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with its history in every subsequent period. The stedfast continuance in the means of grace—the holy fear upon every soul—and the free liberality of each christian, were the blessed tokens of the Holy Spirit at his first descent, and which may also be looked for at every period
his abiding with his Church; though the rushing wind, the flames of
fire, and the miraculous powers are no longer expected. Though Satan has succeeded in spoiling this beautiful picture by sowing tares among the wheat, yet every true christian may earnestly pray for the return of such blessed days; and each ought to strive that at least the little portion of the church where his own influence may be felt, should be formed after this example of the Lord's first family at Jerusalem. A constant attendance on the means of grace, an evident devotion and solemnity of spirit, and a habit of self-denial in imparting this world's goods,—these carried on continually under the power of the Holy Ghost would restore the features of the day of Pentecost. And Christians acting thus would “ with gladness and singleness of heart praise God, and have favour with all the people.”
QUESTION. Do I endeavour to conform my own practice to the example of the Christians in the first days of the Church at Jerusalem?
Merciful God, be pleased to pardon the sinfulness of my heart which hinders me from following the example of those who first received the outpouring of the Spirit. Remove every impediment from without, and correct every prejudice within, that stands in the way of my shining as a bright light to those around me. Give me grace to be diligent in the use of means, serious under a sense of thy presence, and self-denying in the imparting of thy gifts ; that so I may praise thee in gladness and singleness of heart, and be made one means by which thou, Lord, mayest add new souls to the Church. AMEN.
FIFTH PORTION. Peter and John heal a lame man at the gate of the temple. PLACE.—Jerusalem.
May God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, give me the Holy Spirit, that I may
understand this portion of His Holy Word, and profit by it.
THE SCRIPTURE. Acts, chap. III.; IV. verses 1 to 4. Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of 2 prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's
womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which
is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple ; 3 who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alıns. 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 8 bis feet and ancle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood,
and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leap9 ing, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising 10 God: and they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful
gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at 11 that which had happened unto him. 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. 12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, “Ye men of
Israel, why marvel ye at this ? or why look ye so earnestly 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 14 the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye
denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted 15 unto you; and killed the Prince [or, Author] of life, whom God hath 16 raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name through
faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know :
yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in 17 the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through igno18 rance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God
before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should
suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that 19 your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall send Jesus Christ, which 20 before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the 21 times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said 22 unto the fathers, “ A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; bim shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, 23 which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.' Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow 24 after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye 25 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.' Unto you first God, having raised up 26 his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain (or
4. ruler) of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved 2 that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold 3 unto the next day : for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them 4 which heard the word believed ; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
We have already heard that it was the custom of the disciples to attend the Jewish service in the temple daily. It happened one day that Peter and John were going to the afternoon service at three o'clock, and were entering the temple by the entrance which was called the Beautiful gate, because of its great beauty and splendour, being one of the recent additions of king Herod the Great.
A number of beggars were always found at the entrances into the temple: one of them was a poor cripple, who was born in a deformed state ; and who was carried every day by his friends, and left at the Beautiful gate to beg:
As Peter and John were going in together, this poor cripple asked them to bestow their charity. They both looked at him very earnestly; and Peter bid him look at them. This he did at once, supposing that they meant to give him some money; but Peter told him that he had no
money, but what he had he was willing to give him. Then in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, he bid the poor cripple rise up, and use the limbs which had hitherto been only a burthen to him. As Peter said this, he took hold of his right hand and raised him; and whilst he was doing so, the bones of the man's feet and ancles which had been distorted and useless, were strengthened and set right. He leaped upon his feet, and following the two apostles went in with them into the temple, leaping, and shewing by his actions, his joy and gratitude to God. The Jews, who came to the afternoon worship in great numbers, saw this man so wonderfully restored, and heard him giving praise to God; and seeing that it was the well-known beggar who was in the habit of asking charity at the Beautiful gate of the temple, they were utterly astonished at finding him no longer a cripple. The man himself would not stir from the side of Peter and John; but had proceeded with them through the temple to the great eastern portico called Solomon's porch. All the people followed; and being there collected together, Peter took the opportunity of preaching to them.
He began by asking them why this miracle excited in them so great a surprize (perhaps referring to the knowledge which, as Jews, they ought to possess, of the way in which God had often manifested his power amongst their fathers; or more probably meaning that they must have known the many similar miracles which Jesus himself had so lately performed); and why they gazed so intently upon himself and John, as if it were supposed that the lame man had become whole and able to walk by means of the power which they possessed, or in consequence of the piety and religious devotion which they exercised. These were not the cause of this miracle. Jehovah, who had called himself “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exod. iii. 15)-He who was the God of the fathers of those to whom Peter was speaking, had glorified His Son; who, having taken flesh, was that very Jesus, whom the Jews had so recently given up as a malefactor into the hands of the Gentile governor for execution, because He declared himself to be the Son of their God. The people had denied his claim to the title, and refused to acknowledge him as their king at the judgment-seat of Pilate; nay, when the governor was about to give judgment that he might be released, they refused to receive back the Holy One, who was righteous and without blame either in that matter or in any other, and chose rather to claim the release of a murderer; thereby becoming the murderers of Him who is the Prince of life. Him God raised up to life again from amongst all the dead (1 Cor. xv. 23), as Peter and the other apostles could testify from their own knowledge; and it was the power of this Prince of life, applied by the belief in the power of that name, which had given bodily strength to the man whom they knew to have been lame, and now saw in the act of walking. Yes—it was the faith received from Christ himself, which had been the means of imparting a full measure of strength to the weak and lame man, as they themselves all of them saw.
Then the apostle led the people towards the practical application of all this; and by way of preparation, told them he knew that, in joining in the cry against Jesus, they had acted ignorantly, and that their chief priests also did not know what they were about. It was nevertheless true that in this manner Jesus had fulfilled the very things which God, by means of the prophets, had foretold should take place with regard to the Messiah.
Then he urged them to repent, and to turn from their evil ways to God, in order that when, after the burden and heat of this life, the breathing time shall come of peace and holiness, derived from the visible presence of the Lord, it might be found that their sins had been wiped away, even by that blood of Jesus which they had shed. To bring those times of refreshing, the Lord shall send again upon earth that very Jesus, the sacrifice fore-ordained for their sins, and proclaimed to them in anticipation of that glorious time. He is now in heaven, and must remain there until that period shall arrive, when all things shall be restored again from the consequences of the fall-a period to which God has referred in all his messages to man by the holy prophets from the beginning. Moses of old had declared to the fathers, that Jehovah their God should raise up a prophet from amongst their children, who should be like