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our being,” in preference to that rabble of divinities, exhibited in the system of Heathen theology ; especially when to every one of these pretended Gods were ascribed actions and conduct suitable only to wicked men. Whether we suppose that there were proselytes of the gate or not, there were several Heathens without doubt, who had adopted the notion of the unity of God, together with other spiritual doctrines and pious exercises from the Jews, without submitting to circumcision and the whole of the ceremonial law. Of this description of persons was Cornelius the centurion; who, by whatever name called, proselyte of the gate or enlightened Heathen, “was a devout man, one that feared God with all his house,” (which is a part of his character worthy of great praise, as shewing an anxious zeal for the spiritual welfare of all connected with him no less than his own) - gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always." By this wise and good conduct having found favour in the sight of God, « he saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth hour of the day, an angel of God coming in to him ;" who commanded him to send men to Joppa for Peter lodging with Simon the tanner, from whom he should learn what he ought to do. It had been as easy a matter for the angel to: instruct him in his duty, as to refer him for this to Peter. But beside that the Gospel was to be . preached by the Apostles, and their fellow ministers,

appointed to that service, other purposes were intended by the present vision, as well as the admission of Cornelius ; one of which, and a most important one, was, to make the interview between

the centurion and apostle a practical means of re· moving from the mind of the latter prejudices unsuitable to the spirit of Christianity. For that he entertained such, we learn from what befel him, while the messengers from Cornelius were on their way. In a trance « he saw Heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth ; wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, rise Peter, kill and eat. But Peter said, not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him the second time, what God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” This vision happened to him, after he “ went up upon the house-top to pray about the sixth hour :" probably according to a custom of the Jews, who, when absent from Jerusalem, chose out elevated places whence they might bave a more free prospect towards the temple ; because Solomon at its dedication had begged of God, that he would hearken to the supplications of his people, who should spread out their hands towards that place. We have an instance of a similar kind

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in the prophet Daniel, when in Babylon; who
6 went into his house, and his windows being open
in his chamber towards Jerusalem, he kneeled on
his knees three times a day and prayed.” So that
at this very time, Peter seems to be giving proof of
an extreme attachment to the local worship so es-
sential in the Jewish religion.

Let us make a few remarks upon this vision of St. Peter. 1. In the first place then, we are to observe the great fitness and propriety of the figure here employed ; as not only well adapted to the condition of Peter, who, we are told, 6 became very hungry and would have eaten ;" but likewise as it applied to a matter of the highest concern in the frame of the Jewish religion. For the distinction of clean and unclean meats was observed with the utmost rigour by that people ; who were at all times remarkable for an entire devotion to external rites and ceremonies, and never more so than at this period, when they were guilty of innumerable transgressions of the moral law, and the measure of their iniquity was full. When therefore God commanded Peter to rise and eat, he in the first place literally notified to him, that this distinction so much relied upon by all Jews was now to be done away. It was nothing more than a type of better things ; which being now brought to pass, it had fully answered its purpose, and must yield to a new dispensation where

in all should be cleansed. The application also of this figurative language, in the next place, to the true spiritual design of the vision ; the purifying of Heathen as well as Jew, was certainly striking and natural enough to a reflecting mind ; yet did not produce an immediate effect upon the mind of St. Peter. For

2. Both here and elsewhere, we find him clinging to the ritual law with a degree of obstinacy, which can only be excused from his long habits of thinking, his high veneration for the ancient divine institutions, and perhaps for the conduct of our Lord himself; who not willing to give the least unnecessary offence to the Jews, did not decline either temple or synagogue service ; which were in force till his death and sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. · St. Peter did not well consider this ; neither how widely different that conduct was front so exclusive a zeal for those services, as to look upon them as indispensable means of attaining the kingdom of Christ.

It may possibly seem strange that the Apostles should fall into such a mistake, when one of the characters of the Messiah predicted under the old dispensation was, that 6 unto him should be the gathering of the nations ;” and under the new he is called a " light to lighten the Gentiles.” These and other like expressions evidently pointed out a distinction between his religion and that of Moses; the former being intended for an universal light to all mankind, while the latter was confined to the seed of Abraham. And I make no doubt that they did perceive this difference ; but it seems to me, as if notwithstanding this, they imagined that converts to Christianity were first to become proselytes to. Judaism, and that the temple of Jerusalem was to be made the porch and vestibule into Christ's church. Had they duly considered the ceremonial part of the Mosaiac institution, they must have seen how impracticable it was to distant people. But they were too warm admirers of the whole law to reason with sufficient calmness and candour on the subject. They literally believed, that « till heaven and earth should pass away, not one jot or tittle should pass from the law, till all be fulfilled :" which indeed was very true, though not in their manner of understanding it. For the whole frame of rites and ceremonies being typical and figurative of the Mes. siah, to whom they pointed, were of course fulfilled in his person, and being fulfilled were done away. But they imagined them to be still in force, and for ever ; although it was utterly impossible for them to be observed by foreign nations far removed from Judea. This difficulty, however, they were able to reconcile to themselves, by having recourse to the mercy of God, who would not require impossibilities ; and as a vast multitude of Jews

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