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and faith unfeigned— Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily ; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy rereward.'
The sacred history, after it has, in a few words, depicted his mind and habits, leads us now into his chamber, ‘He prayed to God alway.' Here we see the sacrifice of his lips, which was well pleasing unto his heavenly Father.
Not merely in his chamber, but in every place, and at all times, his heart was in thought and prayer, directed upwards to the source of all light. He praised and thanked God for the work of grace which He had begun in him, and for the light with which He had blessed him.
But, at the same time, in the immediate presence of such a holy and good God, he perceived the more clearly his distance from Him—his own poverty and deficiency—his sinfulness, and the darkness of his mind; and so much the more ardent became his desire for enlightenment, for purification, and holiness. He besought, therefore, farther grace, and more abundant gifts from God, and prayed to Him continually.
In this manner does the word of God, that discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, portray Cornelius the Gentile. Most lovely picture! But does it not put to shame many whom the Lord has called from the beginning to the inheritance of his holy ones in light?
What with this Gentile was but the commencement
his devotion and fear of God, his love of his neighbor, his aspirations and prayers-should much more be the daily occupation of the children of light! the blossoms and fruits of their lives! Is not the path of Cornelius the only right path to life, to freedom and happiness for the children of God! Cornelius, as yet, had not this joy; his eyes had not yet seen his Savior; but even then, he longed with his whole heart, and we may put in his mouth the words of Psalm xlii. - As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God; when shall I come and
appear before God! But, if the Lord make a refreshing fountain spring up in the thickets of the wood, for the hart panting with thirst, how much more shall he open the fountain of life to those who seek him! Here may we use the concluding words of the Psalm, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul ? why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my counteinance and
God.' So happened it to our Cornelius. He longed for the salvation of Israel, for the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and it was given to him in full measure. In him was fulfilled the divine promise: “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth. He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him, he also will hear their cry and will save them,' Psalm cxlv. 18, 19.
O Lord! draw us unto thee! for thou hast made us, and our heart is ever disquieted until it find peace in resting upon thee!
THE VISION OF CORNELIUS.
The history of the Centurion Cornelius is written minutely and circumstantially, not merely because he was the first Gentile whom the Apostle converted and baptized; but that in him we might see how very precious each individual is in the eyes of God. In the external world, man is but a cipher: 'As for man, his days are as grass, as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth; for the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.' Psalm ciii. 15, 16.
So it is with all the generations of men, they wither and fall away like the leaves of the trees in autumn; their memory and even their name disappears from the earth, as if they had never been. How transitory and uncertain is the life of man, who yet dwells here so securely! We cannot think of ourselves too humbly or too insignificantly; nor yet can we regard ourselves too highly, when we look up to God, to the living God, who, before the foundations of the world were laid, chose and ordained us to be his children through Christ.
Therefore the royal Psalmist, after comparing man to the grass and the flower of the field, continues, in Psalm ciï: “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; to such as keep
his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.'
And thus speaks the prophet in these moving words : • Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.' Isaiah xlix. 15, 16.
The gospel shows us the value of even one human being in the eyes of God, when Jesus made the children come to him, so little esteemed by his disciples, took them in his arms one after another, and blessed them, saying, “Of these are the kingdom of heaven; and when he described himself as the faithful shepherd, who left the ninety and nine sheep in the wilderness, to go after the one which was lost: and again, when he saith, “There shall be joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth. In our history we may well wonder at the great instruments employed, and at heaven and earth set in motion, so to speak, for the sake of one individual.
But has not God the Lord, by means of one man, blessed all the dwellers upon earth ? Has he not presented to us one Abraham for an example of righteousness by faith, and did he not by one Moses ratify the old covenant? And above all, As by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one, the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.' Every man, therefore, in the confidence of faith, may look beyond the sun and stars of heaven and
substance, yet being imperfect, and in thy book all my
did see my
members were written, which in continuance were fashioned when as yet there was none of them.'—Ps. cxxxix. 16.
' He saw in a vision evidently, about the ninth hour of the day,
an angel of God coming unto him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked upon him, he was afraid, and said, What is it Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter; he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea-side; he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.'-Acts x. 3—-8.
The history here begins to show how God drew nigh unto Cornelius, when striving diligently to find him, according to his promise, that he would manifest himself to those that seek him. This happened gradually, and by a revelation from the invisible world.
The devout, child-like believer, was not without hope that his desire for the light and countenance of God would be gratified; this was probably increased by the intelligence he had received, of the announcement of the gospel in the neighborhood of Cæsarea, particularly in Samaria, by Philip and those Christians who were exiled from Jerusalem. How often must he have sighed, “Oh! that one of these messengers of God would come unto me, to point out the path of salvation and