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41. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, 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.
Gave her his hand, to help her up after she was alive. Jesus took Jairus' daughter's hand before she was restored.
Presented her alive. What joy must have taken the place of mourning in that house and throughout Joppa !
42. And it was (“ became,” Am. R.) known . . . and many believed in the Lord. The good works which the disciples did, on the one hand, and the power of the Lord to heal and save, on the other, both commended the Gospel to the people, and made it known everywhere.
The Restoration of Dorcas (1) brought into prominence Christian care for the poor.
(2) It revealed more clearly the character of Jesus, reminding the people of his teachings and his works of mercy and love.
(3) It called attention to the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead, and was still alive in heaven, and could do the same wonders through his disciples as he himself had done when on earth. It was no dead Saviour, but a living Saviour, whom the disciples preached.
(4) It was a lesson on immortality, teaching that the soul has an existence separate from the body; and that eternal life, begun here, and continuing forever, is the life that should be most earnestly sought.
Dorcas doubtless continued her good works for many a year, with a clearer vision, a deeper devotion, a wider range of usefulness than she ever had before. Compare her with the wise man's picture of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31.
"And Dorcas in her daughters lives
Industrious and kind;
To willing hand and mind.'-- Lynch. IV. THE BEAUTY AND INFLUENCE OF AN UNSELFISH LIFE. Service is the noblest conception of life. • The opportunities to do things for others are the substance ; the things one gets are the shadow. Not on the mountain top of rare privilege, but on the low level of ordinary life is the chance to serve, for that is where men are. Christ helped most in the walks of everyday life, where were the children and beggars and sick folk. Only on the low-lying plane of common experience can we look into men's faces, shake their hands, speak comfortingly to them, do them kindly service. Say not : ‘If only we had the opportunity we would serve !'”
The Happiness Road “ It's only just a little road,
“The road that leads to happiness
Is easy taking;
Beside it grass springs fresh and green
And buds are breaking.
“Oh, there are folks from far away,
And folks we know there.
So let us two take hands some day,
And oh, let's go there!”
- Mary Carolyn Davies. “ There is a way of doing kindness which looks as if no kindness had been done ; a gentle and delicate way which adds preciousness to the gift. I have known some men to do a kindness as if they were receiving it rather than giving it, so that the poor were not made to feel their poverty. This was Jesus Christ's method, and it will be ours as we approach his likeness." Joseph Parker. Only the unselfish man can do a kindness in this way ; and the power of such kindness as this is the most wide-spread, and the most lasting.
Illustration, from the life of a missionary doctor in China a few years ago. “ A terrible plague broke out and spread very rapidly, and in spite of the fact that the doctor worked day and night in his endeavor to save them, many of the natives died. At last he caught the sickness himself, and all thought he was going to die. Then a number of the men of that town, most of them merchants, made a pilgrimage to the temple of their god. They believed that he had power over their own lives, and at will could curtail their lifetime in order that more years might be given to some one else. They therefore journeyed to the temple to offer up so many years of their lives that the missionary might be spared.” — Sunday School Chronicle.
Look around you in the world, in the city or town or village where you live. Which are the most honored, have the truest influence on the lives of others, are most mourned when they are called home to their heavenly Father? Is it those who do great works of charity to be seen of men ? Is it those who devote all their “ spare time " to charitable work ? Is it those who give the largest sums for the service of God and man? Or is it those who, with no thought of self, or desire to be thanked, are always ready with their love and sympathy, and with gifts according to their power, be it little or much ?
“Love thyself last. Look near. Behold thy duty,
To those who walk beside thee down life's road.
And help them bear the burden of earth's load.
Who staggers 'neath his sin and his despair.
Record of Christian Work. V. THE SECRET OF SPIRITUAL POWER. What is it ? Where did Peter get his power in this need ? Where can we get the power to work for Christ in our times ? Peter obtained it, and we can obtain it, by following the footsteps of the Master. We read in the story of Jesus' life that before every great epoch in his work, and before any day of power in healing the people, he retired and spent much time, sometimes all night, in prayer to God. (See Luke 5 : 16, 17; 6:12, 19; and many other places.) În Mark 9 : 28, 29, he tells his disciples that only bý“ prayer and fasting,” which may be interpreted as the forgetting of self, and consecration to God, can the worst evils be cured. And Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians (3 : 1419), exhorts his readers to be “ filled with all the fulness of Christ " and then they will be able to so comprehend Christ that they can do his work, some of which is enumerated in the next chapter.
“ The greatest contribution which any man can make to the social movement is the contribution of a regenerated personality, of a will that sets justice above policy and profit.” “God has His best things for the few
“I want amid the victor throng
To have my name confessed,
And hear my Saviour say at last,
Well done! you took the best.
Though others take the rest;
Their good things have no charm for me,
Since I have found Thy best.”
LESSON VII (20). — February 15.
PETER AND CORNELIUS.
PRINT Acts 10:30-48.
GOLDEN TEXT. - The same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him.- Rom. 10:12.
Devotional Reading : Psalm 67.
Lesson Material : Acts 10:1-48.
Memory Verse : He loved us and sent his Son. i John 4 : 10.
Lesson Material : Acts 10 :1-48.
Intermediate and Senior Topic : THE OVERCOMING or PREJUDICE.
Additional Material : Rom. 2:1; 12 : 10, 16; Philemon.
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS. lived at Cæsarea, 35 miles north of
Joppa. It was the political capital of the A very practical lesson and one full Herods. of action and of interest in itself. It is a lesson where the pupils can be made to
THE ROUND TABLE. do a large part of the work. Places mentioned can be looked up on the map; FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION. information in relation to the Jewish laws about unclean food and of eating Why did Peter make his home with Simon the tanner? with the Gentiles ; and pupils can learn The Jewish laws of unclean meats. about the Roman army and the rank of Cornelius, and his character. a centurion as compared with officers in How was this a new era for the church?
Peter's report to the church at Jerusalem. our own army to-day and they can name The final decision of the church in regard to the Genthe cases and causes of prejudice in our
tiles (Acts 15). own time and land and show why and Racial prejudice to-day.
Religious prejudice. how we can overcome this feeling.
In the younger grades it will be well to emphasize the love of God to all man
THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY. kind. Let them understand how a Jew Books on Peter and on the Acts would look upon a Gentile and especially named in previous lessons. Professor a Roman, and how this incident proved Ramsay's Pictures of the A postolic that all were alike loved by the Heavenly Church, p. 159. McGiffert's A postolic Father.
Age. Horace Bushnell's Living Subjects, The Intermediate and Senior scholars “ Outside Saints.” Sermon, “ Vision and can make a most practical application Tasks,” by Phillips Brooks. Poem, of their own attitude toward those not “ The' Vision and the Summons by so favored as themselves, or belonging Susan Coolidge. Cornelius the Centurion, to the “ despised races ; showing them by Krummacher. that prejudice has no place in Christianity. The Young People and Adults should
PLAN OF THE LESSON. note the bearing of this incident on the SUBJECT : The Broadening of the opening of the door of Christianity to
Church of Christ. the Gentiles; the brotherhood of all men; and our duty in these circum- I. CORNELIUS AND His Vision, vs. 1stances.
8. II. THE BROADENING OF PETER, Vs.
9-16. THE LESSON IN ITS SETTING.
III. THE FIRST PREACHING
GENTILES, Vs. 16-48. the events of the last lesson.
IV. THE QUESTION Place. — (1) Peter was living at Joppa,
CHURCH, II:1-18. the modern Jaffa, the seaport of Jeru
V. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF
THE Consalem, in the house of Simon the tanner.
VERSION OF CORNELIUS. (2) Cornelius the Roman centurion VI. THE OVERCOMING OF PREJUDICE.
I. CORNELIUS AND HIS VISION, vs. 1-8. CORNELIUS was a member of the ancient and distinguished Italian family, the Cornelian gens (something like a Highland clan), to which belonged also the famous Roman generals, Sulla and the Scipios. It is, however, possible that this man was not really one of this noble family, for “ there were also many plebeians of this name, for Sulla bestowed the Roman franchise on 10,000 slaves, and called them after his own name, Cornelii.”
He was à Roman officer, a centurion, that is, about the same rank as a captain in our army, placed over a company of one hundred soldiers, with various subordinate officers. In practice, as in our companies, the actual number varied from 50 to 100 He belonged to the Italian band, or cohort, so called because made up of Romans born in Italy. “ An epitaph, about A.D. 70, found at Carnuntum on the Danube, commemorates one Proculus, a soldier of the Second Italian Cohort, engaged on detached service from the Syrian army. Thus there may well have been an Italian cohort in Syria thirty years earlier." - Dean Furneaux.
He was stationed at Cæsarea on the Samarian coast, about thirty-three miles north of Joppa, where Peter was. It was at the northern end of the Plain of Sharon, and about seventy miles from Jerusalem. It was the political capital of Judea. Here Herod the Great had built a splendid city, with a large artificial harbor, and here lived, at least in the summer, the governors or procurators of the Roman province, Pontius Pilate, Felix, and Festus. “ Broad quays, fine bazaars for trade, noble public buildings, commodious streets, lofty barracks for sailors and a palace used by the procurators; a huge open-air theatre ... the whole adorned with ... lavish ornamentation showed the importance of the place.
In later years Philip the Evangelist and his four prophesying daughters lived here in Cæsarea (Acts 21), and he may have been a resident as early as this time. Cornelius may have heard something of the Christian religion through him, if this was true.
The Character of Cornelius. 1. He was a devout man, and one that feared God. “ The words have a technical sense, and indicate that Cornelius was one of that large class of Gentiles who worshipped the God of the Jews, and endeavored to conform their lives in a general way to his will, while they did not accept circumcision, and thus become proselytes." McGiffert. “He was one of the sort of men Dean Farrar has called seekers after God"; men like Socrates, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.” At that time the desire had been awakened in many hearts. The whole atmosphere was permeated with the new life Jesus had brought with him from his Father in heaven.
2. He was a good husband, father, and master, and led all his house, not only the family but the entire household, in his own righteous ways.
3. He gave much alms to the people, both Jews and Gentiles. His religion was practical, not formal.
4. And prayed to God alway. He filled the fountain of his spiritual life from the river that flows from the throne of God. He thus lived up to all the light he had, and constantly sought more and clearer light on his path.
What he prayed for can be seen in the answer which he received ; in his earnestness in his fasting ; and in the indication that he kept regular hours of prayer. (1) He wanted more and clearer light. (2) He wanted assurance of forgiveness of sins. (3) He wanted the fulness and freedom of holy living. (4) He wanted many doubts and difficulties solved. (5) He wanted to be closer to God, with a consciousness of his love and pres
Derih ence and care. (6) He
G. Pagliei. wanted to know more
The Angel and Cornelius. about the life to come.
The Hindrances and Difficulties in the Way of Cornelius were many. While we know nothing of his early training, we can be sure that he had been brought up in heathenism, with all its cruelties and unsatisfactory worship, which left his heart hungry, like the prodigal feeding on husks. “In an army, when a soldier is religious, his religion must be thorough.” — Rackham. And this was especially true in those days and in the Roman army. He had, therefore, to overcome his early training, the corrupting influence of his heathen friends and associates, the worldliness of his surroundings, the immoralities encouraged by a military life, and the danger of losing promotion in his chosen profession if he embraced an unpopular religion. To have become what he was already must have taken courage and firmness to no small degree. The true soul steers, not drifts.
THE VISION OF CORNELIUS (vs. 3-6). The word for vision here is not the same word as is used later in the chapter for Peter's trance. It was neither a trance nor a dream. Evidently," openly” (Am. R.), plainly, without illusion. About the ninth hour, three o'clock in the afternoon, by the Roman method of computing time. Cornelius was observing the regular Jewish hour of prayer (v. 30), preceded by a fast. Thus in open daylight he saw an angel, of God. The divine messenger came in the form of a man, but in bright apparel to show his angelic nature. He was afraid. Such a messenger coming so unexpectedly and looking so intently, as into his very soul, would naturally make him afraid lest he had done something wrong, or lest some strange thing was to take place.
But the angel gently reassured him, telling him that his prayers and alms had been accepted by God as a memorial, that is, a “ remembrance offering.' What was to come was not a reward for praying and giving, but the state of heart which was expressed in those acts made it possible for Cornelius to receive still greater blessings.
Only to him that hath can more be given. No one can see the vision from the mountain top unless he has climbed the mountain's side. It is the faithful scholar in the lower schools who is called to come up higher and can make use of the higher.
5. Send men to Joppa. The new blessing must come through human instrumentality. One Simon, one of the many Simons in Joppa, designated by his other name, Peter.
The expression implies that he was unknown to Cornelius. In verse 6 the address is given. House is by the sea side. “ The sanitary laws of the ancients, it is said, required tanners to live out of the city, not only because of the dead animals which the nature of their business called them to use, but also because of the disagreeable odor and filth of their premises. The convenient prosecution of their business and the removing of the disagreeable refuse required that they should be near the water." Hackett.
At once, eager and joyful, the centurion despatched on this errand two of his trusted household servants, and to protect them, a devout soldier, detached for the purpose from his command. Note that the devoutness of the officer seemed to have been communicated to his subordinates, as usually happens.
II. THE BROADENING OF PETER, vs. 9–16. It is interesting to note the movements of divine Providence here. The three messengers of Cornelius had started at some time after three o'clock, since that was the time at which the vision occurred. They must have spent the night at some town on the way, and were approaching Joppa, at the end of their thirty-mile walk, at about the sixth hour, noon, which was one of the regular times of prayer for the Jews. At this hour Peter went up upon the housetop to pray. “ With the flat roofs of the Eastern houses, to which access could be obtained from outside without passing through the rooms of the building, the housetop formed a convenient place for retirement." Cambridge Bible. “ It was the place often chosen for the performance of religious duties. A wall or balustrade three or four feet high surrounds many of the roofs in the East, where a person may sit or kneel without being observed by others." Hackett.
Peter's Vision. In his long devotions Peter became very hungry, for the time had come for his usual meal, and we know not how hard his labors had been during the morning. He fell into a trance," a throwing of the mind out of its normal state, into a state where visions are seen. And saw heaven opened, to show that the vision and the teaching came from God.
“What the apostle saw was an extended sheet, the four corners of which were held up, as it were, by cords let down from the four extremities of the opened sky. The significance of the outstretched sheet, as a figure of the wide world, and the four corners as the directions into which the gospel was now to be borne forth into all the world, has often been dwelt upon.” Cambridge Bible. But this is a mere illustration from the facts, and does not belong to the natural interpretation of the vision. According to Professor Vincent the corners are attached to heaven, and the suggestion of ropes holding the corners is an unwarranted use of the word. It is the technical expression in medical language for the ends of bandages, one which hardly