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Thus Cornelius and his friends were initiated into the Christian religion, as was related above; and Peter abode with them awhile at Cæsarea, to confirm them in the faith they had embraced. But, in the mean time, the apostles and other brethren who were in Judea, heard, in the general, that the uncircumcised Gentiles also had received the word of God, and had been baptized, which very much alarmed them, as they were not informed in all the particular circumstances attending that affair. The apostle Peter, therefore, found it necessary to defend himself in a set speech, in which he related the circumstances of the vision, of the message sent by Cornelius, of the visit which he paid in consequence of that message, and especially of the descent of the Holy Spirit, which preceded the baptism of the Gentile converts. And when they heard these things, they acquiesced in them with pleasure, and glorified God for so wonderful a mauifestation of his rich grace, saying, God hath then given to the poor Gentiles also repentance unto life; and has not only made them the overtures of it, but has graciously wrought it in some of their hearts.

It is now proper to mention some other circumstances relating to the church elsewhere. We observe, therefore, that, during the transactions which have been before related, they who were dispersed from Jerusalem by the persecution which arose about Stephen, after they had gone through Judea and Samaria, travelled as far as Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word of the gospel to none but the Jews, not being at all apprehensive that the Gentiles were to share the blessings of it. But some of them who bore a part in this work were men that were natives of the island of Cyprus, and of the province of Cyrene in Africa, who, having heard the story of Peter's receiving Cornelius, though a Gentile, into the communion of the church, took occasion from thence to imitate his example; and, having entered into Antioch, spake freely to the Greeks as well as to the Jews, preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus to them, and inviting them to accept of its invaluable privileges. And the hand of the Lord was remarkably with them in this pious labour; and a great number of the Gentiles were so effectually convinced and wrought upon by their discourses and miracles, that they believed and turned unto the Lord Jesus, consecrating themselves to the service of God through him, with the most humble dependance on his blood and grace. When this pleasing information was received at Jerusalem, the church in that city sent forth Barnabas, a man of most exemplary character, amiable temper, and steady faith, to visit the brethren at Antioch, and strengthen their hands in the work of the Lord. His labours were eminently successful; as not only those were confirmed in their faith who had been already converted to the knowledge of God, but many others were made partakers of divine grace, and added by baptism to the church. Finding the work increasing upon his hands, he went to Tarsus in pursuit of Saul, with whom, as we have observed, he had been previously acquainted, and introduced him among the brethren at Antioch as one who was likely to be eminently useful in that city. And it came to pass that they continued there, and assembled at proper times in the church for a whole year, and taught considerable numbers of people. And the disciples were, as some suppose, by divine appointment, first named Christians at Antioch; a title that was reaily an honourto them, and was very well adapted to signify their relation to Christ as their common Lord, and their expectatious from him as their Saviour.

The church at Antioch was about this time visited by certain prophets from Jerusalem, among whom Agabus was the most distinguished. He, standing up in their assemblies, signified, by the immediate direction of the Spirit, that there should shortly be a great famine over all the land of Israel; a prediction which came to pass in the days of Claudius Cæsar. The brethren, therefore, determined on making a contri

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bution; waich they did, and sent it to the elders of the church at Jerusalem, by the hands of those two able ministers, Barnabas and Saul.

About this time, Herod Agrippa, a prince who was very desirous of obtaining the favour of the Jews, commenced a persecution against such of the Christians as resided within his dominions. As James, the brother of John, was one of the most zealous of the apostles, he put him to death; causing him to be executed with the sword, in order that he might thus strike a terror into the rest, and induce them to desist from their attempts to propagate the gospel. Eusebius, from a book of Clemens Alexandrinus, which is now lost, tells us, that the person who had accused James, when he observed the boldness with which he gave testimony to Christ, was suddenly converted, and acknowledged himself to be a Christian. As they were going to the place of execution, he requested of James some token of his forgiveness; on which, the apostle, after a moment's reflection, gave him his blessing and a kiss of peace. Thus both of them endured martyrdom at the same time, being beheaded by the same sword.

However this might be, finding that the exertions for the propagation of the gospel were as vigorous as ever, he proceeded to apprehend Peter, and put him in prison, delivering him to the custody of four quaternions of soldiers, that is, to sixteen, cousisting of four in each party, who were to relieve each other by turns. This Herod ordered for the greater security of so noted a person; intending, immediately after the passover, to bring him out to the people, to be made a spectacle to them in what he should suffer, as Jesus, his Master, had been on the first day of unleavened bread. As the importance of so useful a life was well known to his Christian friends, earnest and continued prayer was made to God on his account, by the whole church at Jerusalem. And the event soon shewed that this, their earnest supplication, was not in vain; for when Herod was ready to have brought him out to execution, even that very night before he had designed to do it, Peter was quietly sleeping between two soldiers in full calmness and serenity of mind, though bound with two chains which joined each of his hands to one of the soldiers that lay on either side of him, in such a manner, that it was (humanly speaking) impossible he should have risen without immediately awaking them. And the other two guards, then on duty, stood centry before the door, and were keeping the prison, that there might be no attempt of any kind made to rescue him, because he was looked upon as a person of great consequence. An astonishing deliverance was now effected; for an angel of the Lord presented himself on a sudden, and a glorious light shone in the whole prison, dark and gloomy as it was; and this heavenly messenger was no sooner come, but, giving Peter a gentle blow on the side, he awoke him, saying, Arise quickly. And the same moment of time both his chains fell off from his hands; yet the soldiers were, by a miraculous power, kept so fast asleep, that they were not at all alarmed by the noise of their fall. And the angel said to him, Gird thyself presently in the clothes thou hast on, tie thine inward garment about thee, and bind on thy sandals, that thou mayest walk out; and, accordingly, he did so. And he says to him farther, Throw thy mantle round thee, and follow me out. And Peter, going out of the prison as he was guided by the angel, met with no opposition in his way, and followed him as he was ordered. And he was 80 astonished, that he did not know that what was done by the augel was true and real, but only supposed that he had seen a vision, as in some other instances he had done. And, passing through the first and second watch, where the guards were all asleep, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which, though it was a heavy gate, and very strongly fastened, yet was no hindrance in their way, but opened to them as of its own accord: and thus, going cut into the city, they went together

by the Spirit that three men were at the gate, who had come to visit him on the most important business. He therefore went down immediately; and, after hearing their plain narration, procured them lodging for that night, and on the morning act out with them for Cæsarea. After sleeping another night upon the road, they, on the next day, entered Cæsarea, where Cornelius was waiting for them, having called together his relations and most intimate friends for to hear the divine message. And as Peter was entering into his house, Cornelius met him; and, to express his reverence to one so remarkably the messenger of heaven, falling down at his feet. paid homage to him. But Peter would by no means permit this, and therefore raised him up, saying, arise, for I also myself am nothing more than a man as thou art, and pretend to no right to such profound respects. This happened just at the entrance of the house; and, thus discoursing with him, he went in, and found many of the friends and acquaintance of Cornelius gathered together, so that Peter, at the first sight of them, expressed some surprize. And he said to them, you cannot but know that it is looked upon among us as unlawful for a man that is a Jew to join in friendly conversation with a Gentile, or to come into the house of one of another nation, who is not, at least, naturalized by circumcision, and a full conformity to our law, which I am well aware that you are not: nevertheless, God hath lately shewn me that I am to make no such distinction, and to call no mau common or unclean. Wherefore, when I was sent for hither by your messengers, I came away without any coptradiction or debate; I would ask, therefore, and desire to know from your own mouth, on what account you have sent for me. Then Cornelius, with the utmost frankness and sincerity, related the vision with which he had been favoured four days before, and assured Peter that it was with intent to hear his declaration of truth that they were all at that time collected together. Then Peter, opening his mouth and ad-. dressing himself to them, with a solemnity answerable to so great an occasion, said, Of a truth I perceive whatever my former prejudices were as to the difference between the Jews and the Gentiles, that God is no respecter of persons, and accepts no man merely because he is of such a nation, nor so determines his regards as to confine his favours to the seed of Abraham alone; but that in every nation, he that, with a true filial reverence and obedience, feareth him, and, in consequence of this worketh righteousness, whatever be the family from which he is descended, though he be none of the posterity of Abraham, is acceptable to him. And this I apprehend now to be the meaning of that message which he sent to the children of Israel, proclaiming the glad tidings of mutual peace by Jesus Christ, the great ambassador of peace, who, after all his abasement, being exalted to his kingdom, is become Lord of all, not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also; and, under that character, will manifest the riches of his mercy unto all that call upon him; and, since this is the case, far be it from me to maintain any farther reserve with regard to those whom God hath been pleased through him to receive. I shall therefore set myself with pleasure to communicate to you the method of salvation by him. You cannot but in general know something, though it be only in a confused and imperfect way, of the report there was, but a few years ago, through all Judea, which began first, and took its rise from Galilee, just in your neighbourhood, after the baptism which John preached, who went before that extraordinary person to prepare his way I mean the report concerning Jesus of Nazareth; how God anointed him with the Holy Spirit, and with a power of performing the most extraordinary miracles in attestation of his divine mission, who went about doing good wherever he came, and, particularly, healing all those who were oppressed by the tyranny of the devil, dispossessing those malignant spirits with a most irresistible superiority. to them; for God himself was with him,

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