ; slepp in the midst of his 
enemies, sleep when, it may be, they were awake ; 
having a good cause that he suffered for, and a good 
conscience that he suffered with, and being assured 
that God would issue his trial that way that should 
be most for his glory, having committed his cause to 
him that judgeth righteously , his soul dwells at ease ; 
and e\en in prison, between two soldiers, God gives 
him sleep, as he doth to hit beloved. (2.) Not ex- 
pecting his deliverance. He did not keep awake, 
looking to the right hand, or to the left, for relief, 
but lay asleep, and was perfectly surprised with his 
deliverance. Thus the church; (Ps. 126. 1.) We 
were like them that dream. 

III. It also magnified his deliverance very much, 
that an angel was sent from heaven on purpose to 
rescue him ; which made his escape both practica- 
ble and warrantable. This angel brought him a 
legal discharge, and enabled him to make use of it. 

1. The angel of the Pord came upon him ; iTri^n— 
stood over hijn ; he seemed as one abandoned by 
men, yet not forgotten of his God ; the Lord think- 
eth upon him. Gates and guards keep all his friends 
from him, but cannot keej) the angels of God from 
him : and they invisibly encamp round about them 
that fear God, to deliver thetn, (Ps. 34. 7.) and 
therefore they need not fear, though an host of ene 
mies encamp against them, Ps. 27. 3. \Mierever 
the people of God are, and however surrounded, 
they have a way open heavenward, nor can any 
thing intercept their intercourse with God. 

2. A light shined in the prison ; though it was a 
dark place, and in the night, Peter shall see his wa) 
clear. Some observe, that we do not find in the 
Old Testament, that where angels a]5pcared, the 
light shone round about them ; for that was a dark 
dispensation, and the glory of angels was then veil- 
ed ; but in the New Testament, when mention is 
made of the appearing of angels, notice is taken of 
the light that they a])peared in ; for it is by the gos- 
pel that the upper world is brought to light. The 
soldiers, to whom Peter was chained, were either 
struck into a deep sleep for the present, (as Saul 
and his soldiers were when David carried off his 
spear mid cruse of water,) or if they were awake, 
the appearance of the angel made them to shake. 



THE Acrrs, xir. 



121 



ind to become as dead men, as it was with the guard 
set on Christ's sepulchre. 

3. The angel awaked Peter, by giving hinr» a blow 
on his side, a gentle touch, enough to rouse him out 
ot his sleep, though so fast asleep, that tlie light that 
shone upon hin> did not awake him. When good 
people slumber in the time of danger, and are not 
awaked by tlie light of the word, and the discove- 
ries it gives them, let them expect to be Smitten on 
tlie side by some sharp affliction ; better be raised 
up so, than left asleep. The language of this 
stroke, was, ^"irise u/i (juickly ; not as if the angel 
tvared coming short by his delay, but Peter must 
nit be indulged in it. When David hears tJie sound 
of the going' on the tops of the inulberry trees, then 
he must rise up quickly, and brslir himself. 

A. His chains fell Qff from his hands. It seems, 
they had handcuffed him, to make him sure, but 
God loosed his bands ; and if they fall off from his 
hands, it is as well as if he had the strength of Sam- 
son to break them like threads of tow. Tradition 
makes a mighty rout ab( ut these chains, and tells a 
formal story that one of the soldiers kept them for 
a sacred relic, and they were long after presented 
to Eudoxia the empress, and I know not what mi- 
racles are said to be wrought by them ; and the Ro- 
mish church keep a feast on the first of August 
yearly in remembrance of Peter's chains, Festum 
vinculorum Petri — The feast of Peter's chains; 
whereas this was at the passover. Surely they are 
thus fond of Peter's chains, in hopes with them to 
enslave the world ! 

5. He was ordered to dress himself presently, and 
follow the angel ; and he did so, v. 8, 9. When Pe- 
ter was awake, he knew not what to do but as the 
angel directed him. (1.) He must gird himself; 
for those that slept in their clothes, ungirt them- 
selves, so that they had nothing to do, when they 
got up, but to fasten theii- girdles. (2.) He must 
bind on his sandals, that he might be fit to walk. 
Those whose bonds are loosed by the power of di- 
vine grace, must have their feet shod with the pre- 
paration of the gospel of peace. (3.) He must cast 
his garments about him, and come away as he was, 
and follow the angel ; and he might l^o with a great 
deal of courage and cheerfulness, who had a mes- 
senger from heaven for liis guide and guard ; he 
ivent out, ajid followed him. Those who are deli- 
vered out of a spiritual imprisonment, must follow 
their Deliverer, as Israel when they went out of the 
house of bondage did ; they went out, not knowing 
whither they went, but whom they followed. 

Now it is said, when Petei* went out after the an- 
gel, he wiat not that it was true which was done by 
the angel, that it was really matter of fact, but 
thought he saw a vision ; and if he did, it was not 
the first that he had seen : but by this it appears 
that a heavenly visi(tn was so plain, and carried so 
much of its own evidence along with it, that it was 
hard to distinguish between what was done in fact 
and what was done in vision. If'hen the Lord 
brought back the captivity of his fieo/de, we were 
like them that dream, Ps. 126. 1. Peter was so, he 
thought the news was too good to be true. 

6. He was led safe by the angel out of danger, v. 
10. Guards were kept at one jjass and at another, 
which thev were to make their way through, when 
they were out of the prison, and they did so without 
anv opposition ; nay, for aught that appears, with- 
out anv discovery, either their eyes were closed, or 
their hands were tied, or their hearts failed them ; 
so it was, that the angel and Peter safely passed the 
first and second ward. Those watchmen repre- 
sented the watchmen of the Jewish cluirch, on 
whom (iod had fioured out a spirit of slumber, eyes 
'hat thry should not see, and ears that they should 
not hear, Rom. 11. 8. His watchmen are blind, 

V OL. VI. — Q 



slee/iitig, lying down, and loving to slumber. But 
still tliere is an iicn gate, after all, that will stop 
t!uni, and if iVie guards can but recover themselves, 
thciT they may recover their prisoners, as Pharaoh 
hoped to take Israel at the Red Sea ; howe\er, up 
to th;it gate they march, and, like the Red Sea be- 
fore Israel, it opened to them ; they did not so much 
as jiut a hand to it, but it opened if its o%vn accord, 
by an invisible power; and thus was fulfilled in the 
letter what was figuratively promised to Cyrus, 
(Isa. 45. 1, 2.) I will open before him the two-leaved 
gates, will break in pieces the gales of brass, and cut 
in sunder the bars of iron. And probably, the ircn 
gate shut again of itself, that nt'ue of the guards 
might pursue Peter. Note, When God will work 
salvation foj- his pcf.ple, no difficidties in their way 
are insupe'-able : but even gates of iron ai e made to 
open of their own accord. This iron gate led into 
the city out of the castle or tov.er ; whether w'thin 
the gates of the city or without, is not certain, so 
that when they were through this, they were got 
into the street. 

This deliverance of Peter represents to us our re- 
demption by Christ, which is often spoken of as the 
setting of prisoners free, not only the proclaiming of 
liberty to the captives, but the bringing them out of 
the prison-house. The ai)plication of the redemp- 
tion in the conversion of souls, is the sending forth 
of the prisoners, by the blood of the covenant, out of 
the pit wherein is no water, Zcch. 9. 11. The grace 
of God, like this angel of the Lord, brings light first 
into the prison, by th£ oj)ening of the understand- 
ing ; smites the sleeping sinner on the side, bv the 
awakening of the conscience ; causes the chains to 
fall off from the hands, by the renewing of the will ; 
and then gives the word of command. Gird thyself, 
and follow me. Difficulties are to be passed througn, 
and the opposition of Satan and his instruments, a 
first and second ward^ . kn untoward generation, 
from which we are concerned to sax'e ourselves ; 
and we shall be saved by the grace of Gcd, if we 
put ourselves under the divirie conduct. And at 
length the iron gate shall be opened to us, to enter 
into the New Jerusalem, where we shall be per- 
fectly freed from all the marks of our captivity, 
and brought into the glorious liberty oj the children 
of God. 

7. When this was done, the angel departed from 
him, and left him to himself ; he was out of danger 
from his enemies, and needed no guard ; he knew 
where he was, and how to find out his friends, and 
needed no guide, and therefore his hea^'enly guard 
and guide bids him farewell. Note, Miracles are 
not to be expected, when oi-dinary means are to be 
used. When Petei- has now no more wards to pass, 
or iron gates to i::et thr' ugh, he needs only the or- 
dinary invisible ministration of the angels, who en- 
camj) round about them that fear God, and deliver 
them. 

IV. Having seen how his deliverance was mag 
nified, we are next to see how it was manifested 
both to himself and ethers, and how, being madt 
great, it was made known. \\'e are here told, 

1. How Peter ciime to himself, and so came him- 
self to the knowledge of it, t. 1 1. So many strange 
and surprising thinirs coming together upon a man 
just waked out of sleep, put him for the present into 
some confusion ; so that he knew not where he was, 
nor what he did, nor whether it was fancy or fact ; 
but at length Peter came to himself, was thoroughly 
awake, and f'und that it was not a dream, but a real 
thing ; " .Vow I know of a surety, now I kn.'iw ax;)6if 
— truly, now I know that it is truth, and not an 
illusion of the fancy. Now I am well satisfied con 
cerning it, that the Lord .lesvs hath sent his angel, 
for angels are subject to him and go on his errands, 
and by him hath delivered me out of the hands of 



122 



THE ACTS, XII. 



Herod, who thought he had me fast, and so hath 
disappointed all the expectation of the peo/ile of the 
Jews, who doubted not to see Peter cut off the next 
day, and hoped it was the one neck of Christianity, 
in which it would all be stmck off at one blow." 
For which reason it was a cause of great expecta- 
tion, among not only the common people, but the 
great people of the .Jews. Peter, when he recol- 
lected himself, perceived of a truth what great things 
God had done for him, which at first he could not | 
believe for joy. Thus souls who are delivered out 
of a spiritual 'bondage, are not at first aware what 
God has wrought in them ; many have the trath of 
grace, that want the evidence of it. They are ques- 
tioning, whether there be indeed this change wrought 
in tlicm, or whether they have not been all this 
while in a dream. But lohen the Comforter comes, 
vjhom the Father ivill send, sooner or later he will 
let them know of a surety what a blessed change is 
wrought in them, and what a happy state they are 
brou;<ht into. 

2. How Peter came to his friends, and brought the 
knowledge of it to them. Here is a particular ac- 
count of this, and it is very entertaining. 

(1.) He considered the thing, {v. 12.) considered 
how imminent his danger was, how great his deli- 
verance ; and now what has he to do, what im- 
provement must he make of this deliverance ? 
What must he do next .' God's providence leaves 
room for the use of our prudence ; and what he has 
begun, though he has undertaken to perform and 
perfect it, he expects we should consider the thing. 
(2.) He went directly to a friend's house, which, 
it is likely, lay near to the place where he was ; it 
was the house of Mary, a sister of Barnabas, and 
mother of John Mark, whose house, it should seem, 
was frequently made use of for the private meeting 
of the disciples ; either, because it was large, and 
would hold many, or because it lay obscure, or be- 
cause she was more forward than others were to open 
her doors to them ; and, no doubt, it was, like the 
house of ObededoiTi, blessed for the ark's sake. A 
chnrcli in the house makes it a little sanctuary. 

(3.) There he found many that were gathered to- 
gether/graying, at the dead time of the night, pray- 
ing for Peter, who was the next day to come upon 
his trial, that God would find out some way or other 
for his deliverance. Observe, [1.] They continued 
in prayer, in token of their importunity ; they did 
not tliink it enough once to have presented his case 
to Gnd, but they did it again and again". Thus vien 
ought always to pray, and not to faint. As long as 
we are kept waiting for a mercy, we must continue 
praying for it. [2.] It should seem that now when 
the affair came near to a crisis, tmd the very next 
day was fixed for the determining of it, they were 
more fervent in ])rayer than before ; and it was a 
good sign that God intended to deliver Peter, when 
he thus stirred uj) a s])irit of prayer for his deliver- 
ance, f )r he never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye 
my face in vain. [3.] They gathered together for 
prayer on this occasion ; though that would make 
them ol)noxious to the government if they were dis- 
covered, yet they know what an encouragement 
Christ gave to joint-prayer. Matt. 18. 19, 20. And 
it was always the practice of God's praying people 
to unite their forces in ])rayer, as Esth. 4. 16. 2 
Chrnn. 20. 4. [4.] They were many that were got 
together for this work, as many perhaps as the roum 
would hold ; and first one prayed, and then anotlier 
of those who gave themselves to the word and y)ray- 
er, the rest joining with them ; or if they had not 
ministers among them, no doubt but there were 
many private chiistians that knew how to ]iray, and 
to pray pertinently, and to continue long in prayer, 
when the affections of those who joined were so stir- 
♦hI as to keep pace with them upon such an occa- 



sion. This was in the night, when others were 
asleep, which was an instance both of their piiidence 
and of their zeal. Note, It is good for christians to 
have private meetings for prayer, especially in times 
of distress, and not to let fiill or forsake such assem- 
blies. [5.] Peter came to them when they were 
thus employed : which was an immediate present 
answer to their j^rayer. It was as if Gud should say, 
"You are praying that Peter may be restored to 
you ; now here he is." While they are yet speaking, 
I will hear, Isa. 65. 24. Thus the angel was sent 
with an answer of peace to Daniel's pra\er, while 
he was praying, Dan. 9. 20, 21. Jsk, and it shall 
be given. 

(4. ) He knocked at the gate, and had much ado to 
get them to let him m ; {v 13 — 16.) Feter knocked 
at the door of the gate, desii^niiig by it to awaken 
them out of their sleej), and, for aught that appears, 
not knowing that he disturbed them in their devo- 
tions. Yet if his friends were ])ermitted to speak 
with him in private in the prison, it is possible he 
might know of this ap])ointment, and this was it 
which he recollected and considered when he deter- 
mined to go to that house, where he knew he should 
find many of his friends together. Now when he 
knocked there, [1.] A damsel came to hearken ; not 
to open the door till she knew who was there, a 
friend or a foe, and what their business was, fearing 
informers. Whether this damsel was one < f the 
family or one of the church, whether a servant or a 
daughter, does not appear ; it should seem by her 
being named, that she was of note among the chris- 
tians, and more zealonsl\- affected to the better part 
than most of her age. [2. ] She knew Peter's voice, 
having often heard him pray, and jireach, and dis- 
course, with a great ucai oi pleasure. But instead 
of letting him in immediately out of the cold, she 
opened not the gate for gladnei'j. Thus sometimes, 
in a transport of affection to our friends, we do that 
which is unkind. In an ecstas} of joy she forgets 
herself, and opened not the gate. [3.] She ran in, 
and probably went up to an u]jper room where they 
were together, and told them that Peter was cer- 
tainly at the gate, though she had not courage enough 
to open the gate, for fear she should be deceived, 
and it should be the enemy. But when she spake of 
Peter's being there, they said, " 7 iiou art mad ; it 
is impossible it should be he, for he is in prison." 
Sometimes that which we most earnestly wish for 
we are most backward to believe, because we are 
afraid of imposing upon ourselves, as the disciples, 
who, when Christ was risen, believed not for joy. 
However, she stood to it, that it was he. 7"hen said 
they. It is his avgel, v. 15. First, " It is a messen- 
ger from him, that makes use of his name ;" so some 
take it ; ayyo,^ often siu,nifies no more than a mes- 
senger. It is used of John's messengers, (Luke 7. 
24,' 27.) of Christ's, — 9. 52. When the damsel was 
confident it was Peter, because she knew his voice, 
they thoiight it was because he that stood at the 
door, had called himself Peter, and therefore offer 
this solution of the difficulty, ♦• It is one that comes 
with an errand from him, and thou didst mistake as 
if it had been he himself." Dr. Hanmiond thinks 
this the easiest way of understanding it. Secondly, 
"It is his guardian angel, or some other angel, that 
has assumed his sha])e and voice, and stands at the 
gate in his resemblance ;" some think, that they 
supposed his angel to appear ;is a presage of his 
death approaching ; and this agrees with a nrtion 
which the vulvar have, that sometimes before per- 
sons have died, their ward has been see?i, that is, 
some spirit exactly in their likeness for countenance 
and dress, when they themselves have been at the 
same time in some other place : thev call it the-r 
ward, that is their aneel, who is their mn -d. It so, 
they concluded this an ill omen, that their jtravpry 



THE ACTS, XII. 



123 



were denied, and that thv» Krgniage of the apparition 
was, " Let it suffice yov.\ Vetsr must die, say no more 
of that matter. " And n we ui.derstand it so, it only 
pi-oves that they had then such an t pinion of a man's 
jvard being seen a little before his death, but does 
not prove that there is such a thing Others think, 
they took this to be an angel from heaven, sent to 
Dring them a grant to tiieir prayers. But why should 
they imagine that angel to assume tlie voice and 
ohape of Peter, when we find not any thing like it in 
Ehe appearance of angels ? Perhaps, they herein 
spake the language of the Jews, who had a fond con- 
ceit, that e\ery good man has a particular tutelar 
angel, that has the charge of him, and sometimes 
personates him. The heathen called it a good 
genius that attended a man ; but since no other 
scripture speaks of such a thing, this • alone is too 
weak to bear the weight of such a doctrine. We 
are sure that the angels are ministering spirits for 
the good of the heirs of salvatio7i ; that they have a 
charge coficerning them, and /litch their tents rou?id 
about them ; and we need not be solicitous that 
eveiy particular saint should have hh guardian an- 
gel, when we are assured he has a guard of angels. 
(5.) At length they let him in ; {v. 16.) He con- 
ti7iued knockmg though tliey delayed to open to him, 
and at last they admitted him. The iron gate, 
which opposed his enlargement, opened of itself, 
without so much as once knocking at it ; but the door 
of his friend's house that was to welcome him, does 
not open of its own accord, but must be knocked at, 
long knocked at ; lest Peter should be puffed up by 
the honours which the angel did him, he meets with 
this mortification, by a seeming slight which his 
friends put upon him. But nvhcn they saw him, they 
ivere astonished, were filled with wonder and joy in- 
him, as much as they were but just now with sorrow 
and fear concerning him. It was both surprising 
and pleasing to them in the highest degree. 

(6.) Peter gave them an account of his deliver- 
ance ; when he came to the company that were 
gathered together with so much zeal to pray for 
him, they gathered about him with no less zeal to 
congratulate him on his deliverance ; and herein 
they were so noisy, that when Peter himself begged 
them to consider what peril he was yet in, if they 
slioukl be overheard, he could not make them hear 
him, but was forced to beckon to them rjtth the hand 
to hold their fieace, and had much ado thereby to 
command silence, while he declared unto them how 
the Lord Jesus had by an angel brought him out of 
firison ; and, it is very likely, having found them 
jiraying for his deliverance, he did not part with 
them till he and they had together solemnly given 
thanks to God for his enlargement ; or if he could 
not stay to do it, it is likely, they stayed together to 
do it ; for what is won by fir ay er must be worn with 
firaise ; and God must always have the glory of that 
which we have the comfort of. When David de- 
clares what God had done for his soul, he blesses 
God who had not turned away his prayer, Ps. 66. 
16, 20. 

(7. ) Peter sent the account to others of his friends ; 
Go, shew these things to James, and to the brethren 
with him ; who perhaps were met together in ano- 
ther place at the same time, upon the same errand 
to the throne of grace ; which is one way of keeping 
up the communion of saints, and wrestling with God 
in praver, acting in concert, though at a distance ; 
like Esther and Mordecai. He would have James 
and his company to know of his deliverance, not 
only that they might be eased of their pain, and 
delivered from their fears concerning Peter, but 
that they might return thanks to God with him and 
for him. Observe, Though Herod had slain one 
James with the sword, yet here was another James, 
and that in Jerusalem too, that stood up in his room 



to preside among the brethren there ; for when God 
has work to do, he will never want instnmients to 
do it with. 

(8.) Peter had nothing more to do for the present 
than to shift for his own safety, which he did ac- 
cordingly ; he departed, and went i?ito another place 
more obscure, and therefore more safe. He knew 
the town very well, and knew where to find a place 
that would be a shelter to him. Note, Even the chris- 
tian law of self-denial and suffering for Christ, has 
not abrogated and repealed the natural law of self- 
preservation, and care for our own safety, as far as 
God gives an opportunity of providing for it by law- 
ful means. 

V. Having seen the triumph of Peter's friends in 
his deliverance, let us next observe the confusion of 
his enemies thereupon ; which was so much the 
greater, because people^s expectation was so much 
raised of the putting c-f him to death. 

1. The guards were in the utmost consternation 
upon it, for they knew how highly penal it was to 
them to let a prisoner escape, that they had charge 
of; (t'. 18.) As soon as it was day, and they found 
their prisoner gone, there was no small stir or strife, 
as some read it, among the soldiers, what was become 
of Peter ; he is gone, and nobody knows how or 
which way. They thought themselves as sure as 
could be of him but last night ; yet now the bird is 
flown, and they can hear no tale or tidings of him. 
This set them together by the ears ; one sajs, " It 
was your fault ;" the other, "Nay, but it was yours ;" 
having no other way to clear themselves, but by ac- 
cusing one another. \\'ith us, if but a prisoner for 
debt escape, the sheriff must answer for the debt. 
Thus have the persecutors of the gospel of Christ 
been often filled with vexation to see its cause con- 
quering, notwithstanding the opposition they have 
given to it. 

2. Houses were searched in vain for the rescued 
prisoner; (v. 19.) Herod sought for him, and found 
him not. Who can find whom God hath hidden ? 
Baruch and Jeremiah are safe, though searched for, 
because the Lord has hid them, Jer. 36. 26. In times 
of public danger, all believers have God for their 
Hidmg-place ; which is such a secret, that there 
the ignorant world cannot find them ; such a strength, 
that the impotent world cannot reach them. 

3. The keepers were reckoned with for a permis- 
sive escape ; Herod examined the keepers, and find- 
ing that they could give no satisfactory account how 
Peter got away, he commanded that they should be 
put to death, according to the Roman law, and that. 
(1 Kings 20. 39.) If by any means he be missing, 
then shall thy life go for his life. It is probable that 
these keepers had been more severe with Peter than 
they needed to be, (as the jailor, ch. 16. 24.) ;uid 
had been abusive to him, and to others that had been 
their prisoners upon the like account ; and now justly 
are they put to death for that Avhich was not their 
fault, and by him too that had set them to work to 
vejc the church. When the wicked are thus snared 
in the work of their own hands, the Lord is known 
by the judgments which he executes. Or, if they 
had not thus made themselves obnoxious to the jus- 
tice of God, and it be thought hard that innocent 
men should suffer thus for that which was purely 
the act of God ; we may easily ?dniit the conjecture 
of some, that though they were commanded to be pu 
to death, to please the Jews, who were sadly disap- 
pointed bv Peter's escape, vet they were not exe- 
cuted ; but Herod's death, immediately after, pn - 
vented it. 

4. Herod himself retired upon it ; He went dowi 
from J\idea to Cesarea, and there abode. He was 
vexed to the heart, as a lion disappointed of his 
prey ; and the more because he had so much raised 
t\it expectation of the people of the Jews conccrninj 



I '24 



THE ACTS, XII. 



Peter, had told them how he would veiy shortly 
griitity them with the sight of Peter's head in a 
cliarger, which would oblige them as much as John 
Baptist's did Herodias ; it made him ashamed to be 
robbed of this boasting, and to see himself, notwith- 
standing his confidence, disabled to make his words 
good, i'his is such a mortification to his proud spirit, 
that he cannot bear to stay in Judea, but away he 
goes to Cesarea. Josephus mentions this con»ing of 
Herod to Cesarea, at the end of the third year of his 
reign over all Judea; {Aiitk/uit. 19. 7.) and says, he 
came thither to solemnize the plays that were kept 
there, by a vast concourse of the nobility and gentry 
of the kingdom, for the health of Cxsar, and in 
honour of him. 

20. And Herod was highly displeased 
with them of Tyre and Sidon : but they 
came wilh one accord to him, and, having 
made Blastus the king's chamberlain their 
friend, desired peace ; because their coun- 
try was nourished by the king's country. 
'■2\. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in 
royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and 
made an oration unto them. 22. And the 
people gave a shout, saijlng, It is the voice 
of a god, and not of a man. 23. And im- 
mediately the angel of the Lord smote him, 
because he gave not God the glory : and 
he was eaten of worms, and gave up tiie 
ghost. 24. But the word of God grew and 
multiplied. 25. And Barnabas and Saul 
returned from Jerusalem, when they had 
fulfilled t/icir ministry, and took with them 
John, whose surname was Mark. 

In these verses, we have, 

I. 'Phe death of Herod. God reckoned with him, 
n^'t only for his putting James to death, but for his 
disign and endea\'our to put Peter to deatli ; for sin- 
n( rs will be called to an account, not only for the 
w ckedness of their deeds, but for the wickedness 
of r.\\e\r en deav OUTS ; (Ps. 28. 4.) for the mischief 
thev have done, and the mischef they would have 
done. It was but a little while that Herod lived 
after this. Some sinners God makes quick work 
with. Ooserve, 

1. How tlie measure of his iniquity was filled up ; I 
it was firide that did it ; that is it that commonly goes j 
more immediately before destruction, and a haughty j 
spirit before a fall. Ncbuchadnezzer had been a | 
very blood\" man, and a great persecutor ; but the i 
word that was in the king's mouth when the judg- 
ments of Ciod fell upon him, was a proud word ; Is 
not this great Babylon that I have built? Dan. 4. 
30, 31. It is the glory of Ciod to look on every one 
that is firoud, and bring him low, Job 40. 11. The 
instance of it here is very remai-kable, and shews 
how God resists the firoud. 

(1.) The men of Tyre and Sidon had, it seems, 
offended Herod ; those cities were now under the 
Roman yoke, and some misdemeanors they had been 
guilty of, which Herod highly resented, and was re- 
solved tliey should feel his resentment. Some very 
small matter would serve such a proud imperious 
man as Herod was for a provocation, where lie was 
minded to ])ick a quan'el. He was highly disjjleascd 
with tliis i)e(.ple, and they must be made to know 
that his wrath was as the roaring of a lion, as mes- 
sengers of death. 

(2.) Tl\e offenders truckled, being convinced, if 
not that they had done amiss, yet that it was in vain 
'() contend with such a potent adversary, who, right 



or wrong, would be voo hard for tnem ; they sub 
mitted, and were willing upon any terms X.o 7nake 
peace with him. Observe, [1.] l"he reason why 
they were desirous to have the matter accc nmio- 
dated ; because their country was riouiished by the 
f:i?ig's country. Tyre and Sidon were trading cities, 
and had little land belonging to them, but were al- 
wa3's supplied with corn from the land of Canaan ; 
Judah and Israel traded in their market, wheat, 
and honey, and oil. Ezek. 27. 17. Now if Herod 
should make a law to prohibit the exportation of 
corn to Tyre and Sidon, (which the)' knew n(;t but 
a man so revengeful as he might soon do, not caring 
how many were famished by it,) their country would 
be undone ; so that it was their interest to keep in 
with him. And is it not then our wisdom to make 
our peace with God, and humble oursehes liefore 
him, who have a much more constant andnecessary 
dependence upon him, than one cc-untry can have 
upon another r for in him we live, and ?nove, arid 
have our being. [2.] The method they took to pre- 
vent a rupture ; They made Blastus the king's cham- 
berlain their friend ; it is very likely, with bribes 
and good presents ; that is usually the way for men 
to make courtiers their friends. And it is the hard 
fate of princes, that they must have not only their 
affairs, but their affections too, governed by such 
mercenary tools : yet such men as Herod, that will 
not be governed l)y reason, had better l)e so govern- 
ed than by pi-ide and ])assion. Blastus had Herod's 
ear, and has the art of mollifying his resentments; 
and a time is fixed for the ambassadors of Tyre and 
Sidon to come and make a public submission, to beg 
his majesty's ])ardon, throw themselves upon his 
clemency, and promise never again to offend in the 
like kind ; and that which will thus feed his pride, 
shall serve to cool his passion. 

(3.) Herod appeared in all the pomp and grandeur 
he had ; he was arrayed in his royal apfiarel, {y. 21. ) 
and sat up07i his throne. Josephus gives an account 
of this s])lendid appearance which Herod made upon 
this occasion. Jlntiguit. lib. 19. cap. 7. He s;.ys, 
that Herod at this time wore a robe of cloth of sil- 
ver, so richly woven, and framed with such art, 
that when the sun shone, it reflected the light willi 
such a lustre as dazzled the eyes of the spectators, 
and struck an awe upon them. Foolish people value 
men by their (nitward ai^jiearance ; and no better 
are they who vahie themselves by the esteem of 
such ; who court it, and reconmiend themselves to 
it, as Herod did, who thought to make up the want 
of a royal heart, witli his royal apparel; and sat 
upon his throne, as if that gave him a privilege to 
trample upon all about liim as his footstool. 

(4.) He made a speech to the men of Tyre and 
Sidon, a fine oration, in which, probably, after he 
had aggravated their fault, and commended their 
submission, he concluded with an assurance that he 
would pass bv their offence, and receive them into 
his favour again ; proud enoueh that he had it in 
his power, nvhom he would to keep alive, as well as 
who7n he would to slay; and, j)robably, he k( ])t 
them in susiiense as to what their doom should be, 
till he made tliis oration to them, that the act of 
grace might ccnne to them with the more pleasing 
surprise. 

(.5.) The people applauded him, the people that 
had a dependence upon him, and had lienefit by his 
favour, the\' gave a shout ; and this was it they 
shouted. It is the voice of a god, and not of a man, 
V. 22. God is great and good, and they thought 
such was Herod's greatness in his a])parel and 
throne, and such his goodness in forgiving them, 
that he was wortlu' to be called no less than a god : 
and jierhaps his speech was delivered with such an 
air of majesty, and a mixture of clemency with it, 
as affected the auditors thus. Or, it may be, it wat 



THE ACTS, XII. 



195 



not ivom anv real impression made upon their minds, 
or anv '\ 1,11 or good thoughts they had indeed con- 
ceived of him ; but how meanly soever they thought 
of him, they were resolved thus to curry favour with 
him, and strengthen the new-made peace between 
him and tlicm. Thus great men are made an easy 
]jrey to flatterers, if they lend an ear to them, and 
encourage them. Grotius here observes, that though 
magistrates are called gods, (Ps. 82. 1.) yet kings 
or monarchs, that is, single persons, are not, lest 
countenance should thereby be given to the Gentiles, 
who give dix'ine honours to their kings alix'e and 
dead, as here ; but they are a college of senators, or 
a bench of judges, that are called gods. In col- 
legio toto senatorum non idem erat fiericuli ; itaque 
eos, n'm autem reges, invenimus dictos elohim. 
Those that live by sense, vilify God, as if he were 
altogether such a one as themselves ; and deify men, 
as if they were gods ; having their persons in admi- 
ration, because of advantage. This is not only a 
great affront to God, giving that glory to others, 
which is due to him alone, but a great injury to 
those who are thus flattered, as it makes them for- 
get themselves, and so puffs them up with pride, 
that they are in tlie utmost danger possible of falling 
into the condemnation ;)f the devil. 

(6.) These undue praises he took to himself, 
pleased liimself with them, and prided himself in 
them ; and tliat was his sin. We do not find that 
he had given any private orders to his confidents to 
begin such a shout, or to put those words into the 
mouths of the people, or that he returned them 
thanks for the compliment, and undertook to answer 
their opinion of him. But his fault was, that he 
said nothing, did not rebuke their flattery, nor dis- 
own tlie title they had given him, nor give God the 
glory, {v. 23.) but he took it to himself, vyas very 
willing it should terminate in himself, and that he 
should be thought a god and have divine Imnours 
paid him. Si fiofiulus vult decijii, decifiiatiir — If 
the people ivill be deceived, let them. And it was 
worse in him who was a Jew, and professed to be- 
lieve one God only, than it was in the heathen em- 
perors, who had gods many and lords many. 

2. Observe, How his iniquitv was punished ; Im,- 
mediately {v. 2.3.) the angel of the Lord smote him, 
(by the order of Christ, for to him all judgment is 
committed,) because he gave not God the glory ; 
(for God is jealous for his own honour, and will be 
glorified upon those whom he is not glorified by ;) 
and he was eaten of worms, above ground, and gave 
up the ghost. Now he was reckoned with for vex- 
ing the church of Christ, killing James, imprisoning 
Peter, and all the other mischiefs he had done. 
Observe in the destruction of Herod, 

(1.) It was no less than an angel that was the 
agent ; the angel of the Lord, that angel that was 
ordered and commissioned to do it, or that angel 
that used to be employed in works of this nature, 
the destroying angel : or the angel, that is, that an- ' 
gel that delivered Peter in the former part of the 
chapter — that angel smote Herod. For, those mi- 
nistering s]>irits are the ministers either of divine 
justice or of divine mercy, as God is pleased to em- 
ploy them. The angel smote him with a sore dis- 
ease just at that instant when he v/as strutting at the 
ap])lauscs of the people, and adoring his own sha- 
dow. Thus the king of Tvre said in his pride, I am 
a god, I sit in the seat of God ; and set his heart as 
the heart of God ; but he shall be a man, and no 
god, a weak mortal man, in the hand of him that 
Kiayeth him ; (Ezek. 28. 2, 9.) so Herod here. Po- 
tent princes must know, not only that God is omni- 
potent, btit that ansrels too are greater in power and 
might than thev. The angel smote him, because he 
p^ave not the glorii to God ; angels are jealous for 
God's honour, and as soon as ever they have com- 



mission, are ready to smite th'^se that u«^urp his \ iv ■ 
rogatives, and rolS (iod of his lKn(!ur. 

(2.) It was no more than a worm that was the 
instmment of Herod's destruction ; he was eatm of 
worms, ytvifxti®' a-ncoKKni^^al©' — he became worm- 
eaten, so it must be read ; rotten he was, and he be- 
came like a piece of rotten wood. The body in the 
grave is destroyed by worms ; but Herod's body 
jjutrefied while he was yet alive, and bred the 
worms that began to feed upon it betimes ; so Anti- 
ochus, that great persecutor, died. See here, [1.1 
What vile bodies those are which we cairy about 
witli us ; they carry about with them the seeds of 
their own dissolution, by which they will soon be 
destroyed whenever God does but speak the word. 
Surjirising discoveries have of late been made by 
microsco])es of the multitude of worms that there 
are in human bodies, and how much they contribute 
to the diseases of them ; which is a good reason whv 
we shotdd not be proud of our bodies, or of any of 
their accomplishments; and why we should not pam- 
])er otn- bodies, for that is but feeding the worms, 
and feeding them for the worms. [2.] See what 
weak and contemptible creatures God can make 
the instruments of his justice, when he pleases. 
Pharaoh is ))]agued with lice and _/lies, Ephraim 
consumed as with a tnoth, and Herod eaten oiworins. 
[3.] See how (iod delights not only to bring down 
jiroud men, but to bring them down in such a way 
as is most mortifying, and pours most contempt upon 
them. Herod is not only destroyed, but destroved 
by worms, that the pride of his glory may be effec- 
tualy stained. 

This story of the <leath of Hen^d is particulfirlv 
related bv Josephus, a Jew, Antiquit. lib. 19. cap. 7. 
thus : "That Herod came down to Cesarea, to cele- 
brate a festival in honour of Cxsar; that the second 
day of the festival, he went in the morning to the 
theatre, clothed with that splendid robe mentioned 
Ijcfore ; that his flatterers saluted him as a god, 
begged that he would be propitious to them ; that 
hitherto they had reverenced him as a man, but 
now they would confess to be in him somethinc; 
more excellent than a mortal nature. That he did 
not refuse or correct this impious flattery ; (so the 
historian expresses it ;) but, pi'esently after, looking 
up, he saw an owl perched over his head, and was 
at the same instant seized with a most violent pain 
in his bowels, and gripes in his belly, which were 
exquisite from the very first ; that he turned his 
eyes upon his friends, and said to this purpose ; Now 
I, whom you called a god, and therefore immortal, 
must be proved a man, and mortal. That his tor- 
ture continyed without intermission, or the least 
abatement, and then he died in the fifty-fourth year 
of his age, when he had been king seven years. 

II. The progress of the gospel after this. 

1. The word of God grew and multiplied ; as 
seed sown, which comes up with a great increase 
thirty, sixty, a hundred-fold ; wherever the gospel 
was preached, multitudes embraced it, and were 
added to the church bv it, t. 24. After the death 
of James, the word of God grew ; for the church, 
the more it was afflicted, the more it multij)lied, 
like Israel in Egypt. The courage and comfort of 
the martyrs, and God's owning them, did more to 
invite them to Christianity, than their sufferintrs did 
to deter them from it. After the death of Herrd 
the word of God pot ground. When such a perse- 
cutor was taken off liy a dreadful juds^ment, many 
were thereby convinced, that the cause of Christi- 
anity was doubtless the cause of Christ, and there- 
fore embmced it. 

2. Barnabas and Saul returned to Antioch as 
soon as they had dispatched the business they were 
sent upon ; liTien they had fulfilled their ministry, 
had paid in their money to the proper persons. 



Ii6 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



and taken caro about the due distribution of it to 
those for whom it was collected, they returned from 
JeruHultin. Though they had a great many friends 
thert, yet at ])reseiit their work lay at Antioch ; and 
where our business is, there we should be ; and no 
lunger from it than is requisite. When a minister 
is called abroad upon any service, when he has ful- 
tilled that ministry, he ought to remember that he 
has work to do at home, which wants him there, 
and calls him thither. Barnabas and Saul, when 
tliey went to Antioch, took with them John, whose 
surname was iMark, at whose mother's house they 
had that meeting for prayer wliich we read off. 12. 
She was sister to Barnabas. It is pi'obal)le that Bar- 
nabas lodged tliere, and perhaps Paul with him, 
while they were at Jerusalem, and that was it that 
occasic^ied tlie meeting there at that time ; for 
wherever Paul was, he would have some good work 
a doing ; and tlieir intimacy in that family while 
they were at Jerusalem, occasioned their taking a 
son of that family with them when they returned, 
to be trained up under them, and employed by them, 
in the service of the gospel. Educating young men 
for the ministry, and entering them into it, is a very 
good work for elder ministers to take care of, and of 
good service to the rising generation. 

CHAP. XIII. 

We have not yet met with any thing concerning the spreadinsr 
of the gospel to the Gentiles, which bears any proportion 
10 the largeness of that commission, Go, and disciple all 
nations. The door was opened in tlie baptizintr of (3orne- 
lius and his friends; but since then we had the gospel 
preached to the Jews only, cli. 1 1 . . 19. U should seem as 
if the light which began to shine upon the Gentile world, 
had withdrawn itself But here in this chapter that work, 
that great good work, is revived in tlie midst of the years ; 
and tliough the Jews shall still have the first offer of the 
gospel made to tliem, yet, upon their refusal, tlie Gentiles 
shall have their share of the offer of it. Here is, I. The 
solemn ordination of Barnabas and Saul, by divine direc- 
tion, to the ministrv, to the great work of spreading the gos- 
pel among tne nations about, (and it is probable that other 
apostles or apostolical men dispersed themselves by order 
from Christ, upon the same errand, v. I ..3.) II. Their 
preaching tlie uospel in Cyprus, and the opposition they 
met with there from Elymas the sorcerer, v.'4. . 13. III. 
The lieatis of a sermon which Paul preached to the Jews 
at Antioch in Pisidia, in their synaijogue, which is given 
us as a specimen of what they usually preached to the 
Jeivs, and the method they took with them, v. 14 . . 41. IV. 
The preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles at their request, 
and upon the Jews' refusal of it, wherein the apostles jus- 
tified themselves against the displeasure which the Jews 
conC(-ived at it, and God owned them, v. 42 . . 49. V. The 
troulile whicli the infidel Jews pave to the apostles, which 
obliged them to remove to another place, (v. 50. . 52.) so 
that tlie design of this chapter is to shew how cautiously, 
how gradually, and with what good reason, the apostles 
carried the gospel into the Gentile world, and admitted 
the Gentiles into the church, which was so great an offence 
to the Jews, and which Paul is so industrious to justify in 
his epistles. 

1 . I^POW there were in the church that 
X^ was at Antioch, certain prophets 
and teachers ; as Barnabas, and Simeon 
that was called Niiior, and Lucius of Cy- 
rene, and Manaeii, which had been brought 
up with Ilerod the tetrarch, and Said. 2. 
As they ministered to the Lord, and fast- 
ed, the [loly (ihostsaid, Separate me Bar- 
nabas and Saul for the work whereunto I 
have called them. 3. And when they had 
fasted and prayed, and laid their Imnds on 
them, they sent them away. 

Wc have here a divine warrant and commission 
'o Barnabas and Saul, to go and preach the gospel 



among the Gentiles, and their ordination to that 
service by the imposition of hands, with fasting and 
prayer. 

I. Here is an account of the present state of tiic 
church at Antioch, which was planted ch. 11. 20. 

1. How well furnished it was with good ministers ; 
there were there certain firo/ihets arid teachers, {y. 
1.) men that were eminent for gifts, graces, and use- 
fulness. Christ, when he ascended on high, gave 
some profihcts, and some teachers ; ^Eph. 4. 11.) 
these were both. Agabus seems to have been a 
prophet, and not a teacher ; and many were teach- 
ers, who were not prophets ; l^ut those were at times 
divinely ins])ired, and nad instructions immediately 
from heaven upon special occasions, which gave 
them the title of jmiphets ; and withal they were 
stated teachers of the church in their religious as- 
semblies, expounded the scriptures, and opened 
the doctrine of Christ with suitable applications. 
These were the prophets, and scril)c s, or teachers, 
which Christ promised to send, (Matt. 23. 34.) such 
as were every way qualified for the service of the 
christian church. Antioch was a great city, and 
the christians there were many, so that they could 
not all meet in one place ; it was therefore requisite 
they should have many teachers, to ])reside in their 
respective assemblies, and to deliver Ciod's mind to 
them. Barnabas is first named, probably Ijecause 
he was the eldest, and Saul last, probably because he 
was the youngest ; but afterward the last became 
first, and Saul more eminent in the church. 

Three others are mentioned. (1.) Simeon, or 
Simon, who for distinction-sr:ke was called A^'iger, 
Simon the Black, from the colour of his hair; like 
liim that with us was surnamcd the Black Prince. 
(2.) Lucius of Cyrene, who, some think, (and Dr. 
Lightfoot inclines to it,) was the same with this 
Luke that wrote the Acts ; origiually a Cyrenian, 
and educated in the Cyrenian college or synagogue 
at Jerusalem, and there first receiving the gosjiel. 
(3.) Manaen, a person of some quality, as it should 
seem, for he was brought u/i with Herod the te- 
trarch ; either nursed ot the same milk, or bred at 
the same school, or pupil to the same tutor, or ra- 
ther one that was his constant colleague and com- 
panion ; that in e\ ery part of his education was his 
comrade and intimate, which gave him a fair pros- 
pect of preferment at court, and yet for Christ's 
sake he quitted all the ho])esof it ; like Moses, who, 
when he was come to years, refused to be called the 
son of Pharaoh's daughter. Had he joined in with 
Herod, with whom he was brought up, he might 
have had Blastus's place, and have been his cham- 
berlain ; but it is better to be felhnv-sufferer with a 
saint than fellow-persecutor with a tetrarch. 

2. How well emj)loyed they were ; (v. 2.) Theif 
?ninistered to the l.ord, and fasted. ()bscr\e, (J.) 
Diligent faithhil teachers do truly minister unto the 
Lord. They that insti-uct christians, ser\c Christ ; 
they really do him honour, and carry on the interest 
of his kingdom. They that minister to the church 
in praying and preaching, (both which are included 
here,) minister unto the Lord, for they are the 
church's servants for Christ's sake ; to him they 
must have an eye in their ministrations, and from him 
they shall have their recompense. (2.) Ministering 
unto the Lord, in one way or other, ought to be the 
stated business of churches and their teachers ; to 
this work time ought to be set apart, nay it is set 
apai-t, and in this work we ought to spend some ]iart 
of every day. What have we to do as christians and 
ministers but to seii^e the Lord Christ ? Col. 3. 24. 
Rom. 14. 1'8. (3.) Religious /fw//»^ is of use in our 
ministering to the Lord, both as a sign of our hu- 
miliation and a means of our mortification. Though 
it was not so much jjractised by the discijjles of 
Christ while the Bridegroom was with them, as it 



THE ACTS, XJII. 



127 



x\as by the disciples of John, and of the Pharisees ; ' 
yet atter the Bridegroom was taken away, they 
abounded in it, as those tluit had well learned to deny 
themselves, and to endure hardness. 

II. The orders given by the Holy Ghost for the 
setting apart of Barnabas and Saul, while they were 
engaged in public exercises ; the ministers of the 
sevend congregations in tlie city joining in one solt nm 
fast orday of prayer, the Holy Ghost said, either by 
a voice from heaven, or by a strong impulse on the 
mmds of those of them that were prophets, Se/iarate 
me Barnabas and Saul for the work -ivhcreunto I 
have called them. He does no specify the work, 
but refers to a former call which they themselves 
knew the meaning of, whether others did or no ; as 
for Saul, he was particularlv told that he must bear 
Christ's name to the Gentiles, {ch. 9. 15.) that he 
must be sent to the Gentiles, {ch. 22. 21.) the matter 
was settled between them at Jei-usalem before this, 
that as Peter, James and Joiin, laid out themselves 
among them of the circumcision, so Paul and Bar- 
nabas should go to the heathen. Gal. 2. 7 — 9. Bar- 
nabas, it is likely, knew himself designed for that 
sei-vice as well as Paul. Yet they would not thrust 
themselves into this harvest, though it appeared 
plenteous, till they received their orders from the 
Lord of the harvest ; Thrust in thy sickle, for the 
harvest is ri/ie, Rev. 14. 15. The orders were. Se- 
parate me Barnabas aiid Saul. Observe here, 

1. Christ by his Spirit has the nomination of his 
ministers ; for it is by the Spirit of Christ that they 
are both qualified in some measure for his service, 
inclined to it, and taken off from other cares incon- 
sistent with it. There are some whom the Holy 
Ghost has separated for the service of Christ, has 
distinguished from others as men that are offered, 
and that willingly offer themsehes to the temple- 
service ; and concerning them, directions are given to 
those who are competent judges of the sufficiency of 
the abilities, and the sincerity of the inclination, to 
separate them. 

2. Christ's ministers are separated to him and to 
the Holy Ghost ; Separate them to me ; they are to 
be employed in Christ's work, and under the Spirit's 
guidance, to the glory of God the Father. 

3. All that are separated to Christ as his min- 
isters, are separated to work ; Christ keeps no 
servants to be idle. If any man desires the office 
of a bishop, he desires a good work ; that is it which 
he is separated to, to labour in the word and doc- 
trine. They are separated to take pains, not to take 
state. 

4. The work of Christ's ministers, to which they 
are to be separated, is work that is already set- 
tled, and that which idl Christ's ministei's hitherto 
have been called to, and which they themselves 
have first been, by an external call, directed to, and 
have chosen. 

III. Their ordination, pursuant to these orders : 
not to the ministry in general, (Barnabas and Saul 
had both of them been ministers long befoi-e this,) 
but to a particular service in the ministry, which 
had something peculiar in it, and which required 
a fresh commission ; whicli commission Ciod saw fit 
at this time to transmit hy the hands of these firofihets 
and teachers, for the gi\ ing of this direction to the 
church, that teachers should ordain teachers, (for 
prophets we are not now any longer to expect,) and 
that those who have the dispensing nf the oracles of 
Christ committed to them, should, for the benefit of 
posterity, commit the same to faithful men, who shall 
he able also to teach others, 2 Tim. 2.2. So here, 
Simeon, and Lucius, and Manaen. faithful teachers 
at this time in the church of Antioch, 7vhen they had 
fasted and prayed, laid their hands on Baimabas 
and Saul, and sent them away, {v. 3.) according to 
the directions received. Observe, 



1. They praijed for them. When good men are 
going foi-ili ab("ut gtx^d work, they ought to be so- 
lemnly :.nd ])anicularly j.^ayed for, esjjccially by 
their brethren tluit are' their fellow-labourei-s' ani 
fellow-soldiers. 

2. They joined fasting with their prayers, as 
they did in their other ministrations, v. 3. Christ 
has taught us this by his abstaining from bleep, (a 
night-fast, if 1 may so call it,) the night before he 
sent forth . his apostles, that he might spend it in 
prayer. 

3. They laid their hands on them. Hereby, (1.) 
They ga\e them their manumission, dismissitjn, or 
discharge, from the present service they were en- 
gaged in, in the church of Antioch ; acknowledging 
not only that they went off fairly and with consent, 
but honourably and with a good repoit. (2.) They 
implored a blessing upon them in their present un- 
dertaking, bei'ged that- Ciod would be with them, 
and give them success; and in order to tiiis, that 
thry might be Jillvd with the Holy Ghost in their 
work. Thisvery thing is explained c/i. 14. 26. where 
it is said, concerning Paul and Barnabas, that from 
ylntioch they had been recommended to the grace of 
God for the work which they fulfilled. As it was an 
instance of the huniility of "Barnabas and Saul, that 
they submitted to the imposition of the hands of those 
that were their equals, or rather their inferiors ; so 
it was of the good disposition of the other teachers, 
that they did not en\y Barnabas and Saul the honour 
to which they were preferred, but cheerfully com- 
mitted it to them, with hearty prayers for them ; 
and they sent them away with all exjjedition, out of 
a concern for those countries where they were to 
break up fallow ground. 

4. So they, being sent forlli by (lie Holy 
Ghost, departed unto Seleucia ; and iVorn 
thence they sailed to Cyprus. 5. And when 
they were at Salaniis, they preached the 
word of God in the synagogues of the Jews : 
and the3Miad also .Tohn to ///r?V minister. 
6. And w hen they had gone through the 
isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sor- 
cerer, a false prophet, a Jew, \\ hose name 
icas Bar-jesus : 7. A\"hich \\ as with the 
deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a 
prudent man ; who called for Barnabas and 
Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 
8. But Elymas the sorcerer, (for so is his 
name by interpretation,) withstood them, 
seeking to turn away the deputy from the 
faith. 9. Then Saul, (who also is called 
Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his 
eyes on him; 10. And said, O full of all 
subtlety and all mischief, tfwii child of the 
devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt 
thou not cease to pervert the light ways of 
the Lord ? 11. And now, behold, the liand 
of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shall be 
blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And 
immediately there fell on him a mist and a 
darkness ; and he \\ ent about seeking some 
to lead him by the hand. 12. Then the 
deputy, when he saw what was done, be- 
lieved, being astonished at the docliine of 
the Lord. 13. Now when Paul and his 
company loosed iVom Paphos, they came 



120 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



to Perga in Pamphylia : and John depart- 
ing fiou) them returned to Jerusalem. 

In these verses, we have, 

I. A general accouiu of tlie coming of Barnabas 
and Saul to the famous island of Cvpnjs ; and per- 
haps thitherward they steered their couTse, because 
Barnabas was a native of that country, {ch. 4. 36.) 
and he was willing they should have the first fruits 
of his labours, pursuant to his new commission. Ob- 
serve, 

1. Their being sent forth by the Holy Ghost was 
the great thing that encouraged them in this under- 
taking, V. 4. If the Holy Ghost send them forth, 
he will go along with them, strengthen them, carry 
them on in their work, and give them success ; and 
then they fear no colours, but can cheerfully venture 
upon a stormy sea from Antioch, which was now to 
them a quiet harbour. 

2. I'hey came to Seleucia, the sea-port town op- 
posite to Cy])rus, from thence crossed the sea to 
Cyprus ; and in that island the first city they came 
to, was, Salamis, a city on the east side of the island, 
{v. 5.) and when they had sown good seed there, 
thence they went onward through the Lile, {x'. 6.) 
till they came to Paphos, which lay on the western 
coast. 

3. They preached the word of God, wherever 
they came, in the syiiagogues of the Jews ; so far 
were they from excluding them, that they gave 
them the preference, and so left those among them, 
who believed not, inexcusable ; they would have 
gathered them, but they would not. They did not 
act clandestinely, nor preacli the Messiah to others 
unknown to them, but laid their doctrine open to the 
censure of the rulers of their synagogues, who might, 
if they had any thing to say, object against it. Nor 
would they have acted separately, but in concert 
with them, if they had not driven them out from 
them, and from their synagogues. 

4. They had John to their minister ; not their ser- 
vant in common things, but their assistant in the 
things of God ; either to prepare their way in places 
where they designed to come, or to carry on their 
work in places where they had begun it, or to con- 
verse familiarly with those to whom they preached 
publicly, and explain things to them ; and such a 
one might be many ways of use to them, especially 
in a strange country. 

II. A particular account of their encounter with 
Elymas the sorcerer, whom they met with at Pa/ihos, 
where the governor resided ; a place famous for a 
temple built to Venus there, thence called Pafihia 
Venus ; and therefore there was more than ordinary 
need that the Son of God should be manifested to de- 
stroy the works of the devil. 

1. There the defiuly, a Gentile, Scrgius Paulus 
by name, encouraged the apostles, and was willing 
to hear their message. He was governor of the coun- 
try, under the Roman emperor ; proconsul or pro- 
prxtor, such a one as we should call lord lieutcTiant 
of the island ; he had the character of a firudent 
man, an intelligent, considerate man, that was ruled 
by i-eason, not passion or prejudice ; which appeared 
by this, that, naving a character of Barnabas and 
Saul, he sent for them, and desired to hear the word 
of God. Note, That which we hear has a tendency 
to lead us to (iod, it is prudence to desire to hear 
moi-e of it. Those are wise people, howevei- they 
may be ranked among the foolish of this world, who 
areinquisitiveaftcrthemindand willof God. Though 
he was a great man, and a man in authority, and the 
preachers of the p,ospcl were men that made no figure, 
yet, if they have a message from (iod, let him know 
what it is, and if it appear ^o be so, he is ready to 
receive it. 

?. There Elymas, a Jew, u sorcerer, opposed them, 



and did all he could to obstruct their progress. This 
justified thfc apostles in turning to the Gentiles, that 
this Jew was so malignant against them. 

(1.) This Elymas was a pretender to the gift or 
firophecy, a sorcerer, a false-prophet ; one that 
would be taken for a divine, because he was skilled 
in the arts of divination ; was a conjurer, and took on 
him to tell people their fortune, and to discover 
things lost, and probably was in league with the 
devil for that yjurpose ; his name was Bar-Jesus — 
the son of Joshua ; it signifies the son of salvation ; 
but the Syriac calls him, Bar-shoma — the son oj 
pride ; Jilius inflationis — the son of injiammatiori. 

(2.) He was hanging on at court, was with the de- 
puty of the country ; it does not appear that the 
deputy called for him, as he did for Barnabas and 
Saul ; but he thrust himself ujjon him, aimiiig, no 
doubt, to make a hand of him, and get money by 
him. 

(3.) He made it his business to withstand Barna- 
bas and Saul, as the magicians of Egyfit, in Pha- 
raoh's court, withstood Moses ana ylaron, 2 Tim. 3. 
8. He set up himself to be a messenger from hea- 
ven, and denied that they were. And thus he sought 
to tur?i away the de/tuty from the faith, {v. 8.) to 
keep him from receiving the gospel, which he saw 
him inclined to do. Note, Satan is in a special man- 
ner busy with great men and men in power, to keep 
them from being religious ; because lie knows that 
their example, whether good or bad, will have an 
influence upon many. And those who are any way 
instrumental to prejudice people against the truths 
and ways of Christ, are doing the de\ il's work. 

(4.) Saul (who is here for the first t\me called 
Paul, and never after Saul J fell upon him for this 
with a holy indignation. Saul,-who also is called 
Paul, V, 9. Saul was his name as he was a Hebrew, 
and of the tribe of Bmjamin ; Paul was his name as 
he was a citizen of Home. Hitherto we have had 
him mostly conversant among the Jew s, and there- 
fore called by his Jewish name ; Init now when he is 
sent forth among the Gentiles, he is called by his 
Roman name, to put somewhat of a vc])ul:ation upon 
him. in the Roman cities ; Paulus being a very com- 
mon name among them. But, some think, he was 
never called Paul till now that he w;is instrumental 
in the conversion of Sergius Paulus to the faith cf 
Christ, and that he took that name Paulus as a 
memorial of that victory obtained by the gospel of 
Christ ; as among the Remans he that had conquer- 
ed a countiT, took his denomination from it, as Ger- 
nuinicus, Britannicus, Jfricanus ; or rather, Ser- 
gius Paulus himself gave him the name Paulus, in 
token of his favour and respect to him, as Vespasian 
gave his name Flavius to Jcsephus the Jew. Now 
of Paul it is said, 

[1.] That he \\".\.'> filled with the Holy Ghost upon 
this occasion, filled with the holy zeal against a pro- 
fessed enemy of Chi-ist, which was one of the graces 
of the Holy Ghost ; a ypirit of burning ; filled with 
power to denounce the wrath of God against him, 
which was one of the gifts of the Hi ly Ghost ; a spi- 
rit ofjudgmrnt. He felt a more than oi-dinary fer- 
vour m his mind, as the prophet did when he was 
///// of power by the Spirit of the Lord ; (Mic. 5. 8.) 
and anotlier prophet when \m face was made harder 
than flint; (Ezck. 3. 9.) and another when hisn;oi/^/j 
was made like a sharp sword, Isa. •19. 2. A\'hat 
Paul said, did not come fn^m any personal resent- 
ment, but from the strong impressions which the 
Holy Ghost made upon his spirit. 

[2.] He set his eys upon him, to fa( e him down, 
and to shew a holy boldness, in rppositic n to his 
wicked impudence. He set his eyes u])rn him, aa 
an indication that the eye of the heart-sraiching God 
was u))on him, and saw thrcu:4h and thrc ueh h'm ; 
ay, that tlie face of the Lord was cgci:.'.' hijn, V" 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



12'J 



34. 16. He fixed his eyes upon him, to see if he 
could discern in his countenance any marks of re- 
morse for what he had done; which, if he could have 
discerned the least sign of, it had prevented the en- 
suing doom. 

[3.] He gave him his true character, not in pas- 
sion, but by the Holy Ghost, who knows men better 
than they know themselves, v. 10. He describes 
him to be. 

First, An agent for Af//; and such there have been 
upon this earth (the seat of the war between (he seed 
of the vjoman and of the serjient ) ever since Cain, 
•who lias of that nvicked one, an incarnate devil, slew 
his brother, for no other reason than because his own 
works tvere evil, and his brother's righteous. This 
Elymas, thou;;;h called Bar-jesus — a son of Jesus, 
was really a child of the devil, bore his image, did 
his lusts, and served his interests, John 8. 44. In 
two things he resembled the devil, as a child does 
his father. 1. In craft ; the serpent was more subtle 
than any beast of the field; (Gen. 3. 1.) and Elymas, 
though void of all wisdom, was full of subtlety, ex- 
pert in all the arts of deceiving men, and imposing 
upon them. 2. In malice ; he was full of all 7nis- 
chirf; a spiteful, ill-conditioned man ; and a sworn 
implacable enemy to God and goodness. Note, A 
fiilness of subtlety and mischief together, make a 
man indeed a child of the devil. 

Secondly, An adversary to heaven ; if he be a child 
of the devil, it follows of course that he is an ertemy 
to all righteousness, for the devil is so. Note, Those 
that are enemies to the doctrine of Christ, are ene- 
mies to all righteousness, for in it all righteousness 
is summed up and fulfilled. 

[4. ] He charged upon him his present crime^ and 
expostulated with him upon it ; " JVilt thou not cease 
to fiervert the right ways of the Lord, to misrepre- 
sent them, to put false colours upon them, and so to 
discourage people from entering into them, and 
walking in them ?" Note, First, The ways of the 
Lord are right: they are all so, they are perfectly 
so. The ways of the Lord Jesus are right, the only 
right ways to heaven and happiness. Seco7idly, 
There are those who pervert these right ways, who 
not only wander out of these ways themselves, (as 
Elihu's penitent, who owns, / have perverted that 
tvhich was right, and it prof ted me not, J but mis- 
lead others, and suggest to them unjust prejudices 
against these ways : as if the doctrine of Christ were 
uncertain and precarious, the laws of Christ unrea- 
sonable and impracticable, and the service of Christ 
unpleasant and unprofitable ; which is an unjust per- 
verting of the right ways of the Lord, and making 
them to seem crooked ways. Thirdly, Those who 
pervert the right ways of the Lord, are commonly 
so hardened in it, that though the equity of those 
ways be set before them by the most jjowerful and 
commanding evidence, yet they will not cease to do 
it. Etsi suaseris, non persuaseris — You may advise, 
but you will never persuade ; they will have it their 
own wav, they have loved st7-a?2gers, and after them 
they will go. 

[5.] He denounced the judgment of God upon 
him, in a present blindness ; {v. 11.) *' And now be- 
hold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, a righteous 
hand. God is now about to lay hands on thee, and 
make tliee his prisoner, for thou art taken in arms 
against him ; thou shah be blind, not seeing the sun 
for a season." This was designed both for the 
proof of liis crime, as it was a miracle wrought to 
confirm the right ways of the Lord, and consequently 
to shew the wickedness of him who would not cease 
to pervert them ; as also for the punishment of his 
crime. It was a suitable punishment ; he shut his 
eyes, the eyes of his mind, against the light of the 
(ros/iel, and therefore justly were the eyes of his 
'jndv shut against the light of the sun ; he sought to 

Vol. VI -R 



blind the deputy, as an agent for the god of this 
ivorld, (who blindeth the minds of them that believe 
not, lest the light of the gospel should shine unto them, 
2 Cor. 4. 4.) and therefore is himself struck blind • 
yet it was a moderate punishment, he was only struck 
blind, when he might most justly have been struck 
dead ; and that it Avas only for a season ; if he will 
repent, and gix<e glory to God, by making confes- 
sion, his sight shall be restored ; nay, it should seem, 
though he do not, yet his sight shall be restored, to 
try if he will be led to repentance, either by the 
judgments of God or by his mercies. 

[6.] This judgment was immediately executed ; 
there fell on him a mist and a darkness, as on the 
Sodomites when they persecuted Lot, and on the 
Syrians when they persecuted Elisha ; this silenced 
him presently, filled him with confusion, and was 
an effectual confutation of all he said against the 
doctrine of Christ. Let not him any more pretend 
to be a guide to the deputy's conscience, who is him 
self struck blind. It was also an earnest to him of a 
much sorer ptmishment if he repent not ; for he is 
one of those wandering stars to whom is reserved the 
blackness of darkness for ever, Jude 13. Elymas did 
himself proclaim the tiMth of the miracle, when he 
went about seeking some to lead him by the hand ; 
and where now is all his skill in sorcery, upon which 
he had so much valued himself, when he can neither 
find his way himself, nor find a friend that will be 
so kind as to lead him ! 

3. Notwithstanding all the endeavours of Elymas 
to turn away the deputy from the faith, he was 
brought to believe, and this miracle, wrought upon 
the magician himself, (like the boils of Egypt, which 
were upon the magicians, so that 'hey could riot stand 
before Moses, Exod. 9. 11.) contributed to it. The 
deputy was a very sensible man, and observed some- 
thing uncommon, and which spake its divine origi- 
nal, 

(1. ) In Paul's preaching ; he was astonished at the 
doctrine of the Lord, the Lord Christ, the doctrine 
that is from him, the discoveries he has made of the 
Father ; the doctrine that is concerning him, his per- 
son, natures, offices, undertaking. Note, The doc- 
trine of Christ has a great deal in it that is astonish- 
ing ; and the more we know of it, the more reason 
we shall see to wonder and stand amazed at it. 

(2. ) In this miracle ; when he savj what was done, 
and how much Paul's power transcended that of the 
magician, and how plainly Elymas was baffled and 
confounded, he believed. It is not said that he was 
baptized, and so made a complete convert, but it is 
probable that he was. Paul would not do his l)usi- 
ness by the halves ; as for God, his work is perfect. 
\\'hen he became a christian, he neither laid dfown 
his government, nor was turned out of it, but we 
may suppose, as a christian magistrate, by his influ 
ence helped very much to propagate Christianity in 
that island. The tradition of the Roman church, 
which has taken care to find bishopricks for all the 
eminent converts we read of in the Acts, has made 
this Sergius Paulus Bishop of Narbon in France, left 
there bv Paul in his journey to Spain. 

III. Their departiire from the island of Cyprus. 
It is probable that they did a great deal more there 
than is recorded, where an account is given only of 
that which was cxtraordinar)' — the conversion of the 
deputv. When \.hc\ had done what they had to do, 

1. They quitted the country, and went to Perga. 
Those that went, were Paul, and his company, 
which, it is probable, was increased in Cyprus, many 
being desirous to accompany him. A yft-^^ftrK oi ntgi 
Tcir nluxti' — Tliey (hat were about Paul, loosed from 
Paphos ; which supposes that he went too ; but such 
an affection had his new friends for him, that they 
were always about him, and by their good will would 
be never from him. 



130 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



2. Then John Mark quitted them, and returned 
to Jerusalem, without the consent of Paul and Bar- 
nabas ; either he did not like the work, or he wanted 
to go see his mother. It was his fault, and we shall 
hear of it again. 

1 4. But when they departed from Perga, 
they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went 
into the synagogue on the sabbath-day, and 
sat down. 1 5. And after the reading of the 
law and the prophets, the rulers of the sy- 
nagogue sent unto them, saying. Ye men 
and brethren, if ye have any word of ex- 
hortation for the people, say on. 1 6. Then 
Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand 
said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, 
give audience. 17. The God of this peo- 
ple of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted 
the people when they dwelt as strangers in 
the land of Egypt, and with an high arm 
brought he them out of it. 18. And about 
the time of forty years suffered he their 
manners in the wilderness. 1 9. And when 
he had destroyed seven nations in the land 
of Canaan, he divided their land to them 
by lot. 20. And after that he gave unto 
them judges about the space of four hun- 
dred and fifty years, until Samuel the pro- 
phet. 21. And afterward they desired a 
king : and God gave unto them Saul the 
son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, 
by the space of forty years. 22. And when 
he had removed him, he raised up unto 
them David to be their king ; to whom also 
he gave testimony, and said, I have found 
David the son of Jesse, a man after mine 
own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 
23. Of this man's seed hath God, according 
to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, 
Jesus : 24. When John had first preached 
before his coming the baptism of repen- 
tance to all the people of Israel. 25. And 
as John fulfilled his course, he said, Who 
think ye that T am ? I am not he. But, 
behold, there comcith one after me, whose 
shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 
26. Men cmd brethren, children of the stock 
of Abraham, and whosoever among you 
feareth God, to you is the word of this sal- 
vation sent. 27. For they that dwell at 
Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they 
knew him not, nor yet the voices of the 
prophets which are read every sabbath-day, 
they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 
28. And though they found no cause of 
death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he 
should be slain. 29. And when they had 
fulfilled all that was written of him, they 
took him down from the tree, and laid him 
in a sepulchre. 30. But God raised him 
from the dead : 31. And he was seen many 



days of them which came up with him from 
Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses 
unto the people. 32. And we declare unto 
you glad tidings, how that the promise 
which was made unto the fathers, 33. God 
hath fulfilled the same unto us their chil- 
dren, in that he hath raised up Jesus again ; 
as it is also written in the second psalm, 
Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten 
thee. 34. And as concerning that he raised 
him up from the dead, 7iow no more to re 
turn to corruption, he said on this wise, 1 
will give you the sure mercies of David. 
35. Wherefore he saith also in another 
psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy 
One to see corruption. 36. For David, 
after he had served his own generation by 
the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid 
unto his fathers, and saw corruption : 37. 
But he, whom God raised again, saw no 
corruption. 38. Be it known unto you 
therefore, men and brethren, that through 
this man is preached unto you the forgive- 
ness of sins : 39. And by him all that be- 
lieve are justified from all things, from 
which ye could not be justified by the law 
of Moses. 40. Beware therefore, lest that 
come upon you, which is ^oken of in the 
prophets; 41. Behold, ye despisers, and 
wonder, and perish : for I work a work in 
your days, a work which ye shall in no 
wise believe, though a man declare it unto 
you. 

Perga in Pamphylia was a noted place, especially 
for a temple there erected to the goddess Diana, yet 
nothing at all is I'elated of what Paul and Barnabas 
did there, only that thither they came, {v. 13.) and 
thence they dejiarted, v, 14. But the history of the 
apostles' travels, as that of Christ's, passes by many 
things worthy to have been recorded, because if all 
should have been written, the world could not nave 
contained the books. 

But the next place we find them in, is, another 
Antioch, said to oe in Pisidia, to distinguish it from 
that Antioch in Syria, from whence they were sent 
out. Pisidia was a province of the Lesser Asia, bor- 
dering upon Pamphylia ; this Antioch, it is likely, 
was the metropolis of it ; abundance of Jews lived 
there, and to tliem the gospel ivas to be first preach- 
ed ; and Paul's sermon to them is what we have in 
these verses, which, it is likely, is the substance of 
what was prcaclied by the apostles generally to the 
Jews in all places ; for in dealing with them, the 
proper way was to shew them how the New Testa- 
ment, whicli they would have them to receive, ex- 
actly agreed with the Old Testament, which they 
not only received, but were zealous for. 

We have here, 

I. The appearance which Paul and Barnabas 
made in a religious assembly of the Jews at yJntioch, 
V. 14. Though they had lately had such good sue 
cess with a Roman deputy, yet, when they came to 
Antioch, they did not inquire for the chief magis- 
trate, or make their court to him, but they applied 
themselves to the Jews ; which is a fui'ther proof of 
their good affection to them, and their desire of their 
welfare. 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



131 



1. They observed their time of worship, on the 
sabbath-day, the Jewish sabbath. The first day of 
the week they observed among themselves as a 
Christian sabbath ; but if they will meet the Jews, 
it must be on the seventh-day sabbath ; which 
therefore, upon such occasions, they did as yet 
sometimes observe. For though it was by the death 
of Christ that the ceremonial law died, yet it was 
in the ruins of Jerusalem that it was to be buried ; 
and therefore, though the morality of the fourth 
commandment was entirely transferred to the chris- 
tian sabbath, yet it was not incongruous to join with 
the Jews in their sabbath-sanctification. 

2. They met them in their place of worship, in 
the synagogue. Note, Sabbath-days should be kept 
holy in solemn assemblies, they are instituted chiefly 
for public worship ; the sabbath-day is a holy con- 
vocation, and for that reason no servile work must 
be done therein. Paul and Barnabas were stran- 
gers ; but wherever we come, we must inquire out 
God's faithful worshippers, and join with them, (as 
these apostles here did,) as those that desire to keep 
up a communion with all saints ; though they were 
strangers, yet they were admitted into the syna- 
gogue, and to sit down there. Care should be taken 
m places of public worship, that strangers be ac- 
commodated, even the poorest ; for those we know 
nothing else of, we know this, that they have pre- 
cious souls, which our charity binds us to be con- 
cerned for. 

II. The invitation given them to preach. 

1. The usual service of the synagogue was per- 
formed ; X"^'- 1^-) ^'''^ ^^'-^^^ ^''^'^ ^^^ firofihets were 
read, a portion of each, the lessons for the jday. 
Note, When we come together to worshij) God, we 
must do it not only by prayer and praise, but by the 
reading and hearing of the word of God ; hereby we 
give him the glory due to his naine, as our Lord and 
Lawgiver. 

2. When that was done, they were asked, by the 
rulers of the synagogue, to give them a sermon ; 
(t'. 15.) they sent a messenger to them with this 
respectful message, Men and brethren, if ye have 
any word of exhortation for the people, say on. It 
is probable that the rulers of tlie synagogue had 
met with them, and been in private conversation 
with them before ; and if they had not an affection 
to the gospel, yet they had at least the curiosity to 
hear Paul preach ; and therefore, not only gave him 
permission, but begged the favour of him, that he 
would speak a word of exhortation to the people. 
Note, (1. ) The bare reading of the scriptures in the 
public assemblies is not sufficient, but they should 
be expounded, and the people exhorted out of them. 
This is spreading the net, and assisting people in 
doing that which is necessary to the makmg of the 
word profitable to them — that is, the applying of it 
to themselves. (2.) Those that preside, and have 
power, in public assemblies, should provide for a 
word of exhortation to the people, whenever they 
come together. (3. ) Sometimes a word of exhorta- 
tion from a strange minister may be of great use to 
the people, provided he be well approved. It is 
likely, Paul did often preach in the synagogue, Avhen 
he was not thus invited to it by the rulers of the 
synagogues ; for he often preached with much con- 
tention, 1 Thess. 2. 2. But these were more noble, 
more generous, than the rulers of the synagogues 
commonly were. 

III. The sermon Paul preached in the synagogue 
of the Jews, at the invitation of the rulers of the 
synagogue. He gladly embraced the opportunity 
given him tc preach Christ to his countrj'^men the 
Jews ; he did not object to them, that he was a 
stranger, and that it was none of his business ; nor 
object to himself, that he may get ill-will by preach- 
ing Christ among the Jews ; but stood up, as one pre- 



pared and determined to speak, and beckor;ed with 
nis hand, to excite and prepare them to hear ; he 
waved his hand as^n orator, not only desirin;.;; silence 
and attention, but endeavouring to move affection, 
and to shew himself in earnest. Perhaps, upon the 
moving of them to gizie an exhortation to the people, 
there were those in the synagogue, that were ready 
to mutiny against the rulers, and opposed the tolera- 
tion of Paul's preaching, and that occasioned some 
tumult and commotion, which Paul endeavoured to 
quiet by that decent motion of his hand ; as also by 
his modest desire of a patient impartial hearing ; 
" Men of Israel, that are Jews by hirih, and ye that 
fear God, that are proselyted to the Jewish religion, 

five audience ; let me beg your attention a little, for 
have something to say to you, which concerns your 
everlasting peace, and would not say it in vain. " 

Now this excellent sei-mon is recorded, to shew 
that those who preached the gospel to the Gentiles, 
did it not till they had first used their utmost endea- 
vours with the Jews, to persuade them to come in, 
and take the benefit of it ; and that they had no pre- 
judice at all against the Jewish nation, nor any de- 
sire that they should perish, but rather that they 
should turn arid live. Every thing is touched in 
this sermon, that might be proper, either to con- 
vince the judgment or insinuate into the affections 
of the Jews, to prevail with them to receive and em- 
brace Christ as the promised Messiah. 

1. He owns them to be God's favourite people, 
whom he had taken into special relation to himself, 
and for whom he had done great things. Probably, 
the Jews of the dispersion, that lived in other coun- 
tries, being more in danger of mingling with the na- 
tions, were more jealous of their peculiarity than 
those that lived in their own land were ; and there- 
fore Paul is here very careful to take notice of it, to 
their honour. 

(1.) That the God of the whole earth was, in a 
particular manner, the God of this people Israel, a 
God in covenant with them, and that he had given 
them a revelation of his mind and will, such as he 
had not given to any other nation or people ; so that 
hereby they were distinguished from, and dignified 
above, all their neighbours, having peculiar pre- 
cepts to be governed by, and peculiar promises to 
depend upon. 

(2.) That he had chosen their fathers to be his 
friends: Abraham was called Me/r/enf/q/" Corf; to 
be his prophets, by whom he would reveal his mind 
to his church, and to be the trustees of his covenant 
with the church. He puts them in mind of this, to 
let them know that the reason why God favoured 
them, though undeserving and ill deserving, was, 
because he would adhere to the choice he had made 
of their fathers, Deut. 7. 7, 8. They were beloved 
purely for the fathers' sake, Rom. 11. 28. 

(3.) That he had exalted that people, and put a 
great deal of honour upon them, had advanced them 
into a people, and raised them from nothing, then, 
when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, 
and had nothing in them to recommend them to the 
divine favour. They ought to remember this, and 
to infer from hence, that God was no debtor to 
them ; for it was ex mero motu — out of his mere 
good pleasure, and not upon a valuable considera- 
tion, that they had the grant of the divine favour; 
and therefore it was revocable at pleasure ; and God 
did them no wrong, if he at length plucked up the 
hedge of their peculiarity. But they were debtors 
to him, and obliged to receive such further discove- 
nes as he should make of his will, and to admit such 
further additions as he should make to his church. 

(4.) That he had with a high hand brought them 
out of Egypt, where they were not only strangers, 
but captives ; had delivered them at the expense of 
a great many miracles, both of mercy to them and 



132 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



judgment on their oppressors ; (signs, and wonders, 
Deut. 4. 34. ) and at the expense of a great many 
lives, all the Jirst-bom of Egyfit^ Pharaoh, and all 
his host, in the Red Sea ; I gave Egypt for thy ran- 
som, gave men for thee, Isa. 43. 3, 4. 

(5.) That he had suffered their manners forty 
years in the wilderness, V. \S. ''ETfiTro^^ipna-iv. Some 
think, it should be read, ir^ooo<;>i^iia-iy — he educated 
them, because that is the word the Septuagint use 
concerning tlie fatherly care God took of that peo- 
ple, Deut. 1. 31. Both may be included ; for, [1.] 
God made a great deal of provision for them for 
forty years in the wilderness : miracles were their 
daily bread, and kept them from starving ; they lack- 
ed not ariy thing. [2.] He exercised a great deal of 
patience with them ; they were a provoking, mur- 
muring, unbelieving people ; and yet he bore with 
them, did not deal with them as they deserved, but 
suffered his anger many a time to be turned away by 
the prayer and intercession of Moses. So many years 
as we have each of us lived in this world, we must own 
that God has thus been as a tender Father to us, has 
supplied our wants, has /erf us all our life long unto 
this day, has been indulgent to us, a God of pardons, 
(as he was to Israel, Neh. 9. 17.) and not extreme 
to mark what we have done amiss ; we have tried 
his patience, and yet not tired it. Let not the Jews 
insist too much upon the privileges of their peculia- 
rity, for they had forfeited them a thousand times. 

(6.) That he had put them in possession of the 
land of Canaan ; (y. 19. ) JVhen he had destroyed se- 
ven nations in the latid of Canaan, that were doom- 
ed to be rooted out to make room for them, he di- 
vided their land to them by lot, and put them in 
possession of it. This was a signal favour of God to 
them, and he owns that hereby a great honour was 
put upon them, which he would not in the least de- 
rogate from. 

(r.) That he had raised up men, spirited from 
heaven, to deliver them out of the hands of those 
that invaded their rights, and oppressed them after 
their settlement in Canaan, v. 20, 21. [1.] Heg-cf e 
them judges, men qualified for public service, and, 
oy an immediate impulse upon their spirits, called 
to it, firo re nata — as the occasion required. Though 
they were a provoking people, and were never in 
servitude but their sin brought them to it, yet upon 
their petition, a deliverer was raised up. The cri- 
tics find some difficulty in computing these four hun- 
dred and fifty years. From the deliverance out of 
Egyfit, to David's expulsion of the Jebusites from 
the strong-hold of Zion, which completed the cast- 
ing o\it of the heathen nations, was four hundred 
and fifty years ; and most of that time they were 
under judges. Others thus ; The government of 
the judges, from the death of Joshua to the death 
of F,li, was just three hundred thirty-nine years, but 
it is said to be [«?] ?is\t were four hundred and /iffy 
years; because the years of their servitude to the 
several nations tliat oppressed them, though really 
they were included in the years of the judges, are 
yet mentioned in the history as if they had been dis- 
tinct from them. Now these, all put togetlier, make 
one hundred and eleven years, and those added to 
the three hundred thirty-nine, make them four hun- 
dred and _fifty ; as so manv, though not really so 
many. [2.] He governed them by a firofihet, Sa- 
muel, a man divinely inspired to preside in their af- 
fairs. [3.] He afterward, at their request, set a king 
over t fie m, {v. 21.) Saul, the so?i ofCis. Samuel's 
govenmient and his lasted forty years ; which was 
a kind of transition from the theocracy to the kingly 
government. [4.] At last, he made David their 
king, V. 22. Jl'hen (lod had remox<ed Saul, for his 
mal-administration, he rained ufi unto them David 
to be their king, and made a covenant of royalty 
with him, and with his seed. Then, when he had 



removed one king, he did not leave them as sheep 
without a shepherd, but soon raised up another ; 
raised him up from a mean and low estate, raised 
him u/i on high, 2 Sam. 23. 1. He quotes the testi 
mony God gave concerning him, First, that his 
choice was divine; I have found David, Ps, 89. 20. 
God himself pitched upon him. Finding implies 
seeking; as if God had ransacked all the families 
of Israel to find a man fit for his purpose, and this 
was he. Secondly, That his character was divine ; 
a man after my own heart ; such a one as I would 
have ; one on whom the image of God is stamped, 
and therefore one in wliom God is well pleased, and 
whom he approves. This character was given of 
him before he was first anointed, 1 Sam. 13. 14. 
I'he Eord hath sought him out a man after his own- 
heart, such a one as he would have. Inirdly, That 
his conduct was di\ine, and under a divine direction ; 
He shall fulfil all my will. He shall desire and en- 
deavour to do the will of God, and shall be enabled 
to do it, and employed in the doing of it, and go 
through with it. 

Now all this seems to shew not only the special 
favour of God to the people of Israel, (which the 
apostle is very willing to oblige them with the ac- 
knowledgment of,) but the further favours of ano- 
ther nature, which he designed them, and which 
were now, by the preaching of the gospel, offered to 
them. Their deliverance out of Egypt, and settle- 
ment in Canaan, were types and jigures of good 
things to come ; the changes of their government 
shewed that it made nothing perfect, and therefore 
must give way to the spiritual kingdom of the Mes- 
siah, which was now in the setting up, and which, 
if they would admit it, and submit to it, would be 
the glory of their people Israel ; and therefore they 
needed not conceive any jealousy at all of the preach- 
ing of the gospel, as if it tended in the least to damage 
the true excellencies of the Jewish clmrch. 

2. He gives them a full account of our Lord Jesus, 
passing from David to the Son of David, and shews 
that this Jesus is his promised seed ; {y. 25. ) Of this 
7nan's seed, from that 7-oot of Jesse, from that m'ati 
after God's own heart, hath God, according to his 
pj'o?nise, 7'aised iinto Israel a Saviour, Jesus, who 
carries salvation in his name. How welcome should 
the preaching of the gospel of Christ be to the Jews, 
and how should they embrace it, as well worthy of 
all accefuation when it brought them the tidings, 
(1. ) Of a Saviour, to deliver them out of the hands 
of their enemies, as the judges of old, who were 
therefore called saviours ; bvt this a Saviour to do 
that for them, which, it apjiears by the history, 
those could not do — to save them from their sins, 
their worst enemies. (2.) A Saviour of God's rais 
ing up, that has his commission from heaven. (3."^ 
Raised up to be a Saviour unto Israel, to them in 
the first place ; he was sent to bless them ; so far was 
the gospel from designing the rejection of Israel, 
that it designed the gathering of them ! (4. ) Raised 
up of the seed of David, that ancient, royal family, 
which the people of Israel gloried so much in, and 
whicli at this time, to the great disgrace of the whole 
nation, was buried in obscurity. It ought to be a 
great satisfaction to them, that God hud raised up 
this horn of salvation for them in the house ofhisser- 
vajit David, Luke 1." 69. (5.) Raised up according 
to his promise, the promise to David, (Ps. 132. 11.) 
the jjromise to the Old Testament church, in the 
latter times of it ; I will raise unto David a righte- 
ous branch, Jcr. 23. 5. This promise was it to 
which the twelve tribes hoped to come; {ch. 26.7.) 
why then should they entertain it so coldly, now 
that it was brought to them ? 

Now, concerning this Jesus, he tells them, 

[1.] That John the Baptist was his harliinger and 
forenmner; that great man, whom all acknowledg 



THE ACTS, XIIT. 



1:3 



cd to be a jDrophet. Let them not say that the Mes- 
siah's coming was a surprise upon them, and that 
that might excuse them if they took time to consi- 
der whether they should entertain him or no ; for 
they had sufficient warmng by John, who preached 
before his coming, v. 24. Two things he did, 

Inrst, He made way for his entrance, by preach- 
ing the bafitism of refientance, not to a tew select 
disciples, but to all the fieofile of Israel ; he shewed 
them their sins, warned theyn of the nvrath to come, 
called them to re/ientance, and to bring- forth fruits 
meet for refientance, and bound those to this, who 
were willing to be bound by the solemn rite or sign 
of baptism ; and by this he made ready a people 
prepared for the Lord Jesus, to whom his grace 
would be acceptable, when they were thus brought 
to know themselves. 

Secondly, He gave notice of his approach ; {v. 25. ) 
j^a he fulfilled his course, when he was going on vi- 
gorously in his work, and had had powerful suc- 
cess in it, and an established interest; "Now," 
saith he to those that attended his ministry, *' Jl ho 
think ye that lam ? What notions have you of me, 
what expectations from me ? You may be thinking 
that I am the Messiah, whom you expect ; but you 
are mistaken, I am not he: (see John 1. 20.) but he 
is at the door ; behold, there cometh one immediately 
after me, who will so far exceed me upon all ac-. 
counts, that I am not vjorlhy to be employed in the 
meanest office about him, no, not to help him on 
and off with his shoes ; ivhose shoes of his feet I am 
not worthy to unloose ; and you may guess who that 
must be." 

[2. ] That the rulers and people of the Jews, who 
should have welcomed him, and been his willing, 
forward, faithful subjects, were his persecutors and 
murderers. When the apostles preach Christ as 
the Saviour, they are so far from concealing his 
ignominious death, and drawing a veil over it, that 
they always /ireach Christ crucified, yea, and (though 
that added much to the reproach of his sufferings) 
crucified by his own people, by thejn that dwelt in 
Jerusalem, the holy city : the royal city, and their 
rulers, v. 27. 

First, Their sin was, that though they found no 
cause of death in him, could not prove him, no, nor 
had any colour to suspect him, guilty of any crime, 
(the judge himself that tried him, when he had 
heard all they could say against him, declared he 
found no fault in him,) yet they desired Pilate that 
he might be slain, {v. 28.) and presented their ad- 
dress against Christ with such fury and outrage, 
that they compelled Pilate to crucify him, not only 
contrary to his inclination, but contrary to his con- 
science ; they condemned him to so great a death, 
though they could not convict him of the least sin. 
Paul cannot charge this upon his hearers, as Peter 
did ; {ch, 2. 23.) You have with wicked hands cruci- 
fied and slain him ; for these, though Jews, were far 
enough off; but he charges it upon the Jews at Jeru- 
salem, and the rulers, to shew what little reason 
those Jews of the dispersion had to be so jealous for 
the honour of their nation as they were, when it had 
brought upon itself such a load and stain of guilt as 
this, and how justly they might have been cut off 
trom all benefit by the Messiah, who had thus 
abused him, and yet they were not ; but, notwith- 
standing all this, the preaching of this gospel shall 
begin at Jeiiisalem. 

Secondly, The reason of this was, because they 
knew him not, v. 27. They knew not who he was, 
nor what errand he came into the world upon ; for 
if they had known, they would not have crucified the 
Lord of glory. Christ owned this in extenuation of 
their crime ; They know not what they do : and so 
did Peter ; I wot, that through ignorance ye did this, 
ch 3. 17. It was also because they knew not the 



voice of the prophets, though they heard them read 
every sabbath-day ; they did not understand nor 
consider that it was foretold that the Messiah should 
suffer, or else they would never have been the in- 
struments of his suffering. Note, Many that read 
the prophets, do not know the voice of the prophets, 
do not understand the meaning of the scriptures ; 
they have the sound of the gospel in their ears, but 
not the sense of them in their heads, or savour of 
them in their hearts. And therefore men do not 
know Christ, nor know how to carvy it toward him, 
because they do not know the voice of the prophets, 
who testified beforehand concei-ning Christ. 

Thirdly, God overruled them for the accomplish- 
ment of the prophecies of the Old Testament ; Be- 
cause they knew not the voice of the prophets, which 
warned them not to touch God's Anointed, they ful- 
filled them in condemning ///?« ; for so it was writ- 
ten, that Messiah the Prince shall be cut off; but not 
for himself. Note, It is possible that men may be 
fulfilling scripture-prophecies, even when they are 
breaking scripture-precepts ; particularly in the per- 
secution of the church, as in the persecution of 
Christ. And this justifies the reason which is some- 
times given for the obscurity of scripture-prophecies, 
that if they were too plain and obvious, the accom- 
plishment' of them would thereby be prevented. 
So Paul saith here, Because they knew not the voice 
of the prophets, therefore they have fulfilled them; 
which implies that if they had under^tocd them, 
they would not have fulfilled them. 

Fourthly, All that was foretold concerning the 
sufferings of the Messiah, was fulfilled in Christ: 
iy. 29.) When they had fulfilled all the vc<X that 
was written ofhi?n, even to the gi^■ing of him vine- 
gar to drink "in his thirst, then they fulfilled what 
was foretold concerning his being buried — they took 
him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 
This is taken notice of here, as that which made his 
resurrection the more illustrious. Christ was sepa- 
rated from this world, as those that are buried have 
nothing m.ore to do with this world, nor this world 
with them. And therefore our complete separation 
from sin is represcrited by our being buried with 
Christ. And a good christian will be willing to be 
buried alive with Christ. They laid him in a se- 
pulchre, and thought thev had him fast. 

[3.] That he rose again from the dead, and saw 
no corruption ; this was the great truth that was to 
be preached ; for it is the main pillar by which the 
whole fabric of the gospel is supported, and there- 
fore he insists largely upon this, and shews, 

First, That he rose bv consent ; when he was im- 
prisoned in the grave foi- our debt, he did not break 
prison, but had a fair and legal discharge from the 
arrest he was under ; {v. 30.) God raised him from 
the dead ; sent an angel on purpose to roll away the 
stone from the prison-door, retm-ned him the spirit 
which at his death he had committed into the hands 
of his Father, and quickened him by the Holy Ghost. 
His enemies laid him in a sepulchre, with design he 
should always lie there ; but God said, A'o ; and it 
was soon seen whose words should stand, his or 
their's. 

Secondly, That there was sufficient proof of his 
being risen; {v. 31.) He was seen many days, in 
divers places, upon divers occasions, by them that 
were most intimatelv acquainted with him ; for they 
came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, were 
his constant attendants, and they are his witnesses 
unto the people ; they were appointed to be so, have 
attested the thing many a time, and are ready to at- 
test it though they were to die for the same. Paul 
says nothing of his own seeing him, (which he men- 
tions 1 Cor. 15. 8.) because it was in a vision, which 
was more convincing to himself than it could bt 
when produced to others. 



134 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



Thirdly, That the resurrection of Christ was the 
performance of the promise made to the patriarchs ; 
it was not only true news, but good news ; " In de- 
claring this, we declare unto you glad tidings, {v, 
32, 33. ) which should be in a particular manner ac- 
ceptable to you Jews J so far are we from designing 
to put any slur upon you, or do you any wrong, that 
the doctrine we preach, if you receive it aright, and 
understand it, brings you the greatest honour and 
satisfaction imaginable ; for it is in the resurrection 
of Christ, that the promise which ivas made to your 
fathers, isj^uljilled to you." He acknowledges it to 
be the dignity of the Jewish nation, that to them per- 
tained the promises, (Rom. 9. 4.) that they were the 
heirs of the promise, as they were the children of 
the patriarchs to whom the promises were first 
made. The great promise of the Old Testament 
was that of the Messiah, in whom all the families of 
the earth should be blessed, and not the family of 
Abraham only ; though it was to be the peculiar 
honour of that family, that he should be raised up 
of it, yet it was to be the common benefit of all fami- 
lies, that he should be raised up to ihem. Note, 1. 
God hath raised up Jesus, advanced him, and ex- 
alted him ; raised him again ; so we read it, meaning 
from the dead. We may take in both senses. God 
raised up Jesus to be a Prophet, at his baptism ; to 
be a Priest to make atonement, at his death ; and to 
be a King to rule over all, at his ascension ; and his 
raising hi?n up from the dead was the confirmation 
and ratification of all these commissions, and proved 
him raised of God to these offices. 2. This is the 
fulfilling of the promises made to the fathers, the 

Eromise of sending the Messiah, and of all those 
enefits and blessings which were to be had with 
him and by him ; '* This is he that should come ; 
and in him you have all that God promised in the 
Messiah, though not all that you promised your- 
selves." Paul puts himself into the number of the 
Jews, to whom the promise was fulfilled, to us their 
children. Now if they who preached the gospel, 
brought them these glad tidings, instead of looking 
upon them as enemies to their nation, they ought to 
caress them as their best friends, and embrace their 
doctrine with both arms ; for if they valued the pro- 
mise so much, and themselves by it, much more the 
performance. And the preaching of the gospel to 
the Gentiles, which was the great thing that the 
Jews found themselves aggrieved at, was so far from 
infringing the promise made to them, that the pro- 
mise itself, that all the families of the earth should 
be blessed in the Messiah, could not otherwise be 
accomplished. 

Fourthly, That the resurrection of Christ was the 
great proof of his being the Son of God ; and con- 
firms what was written in the second Psalm ; (thus 
ancient was the order in which the Psalms are now 
placed ;) Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten 
thee. That the resurrection of Christ from the dead 
was designed to evidence and evince this, is plain 
from that of the apostle ; (Rom. 1. 4.) He was de- 
clared to be the Son of God with power, by the re- 
surrection fro m the dead. When he was first raised 
up out of obscurity, God declared concerning him 
by a voice from heaven, 7^his is my beloved Son, 
(Matt. 3. 17.) which has a plain reference to that in 
the second Psalm, Thou art my Son. Abundance 
of truth there is couched in those words ; that this 
Jesus was begotten of the Father before all worlds ; 
was the Brightness of his glory, and the express 
image of his person, as the son is of the father's : 
that he was the >.oy®', the eternal Thought of the 
eternal Mind ; that he was conceived by the power 
of the Holy Ghost in the womo of the virgin ; for 
upon that account also, that Holy Thing was called 
the Son of God; (Luke 1. 35.) that he was God's 
Agent in creating and governing the world, and in 



redeeming it and reconciling it to himsc f, oxiA faith- 
ful as a son in his own house ; and as such was Hen 
of all things. Now all this which was declared at 
Christ's baptism, and again at his transfiguration, 
was undeniably proved by his resurrection. The 
decree v.'hich was so long before declared, was then 
confirmed ; and the reason why it was impossible he 
should be held by the bands of death, was, because 
he was the Son of God, and consequently had life in 
himself, which he could not lay down but with a de- 
sign to resume it. When his eternal generation is 
spoken of, it is not improper to say, This day have 
1 begotten thee ; iov from everlasting to everlasting, 
is with God as it were one and the same eternal day. 
Yet it may also be accommodated to his resurrec- 
tion, in a subordinate sense, *' This day have I made 
it to appear that I have begotten thee ; and this day 
have I begotten all that are given to thee :" for it is 
said, (1 Pet. 1. 3.) that the God and Father of our 
Lord Jesus Chrnst, as our God and Father, hath be- 
gotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection 
of Jesus Christ from the dead. 

Fifthly, That his being raised the third day, so as 
not to see coritiption, and to a heavenly life, so as no 
more to return to corruption, to the state of the dead, 
as others did who were raised to life, further con- 
firms his being the Messiah promised. 

1. He rose to die no more ; so it is exprjessed Rom. 
6. 9. .4s concerning that he raised him up from the 
dead, now no more to return to corruption, that is, 
to the grave, which is called corruption. Job 17. 14. 
Lazarus came out of the grave with his grave 
clothes on, because he was to use them again ; but 
Christ, having no more occasion for them, left them 
behind. Now this was the fulfilling of that scrip- 
ture, (Isa. 55. 3.) I will give you the sure mercies 
of David ; to. liria. AolCiS ta CT-zra — the holy things of 
David, the faithful things ; for in the ])romise made 
to David, and in him to Christ, great stress is laid 
upon the faithfulness of God, (Ps. 89. 1, 2, 5, 24, 
33.) and upon the oath God had sworn by his holi- 
ness, V. 35. Now this makes them «^^7r mercies in- 
deed, that he who is intrusted with the dispensing 
of them, is risen, to die no more; so that he ever 
lives to see his own will executed, and the blessings 
he hath purchased for us, given out to us. As 1f 
Christ had died, and had not risen again, so if he 
had risen to die again, we had come short of the 
sure mercies, or at least could not have been sure oi 
them. 

2. He rose so soon after he was dead, that his 
body did not see corruption ; for it is not till the third 
day that the body begins to change. Now this was 
promised to David, it was one of the sure mercies oj 
David ; for it was said to him in Ps. 16. 10. jVeithej 
wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption, v. 
35. God had promised to David, that he would 
raise up the Messiah of his seed, who should there- 
fore be a Man, but should not like otlicr men see 
corrui)ti()n. This promise could not have its ac- 
complishment in David, but looked forward to 
Christ. 

(1.) It could not be accomplished in David him 
self, {v. 36.) for David, after he had s( rx'ed his own 
generation, by the will of God, wlio raised him wy 
to be wliat he 'was,fell asler/i, and was laid to hit 
fathers, and saw corruption. Here we liave a shorl 
account of the life, death, and burial, of the patri- 
arch David, and his continuance under the power 
of death. [1.] His life ; He served his own genera- 
tion by the will of God, licfore he slept the slecj) of 
death. David was a useful good man ; he did good 
in the world by the will of God, he made God's pre- 
cepts his iiile ; he sen'cd his own generation, so as 
therein to serve God ; he so served and pleased men, 
[as whatever the king did, fdeased the people, 2 Sam. 
3. 36. ) as still to keep himself the faithful servant of 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



\3h 



God. See Gal. 1. 10. He served the good of men ; 
but did not serve the will of men. Or, by the will 
of God's providence so ordering it, qualifying him 
for, and calling him to, a public station, he served 
his own generation; for every creature is that to us, 
that God makes it to be. David was a great bless- 
ing to the age wherein he lived, he was the servant 
of his generation ; many are the curse, and plague, 
and burthen, of their generation. Even those that 
are in a lower and narrower sphere, must look upon 
it, that therefore they live, to sem'e their generation ; 
and those that will do good in the world, must make 
themselves servants of all, 1 Cor. 9. 19. \^^e were 
not bom for ourselves, but are members of com- 
munities, to which we must study to be serviceable. 
Yet here is the difference between David and Christ, 
that David was to serve only his otvn generation, 
that generation in which he lived; and therefore 
when he had done what he had to do, and written 
what he had to write, he died, and continued in the 
grave ;but Christ (not by his writings or words upon 
record only as David, but by his personal agency) 
was to serve all generations, must ever live to reign 
over the house nf Jacob, not as David, for forty 
years, but for all ages, as long as the sun and moon 
endured, Ps. 89. 29. His throne must be as the 
davs of heaven, and all generations must be blessed 
in 'him, Ps. 72. 17. [2.] His death ; He fell aslee/i. 
Death is a sleep, a quiet rest, to those who, while 
they lived, laboured in the service of God and their 
generation. Obsers'e, He did not fall asleep till he 
had served his generation, till he had done the work 
for which God raised him up. God's servants have 
their work assigned them ; and when they have 'ac- 
comfilished as a hireling their day, then, and not till 
then, they are called to rest. God's witnesses never 
die till they have finished their testimony ; and then 
the sleep, the death, of the labouring man will be 
sweet. David was not permitted to build the tem- 
ple, and therefore when he had made preparation 
for it, which was the service he was designed to, he 
feU asleep, and left the work to Solomon. [3.] His 
burial ; He was laid to his fathers. Though he was 
bviried in the city of David, (1 Kings 2. 10.) and not 
in the sepulchre of Jesse his father at Bethlehem, 
yet he might be said to be laid to his fathers ; for the 
grave, in genera], is the habitation of our fathers, of 
those that are gone befoi-e us, Ps. 49. 19. [4.] His 
continuance in the grave ; He saw corruption. We 
are sure he did not rise again ; this St. Peter insists 
upon, when he freely speaks of the patriarch David ; 
{ch. 2. 29.) He is both dead and buried, and his se- 
pulchre is with us iinto this day. He saw coriiip- 
tion, and therefore that promise could not have its 
accomplishment in him. But, 

(2.) It was accomplished in the Lcrd Jesus; {v. 
."7.) He whom God raised again, saw no corruption ; 
for it was in him that the sure mercies were to be 
reserved for us. He rose the third day, and there- 
fore did not see corruption then ; and he rose to die 
no more, and therefore never did. Of him there- 
fore the promise must be understood, and no other. 
3. Having given them tliis account of the Lord 
Jesus, he comes to make application of it. 

(1.) In the midst of his discourse, to engage their 
attention, he had told his hearei-s, that they were 
concerned in all this ; (r. 26. ) ♦« To you is the word 
of this salvation sent; to you fii-st. If you by your 
unbelief make it a word of rejection to you, you may 
thank yourselves ; but it is sent to you for a word of 
salvation ; if it be not so, it is your own fault. " Let 
them not peevishly argue, that because it was sent 
to the Gentiles, who had no commiuiion with them, 
therefore it was not sent to them ; for to them it was 
sent in the first place. " To you men this is sent, 
and not to the angels that sinned. To you living 
men, and not to the congregation of the dead and 



damned, whose day of grace is over. " He there 
fore speaks to them with tenderness and respect; 
You are men and brethren ; and so we are to look 
upon all those that stand fair with us for the great 
salvation, as having the word of salvation sent to 
them. Those to whom he does by warrant from 
heaven here bring the wo7-d of salvation, are, [1.] 
The native Jews, Hebrews of the Hebrews, as Paul 
himself was ; *' Children of the stock of jibraham, 
though a degenerate race, yet to you is this word of 
salvation sent ; nay, it is therefore sent to you, to 
save you from your sins." It is an advantage to be 
of a good stock ; for though salvation does not al- 
ways follow the children of godly parents, yet the 
word of salvation does ; Abraham will command his 
children and his household after him. [2. ] The pro- 
selytes, the Gentiles by birth, that were in some de- 
gree brought over to the Jews' religion ; " Whoso- 
ever among you that fearcth God. You that have 
a sense of natural religion, and have subjected your- 
selves to the laws of that, and taken hold of the 
comforts of that, to you is the word of this salvation 
sent ; you need the further discoveries and direc- 
tions of revealed religion, are prepared for them, 
and will bid them welcome, and therefore shall cer- 
tainly be welcome to take the benefit of them." 

(2.) In the close of his discourse, he applies what 
he had said concerning Christ, to his hearers. 
He had told them a long story concerning this Jesus; 
now they would be ready tn ask. What is all this to 
us ? And he tells them plainly, it is to them. 

[1. ] It will be their uns])cakable advantage if they 
embrace Jesus Christ, and believe this word of sal- 
vation ; it will relieve them there where their 
gi-eatest danger lies ; and that is from the guilt of 
their sins ; "Be it known unto yon therefore, men 
and bretliren ; we are warranted to proclaim it to 
you, and you are called to take notice of it." He 
did not stand up to preach before them, but to preach 
to them, and not without hopes of prevailing with 
them ; for they are men, reasonable creatures, and 
capable of being argued with ; they are brethren, 
spoken to, and dealt with, by men like themselves ; 
not only of the same nature, but of the same nation. 
It is proper for the preachers of the gospel to call 
their hearers brethren ; as speaking familiarly to 
them, and with an affectionate concern for their 
welfare, and as being equally interested with them 
in the gospel they preach. Let all that hear the 
gospel of Christ, know these two things : 

J'irst, That it is an act of indemnity granted by 
the King of kings to the children of men, who stand 
attainted at his liar of treason against his crown and 
dignity ; and it is for and in consideration of the me- 
diation of Christ between God and man, that this 
act of grace is passed and proclaimed; (t. .38.) 
'* Through this Man, who died and rose again, is 
preaihed unto you the forgiveness of sins. We are 
to tell you, in Ood's name, that your sins, though 
many and great, may be forgiven, and how it is come 
about that they may be so, without any injury to 
God's honour ; and how you may obtain the forgive- 
ness of vour sins. \\'e are to preach repentance for 
the remission of sins, and divine grace giving both 
repentance and remission of sins. The remission of 
sins is through this Man, by his merit it was pur- 
chased, in his name it is offered, and by his authori- 
,ty it is bestowed ; and therefore you are concerned 
to be acquainted with him, and interested in him. 
We preach to you the forgiveness of sins ; that is the 
salvation we bring you, the word of God ; and there- 
fore you ought to bid us welcome and look upon us 
as your friends, and messengers of good tidings." 

Secondly, That it does that for us, which the law 
of Moses could not do. The Jews were jealous for 
the law, and because it prescribed expiatory and 
pacificatory sacrifices, and a great variety of purifi. 



136 



THE ACTS, XIII. 



cations, fancied they might be justified by it before 
God. " No," saith Paul, " be it known to you, that 
it is by Christ only that they nvho believe in him, and 
none else, are justified from all things, from all the 
guilt and stain of sin, from which ye could not be 
justified by the law of Moses;" {v. 39.) therefore 
they ought to entertain and embrace the gospel, and 
notto adhere to the law in opposition to it, because 
the gospel is perfective, not destructive, of the law. 
Note, 1. The great concern of sinners, is, to be jus- 
tified, to be acquitted from guilt, and accepted as 
righteous in God's sight. 2. Those who are truly 
justified are acquitted fi-om all their guilt ; for if any 
DC left charged upon the sinner, he is undone. 3. 
It was impossible for a sinner to be justified by the 
law of Moses ; not by his moral law, for we have all 
broken it, and are transgressing it daily, so that in- 
stead of justifying us, it condemns us : not by his 
remedial law, for it was not possible that the blood 
of bulls and goats should takeaway sin, should sa- 
tisfy God's offended justice, or pacify the sinner's 
wounded conscience. It was but a ritual and typical 
institution. See Heb. 9. 9. — 10. 1, 4. 4. By Jesus 
Christ we obtain a complete justification ; for by 
him a complete atonement was made for sin. We 
are justified, not only by him as our Judge, but by 
him as our Righteousness, the Lord our Righteous- 
ness. 5. All that believe in Christ, that rely upon 
him, and give up themselves to be ruled by him, 
are justified bv him, and none but they. 6. What 
the law could not do for us, in that it was weak, that 
the gospel of Christ does ; and therefore it was folly, 
out of a jealousy for the law of Moses and the ho- 
nour of that institution, to conceive a jealousy of the 
gospel of Christ and the designs of that more per- 
fect institution. 

[2.] It is at their utmost peril if they reject the 
gospel of Christ, and turn their backs upon the offer 
now made them ; {v. 40, 41.) " Betvare therefore ; 
you have a fair invitation given you, look to your- 
.selves, lest you either neglect or oppose it. " Note, 
Those to whom the gospel is preached, must see 
themselves upon their trial and good behaviour, and 
are concerned to beware lest they be found refusers 
of the grace offered. " Beware, lest you not only 
come short of the blessings and benefits spoken of 
in the prophets, as coming upon those that believe, 
but fall under the doom spoken of in the prophets, 
as coming upon those that persist in unbelief ; lest 
that come ti/ion you, which is sfiolcen of." Note, 
The thrcatenings are warnings ; what we are told 
will come upon impenitent sinners, is designed to 
awaken us to beware lest it do come upon us. Now 
the prophecy referred to, we have Hab. 1. 5. where 
the desti-uction of the Jewish nation l)y the Chal- 
deans is foretold as an incredible unparalleled des- 
truction ; and that is here applied to the destruction 
that was coming upon that nation by the Romans, 
for their rejecting of the gospel of Christ. The 
apostle follows the Septuagint translation, which 
reads. Behold, ye desfiisers : (for, Behold, ye among 
the heathen ; ) because it made the text more appo- 
site to his purpose. 

First, ''Take heed lest the guilt come upon vou, 
which was spoken of in the prophets — the giiilt of 
despising the gospel and the tenders of it, and des- 
pising the Cientiles that were advanced to partake 
of it. Bevjare, lest it be said to you. Behold, yt 
desfiisers." Note, It is the ruin of many, that they 
despise religion, thev look u])on it as a thing below 
them, and are not willing to stoop to it. 

Secondly, '"Take heed lest the judgment romc 
upon you, which was spoken of in the prophets ; 
that ye shall wonder and fierish, wonderfully ])erish ; 
your y)erdition shall be amazing to yourselves and 
nil about vou." They that will not wonder and be 
8aved, shall wonder and jjerish. They that enjoyed 



the privileges of the church, and flattered them- 
selves with a conceit that those would save them, 
will wonder when they find their vain presumption 
overruled, and that their pri\nleges do but make 
their condemnation the more intolerable. Let the 
unbelieving Jews expect that God will work a work 
in their days, which you shall in no wise belieVe, 
though a man declare it unto you. This may be 
understood as a prediction, either, 1. Of their sin ; 
that they should be incredulous, that that great 
work of God, the redemption of the world by 
Christ, though it should be in the most solemn man- 
ner declared unto them, yet they would in no wise 
believe it, Isa. 53. 1. ll'ho hath believed our report? 
Though it was of God's working, to whom nothing 
is impossible, and of his declaring, who cannot lie, 
yet they would not give credit to it. They that had 
the honour and advantage to have this work wrought 
in their days, had not the grace to believe it. Or, 
2. Of their destruction ; the dissolving of the Jewish 
polity, the taking of the kingdom of God from them 
and giving it to the Gentiles, the destruction of their 
holy house and city, and the dispersion of their peo- 
ple, was a work which one would not have believed 
should ever have been done, considering how much 
they had been the favourites of Heaven. The ca- 
lamities that were brought upon them, were such 
as were never before brought upon any people. 
Matt. 24. 21. It was said of their destruction by the 
Chaldeans, and it was true of their last destruction, 
All the inhabitants of the world would not have be- 
lieved that the enemy should have entered into the 
gates of Jerusalem as they did. Lam. 4. 12. Thus is 
there a strarige /lunishment to the workers of iniqui- 
ty, especially to the despisers of Christ, Job 31. 3. 

42. And when the Jews were gone out 
of the synagogue, the Gentiles hesought 
that these words might be preached to them 
the next sabbath. 43. A^ow when the con- 
gregation was broken up, many of the Jews 
and rehgious proselytes followed Paul and 
Barnabas ; who, speaking to them, per- 
suaded them to continue in the grace of 
God. 44. And the next sabbath-day came 
almost the whole city together to hear the 
word of God. 45. But when the Jews saw 
the multitudes, they were filled with envy, 
and spake against those things which were 
spoken by Paul, contradicting and blas- 
pheming. 46. Then Paul and Barnabas 
waxed bold, and said. It was necessai^ 
that the word of God should first have been 
spoken to you : but seeing ye put it from 
you, and judge 5'ourselvcs luiworihy o( 
everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 
47. For so hath the Lord commanded us, 
snijinf^, I have set thee to be a light of the 
Gentiles, that thou shonldest be for salva- 
tion unto the ends of the earth. 48. And 
when the Gentiles heard this, they were 
glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: 
and as many as were ordained to eternal 
life believed. 49, And the word of the Lord 
was published throughout all the region. 
50. But the Jews stirred up the devout and 
honourable women, and the chief men of 
the city, and raised persecution against 



THE ACTS, Xlll. 



J37 



Paul and Barnabas, and oxpelled them out 
of their coasts. 51. But they shook off the 
dust of their feet against them, and came 
unto Iconiuni. 52. And the disciples were 
filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost. 

The design of this story being to vindicate the 
apostles, especially Paul, (as he doth himself at 
large, Rom. 11.) from the reflections of the Jews 
upon him for preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, 
it is here observed, that he proceeded therein with 
all the caution imaginable, and upon due considera- 
tion, which here there is an instance of. 

I. There were some of the Jews that were so in- 
censed against the preaching of the gospel, not to 
the Gentiles, but to themselves, that they would not 
bear to hear it, but vjcnt out of the synagogue while 
Paul was preaching, {v. 42.) in contempt of him 
and iiis doctrine, and to the disturbance of the con- 
gregation. It is likely, they whispered among them- 
selves, exciting one another to it, and did it by con- 
sent. Now tliis spoke, 

1. An open infidelity ; as plain a profession of un- 
belief, as coming to hear the gospel is of faith. They 
thus publicly avowed their contempt of Christ and 
of his doctrine and law ; were not ashamed, neither 
could they blush : and they thus endeavoured to be- 
get prejudices in the minds of others against the gos- 
pel ; they went out to draw others to follow their 
pernicious ways. 

2. An obstinate infidelity ; they went out of the 
synagogue, not only to shew that they did not be- 
lieve the gospel, but because they were resolved 
they would not, and therefore got out of the hearing 
of those things that had a tendency to convince them. 
They stojified their ears, like the deaf adder. Justly 
therefore was the gospel taken from them, when 
they first took themselves from it ; and turned them- 
selves out of the church, before they were turned 
out of it. For it is certainly true, God never leaves 
any till they first leave him. 

II. The Gentiles were as willing to hear the gos- 
pel as those iiide and ill-conditioned Jews were to 
get out of the hearing of it ; They besought that 
these words, or words to this effect, might be preach- 
ed to them the next sabbath ; in the week between, 
so some take it ; on the second and fifth day of the 
week, which in some svnagogues were their lecture 
days. But it appeal's, {x>. 44. ) that it was the next 
sabbath-day that they came together. They begged, 

1. That the same offer might be made to them, 
that was made to the Jews. Paul in this sermon had 
brought the word of salvation to the Jews and prose- 
lytes, but had taken no notice of the Gentiles ; and 
therefore they begged, that forgiveness of sins 
through Christ might be preached to them, as it 
was to tlie Jews. The Jews' leavings, nay loathings, 
were their longings. This justifies Paul in his 
preaching to them, that he was invited to it, as Pe- 
ter was sent for to Cornelius. Who could refuse to 
break the bread of life to those who begged so hard 
for it ; and to give that to the poor at the door, which 
the children at the table threw under their feet ? 

2. That the same instructions might be given to 
them. They had heard the doctrine of Christ, but 
did not undei-stand it at the first hearing, nor could 
they remember all that they had heard, and there- 
fore thev begged it might be preached to them again. 
Note, It is good to havethe word of Christ repeated 
to us. What we have heard we should desire to 
hear again, that it may take deep root in us, and the 
nail that is driven may be clenched, and be as a 
nail in a sure filace. To hear the same things should 
not be grievous, because it is safe, Phil. 3. 1. It ag- 
gravates the ill disposition of the Jews, that the Gen- 
tiles desired to hear that often, which they were 

Vol. VI.— S 



not willing to hear once ; and commends the good 
disposition of the Gentiles, that they did not follow 
the ill example which the Jews set them. 

III. There were some, nay, there were many, 
both of Jews and proselytes^ that were wrought 
upon by the preachuig of the gospel ; they who ag- 
gravated the matter of the Jews' rejection by the 
preaching of the gospel, cried out, as is usual in such 
cases, " They have cast away, and cast off", all the 
people of God." " Nay," says Paul, "that is not 
so ; for ai)undance of the Jews ha\e embraced 
Christ, and are taken in ;" himself for one, Rom. 
11. 1,5. So it was here ; many of the Jews and re- 
ligious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, and 
received further instructions and encouragement 
from them. 

1. Thev submitted to the grace of God, and were 
admitted to the benefit -and comfort of it; that is 
implied in their being exhorted to continue in it. 
They followed Paul and Barnabas ; they became 
their disciples, or rather the disciples of Christ, 
whose agents thev were. Those that join them- 
selves to Christ, will join themselves to his ministers, 
and follow them. And Paul and Barnabas, though 
they were sent to the Gentiles, yet bid those of the 
Jevvs welcome, that were willing to come under their 
instructions; such neartv well-wishers were they to 
all the Jews and their friends, if they pleased. 

2. Thev were exhorted and encouraged to perse- 
vere herein ; Paul and Barnabas, speaking to them 
with all the freedom and friendship imaginable, per- 
suaded them to continue in the grace of God ; to 
hold fast that which they had received ; to continue 
in their belief of the gospel of grace ; to continue in 
their dependence upon the Spirit of grace, and at- 
tendance upon the means of grace. And the grace 
of God shall not be wanting to those who thus con- 
tinue in it. 

IV. There was a cheerful attendance upon the 
preaching of the gospel the next sabbath day ; {v. 
44.) jilmost the whole city (the generality of which 
were Gentiles) came together to hear the 7Vord of 
God. 

1. It is probable that Paul and Bamabas were not 
idle in the week-days, but took all opportunities in 
the week between, (as some think the Gentiles de- 
sired,) to bring them acquainted with Christ, and to 
raise their expectations from him. They did a 
great deal of service to the gospel in pi-ivate dis- 
course and conversation, as well as in their public 
sermons. Wisdom cried in the chief places of con- 
course, and the opening of the gates, as well as in 
the synagogues, Prov. 1. 20, 21. 

2. This brought a vast concourse of people to the 
synagogue on the sabbath-day ; some came out of 
curiosity, the thing being new ; others, longing to 
see what the Jews would do upon the second tender 
of the gospel to them ; and many who had heard 
something of the word of God, came to hear more ; 
and to hear it, not as the word of men, but as the 
word of God, by which we must be ruled and judged. 
Now M/A' justified Paul in preaching to the Gentiles, 
that he met with the most encouraging auditories 
among them. There the fields were white to the 
harvest, and therefore why should he not there put 
in his sickle ? 

V. The Jews were enraged at this ; and not only 
would not receive the gospel themselves, but were 
filled with indignation at them that crowded after 
it; (v. 45.) When the Jews saw the multitudes, and 
considered what an encouragement it was to Paul 
to go on in his work ; when they saw people thus 
flving like doves to their windows, and what proba- 
bility there was that among these multitudes, some 
would be, without doubt, wrought upon, and, it is 
likely, the greater part, to embrace Christ — ^this 
filled them with envy. 



138 



THE ACTS, XUl. 



1. They grudged the interest the apostles had in 
the people ; were vexed to see the sjTiagogue so full 
when they were to preach. This was the same spi- 
rit that worked in the Pharisees toward Christ, they 
were cut to the heart when they saw the whole ivorld 
go after him. When the kingdom of heaven was 
opened, they not only would not go in themselves, 
but were angry with them that did. 

2. They opposed the doctrine the apostles preach- 
ed ; They spake against those things that were spoken 
by Paul, cavilled at them, started objections against 
them, finding some fault or other with every thing 
he said, contradicting, and blaspheming ; avTsxt^&v 
avT/x«5/si'T«f — contradicting, they contradicted. They 
did it with the utmost spite and rage imaginable ; 
they persisted in their contradiction, and nothing 
would silence them. They contradicted for con- 
tradiction-sake, and denied that which was most 
evident. And when they could find no colour of 
objection, they broke out into ill language against 
Christ and his gospel, blaspheming him and it. 
From the language of the carnal man that receives 
not the things of the Spirit of God, and therefore 
contradicts them, they proceeded to the language 
of incarnate devils, and blasphemed them. Com- 
monly those who begin with contradicting, end with 
blaspheming. 

VI. The apostles hereupon solemnly and openly 
declare themselves discharged from their obliga- 
tion to the Jews, and at liberty to bring the word of 
salvation to the Gentiles, even by the implicit con- 
sent of the Jews themselves. Never let the Jew lay 
the fault of the caiTying of the kingdom of God to 
the Gentiles upon the apostles, for that complaint 
of their's is for ever silenced by their own act and 
deed, for what they did here, is for ever an estop- 
pel* to it. " Tender and refusal (we say) are good 
payment in law." The Jews had the tender of the 
gospel, and did refuse it, and tlierefore ought not to 
say any thing against the Gentiles having it. In de- 
claring this, it is said, {v. 46.) Paul and Barnabas 
waxed bold, more bold than they had been, while 
they were shy of looking favourably upon the Gen- 
tiles, for fear of giving offence to the Jews, and lay- 
ing a stumbling-block in their way. Note, There 
is a time for the preachers of the gospel to shew as 
much ol the boldness of the lion, as of the wisdom 
of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. 
When thf adversaries of Christ's cause begin to be 
daring, it is not for its advocates to be retired and 
cowardly. While there is any hope of working 
upon those that oppose themselves, they must be 
instructed with meekness ; (2 Tim. 2. 25.) but when 
that method has long been tried in vain, we must 
wax bold, and tell them what will come of their op- 
position. The impudence of the enemies of the gos- 
pel, instead of frightening, should rather imbolden, 
the friends of its cause ; for they are sure that they 
have a good cause, and they know whom they have 
trusted to bear them out. 

Now Paul and Barnabas, having made them a fair 
offer of gospel grace, here e:i\e them fair notice of 
their bringing; it to the Gentiles ; if by any means 
(as Paul says, Rom. 11. 14.) they might provoke them 
to emulation. 

1. They own that the Jews were entitled to the 
first offer ; " If was necessary that the word of God 
should first have been s/ioken to you, to whom the 
promise was made ; to von of the lost shee/i of the 
house of Israel, whom Christ reckoned himself first 
sent to." And his charge to the preachers of his 
gospel to begin at Jerusalem, (Luke 24. 47.) was an 
implicit direction to all that went into other coun- 
tries, to begin with the Jews, to whom pertained the 
f^oing of the law, and therefore the preaching of 

* Legal bnr. — £p. 



the gospel. Let the children first be si rved. Marl 
7. 27. 

2. They charge them with the refusal of it ; " 17 
put it from you; ye will not accept of it ; nay, yt 
will