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idolatries and vices. There is one consideration which removes every mistake and objection on the subject ; “A man is accepted according to that he hath, and not according to that he hath not.” And therefore the case of the unenlightened Heathen, who deviates from the path of virtue, deserves and shall find more indulgence than of the Jew or Christian, who go astray, though blessed with the revelation of God and Christ. If the former, on the other hand, worketh righteousness according to the law of nature, he shall find acceptance thro'. the merits of Christ, notwithstanding his misfortune of having never known him. Such is the doctrine preached by St. Peter, when he had shaken off those prejudices which fettered him to Jewish customs: and thus is set open the door of salvation to the Gentiles.
The Apostle now. proceeds to give an account of the word and preaching of our Lord, and also of his resurrection from the dead ; “Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly : not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.” But, it may be said, why not to all the people? Would not so public a display of the miracle be more convincing, and free from all suspicion of fraud ? Perhaps it might ; but neither had the Jews, who rejected a long series of public miracles, which were continued even
while our Lord hung on the cross, any right to prescribe conditions for their believing the resurrection ; nor is there wanting a sufficient body of evidence to establish this beyond all power of the gainsayer and unbeliever ; as will appear from these few considerations.
Although Christ did not appear to all the people after his resurrection, yet they wanted not convincing proof that he was risen. 6. The chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, after three days I will rise again : command, therefore, that the sepulchre be made sure, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, he is risen from the dead ; so the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch; Go your way, make it as sure as you can. So they went and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone and setting a watch.” This attention and vigilance are very remarkable, and shew the extreme caution of those sagacious enemies to prevent all possibility of fraud in the followers of Christ. But finding that the body had, notwithstanding all their care disappeared from the sepulcbre, and that the guard, having seen an angel, had become like dead men, they resort to the very conduct which they affected to condemn, to fraud and subornation of false witness. For when some of the watch
came into the city, and shewed the chief priests what was done, these gave money to the soldiers, desiring them to say, that while they slept his disciples had stolen him away ; and promising to secure them against punishment from the governor. This strange proceeding speaks fully for itself ; and, like many other impostures, ends in its own confusion. For, out of their great zeal to prove the charge, they make the soldiers prove too
much : they bring their testimony to a fact, - which in the same breath they declare to have liap
pened while they slept. Compare this deliberate system of fraud, this readiness in contriving, and assurance in upholding, a palpable and odious lie, with the reluctant assent of our Lord's disciples, with their candid account of their own slowness of conviction, with the simplicity and integrity of their whole narrative : and you will, on one hand, dis• cover the father of lies too successful with that unhappy nation ; and, on the other, be led to adore the God of truth, for thus manifesting himself by such plain and evident signs.
Again.—The Apostles, who were witnesses of the resurrection, had, upon the death of their master, and before this event took place, given up all for lost, and nearly consigned themselves to despair. Even his own predictions of the event seem to have been forgotten, or little relied upon. The first revival of their hopes was occasioned by his
resurrection : and as this change cannot be otherwise accounted for, so neither were they at all like'ly to be deceived in a matter about which they were at first very incredulous, and in which they had several opportunities to be satisfied. Above all, they could not fancy themselves endued with the gift of various tongues to preach, and other miraculous powers to confirm, this doctrine. The people, therefore, who were witnesses to these things, could not have had a higher degree of evidence ; . no, not even in the sight of our Lord himself. So that the purpose of God in shewing him only to chosen persons, and through them spreading a knowledge of the resurrection to the rest of the world, was amply sufficient for the conviction of all honest minds, which alone are worthy to be satisfied. Others would not be persuaded, though one rose from the dead, and were actually seen by them.
While Peter was speaking concerning Christ, 66 the Holy Ghost feil on all them which heard
the word :"--and they began to “ speak with , tongues, and magnify God.” Which appearing to
him an infallible proof of their fitness to become members of Christ's church, he “ commanded. them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” Thus were the Gentiles accepted with God. Let us give all due praise and honour to his holy name, and endeavour to prove ourselves worthy of this great and glorious privilege, through Christ. Amen.
CHAPTERS XI, XII.
HEN the conversion of Cornelius, who was the first fruits of the Gentiles, was made known to the Apostles and brethren in Judea, they were at first displeased at the account ; for they all seem to have laboured under the same prejudices with St. Peter before his vision. And although this Apostle stood very high in their opinion, yet upon his return to Jerusalem they o contended with him, saying, thou wentest into men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” Against this charge St. Peter defends himself, by expounding to them in order all that had happened to him, as recorded in the last chapter : after which detail of the vision and command sent him by God, and of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon Cornelius and his company, he subjoins in the 16th verse these words : " 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." These