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which he had been educated. It is hardly possible that so inquisitive a mind should not have been, in some degree, acquainted with the proceedings of Jesus; but, it is highly probable that the impetuosity of his temper, caused him, without sufficient enquiry, to believe the calumnies against him, that he was endeavouring to change their customs, and to destroy their system of religious worship.
St. Peter, on the contrary, was a chosen Apostle of Christ, who had followed him at his call, accompanied him in all his labours, an received from him, after his resurrection, the impressive command to “feed his sheep;" on which occasion he had declared his love for his master in impassioned terms. Nevertheless, this chosen Apostle was wholly ignorant of the extensive nature of the gospel with which he was entrusted. He had received it himself, he had converted many of his brethren, the Jews, to Christianity; but still he wanted to be informed of those other sheep, which were not of this fold, and which Christ came also to bring under his pastoral care. The manner in which St. Peter was enlightened, is written in the 10th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
Here, as in the former case of Saul, there were two divine visions connected with each other. Cornelius, a devout Gentile, is told that “ his prayers are heard, and his alms come up as a memorial before God;” and he is directed “ to send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter; he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”*
" When the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed,” he called his servants, and, on the morrow, sent them to Joppa. “ And as they drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the house top to pray, about the sixth hour; and he became very hungry, and would have eaten; but while they made ready he fell into a trance, and saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descended unto him, as it had been a great sheet, knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth; therein were all manner of fourfooted 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 anything that is common or unclean; and the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call thou not common ; this was done thrice, and the vessel was received up again into heaven."'*
* Acts x. 4-6,
It appears that while “ Peter doubted what the vision which he had seen should mean, and thought on the vision, the spirit said unto him, Behold three men seek thee, arise, therefore, and get thee down and go with them, doubting nothing, for I have sent them.”+ When Peter saw them, he said unto them,
66 Behold I am he whom ye seek, what is the cause wherefore ye are come ?"The men sent by Cornelius then stated their message, that Cornelius had been “ warned from God, by an holy angel, to send for Peter into his house, and to hear words of him." Peter, therefore, went with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him to Cesarea. 66 And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends; and as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up, I myself also am a man.
* Acts x. 1-16.
† Acts x. 17 and 20.
# Acts x. 21. * Acts x. 24–29.
And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together; and he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or to come to one of another nation; but God hath showed me that I should not call any man common or unclean; therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for; I ask, therefore, for what intent ye have sent for me." The recital of the narrative of the vision he had seen, by Cornelius, immediately answered this question, and put Peter in full possession of the cause of these wonderful revelations from heaven having been sent upon them. “ Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but, in every nation, he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with bim.”+ And he concludes his discourse with, “ And He (Christ) commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it was He that was ordained of God, to be the judge of quick and dead. To Him give all the Prophets witness, that, through his name, whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word; and they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles, also, was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost, for they heard them speak with tongues, and glorify God.”* And the Gentiles were baptized in the name of the Lord.
+ Acts x. 34, 35.
Thus were these two Apostles established as leaders in the promulgation of the gospel. Then “ the Apostles and brethren that were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God;"+ and after they had heard St. Peter's defence, “they glorified God, saying, Then bath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." I
I here take leave of my reader for the present, having completed that portion of my little work which I had contemplated. · The progress that Christianity made in the
* Acts x. 42_46.
+ Acts xi. 1.
# Acts xi. 18.