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The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'-As the Gospel is more glorious than the law, the festival of the new covenant is more so than the Sabbath of the old. The Sabbath of the law concluded the week, and followed the days of labor; it was a ray
after the six week-days of pain and toil—and a consoling promise, that there remained a rest for the people of God. Our Gospel day of rest precedes our week-days, as the day of reconciliation and of the righteousness and peace purchased for us. It is the resurrection day of our Lord and Savior, the pledge of our own resurrection; and the seal of our perfect redemption. In it we solemnize a weekly feast of Easter, a heavenly familyday, and assemble in the house of God, not as 'strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.' This day teaches us our intimate connection with each other, and our fellowship with the saints above, being all members of one body, of which Christ is the head, who is the way, the truth, and the life, through whom alone we come to the Father. Therefore, we offer up prayer unto the Lord, and praise him with spiritual songs. He is in the midst of us, and causes us to receive his Gospel. God made
the Sabbath for man, whom he created in his own image; and through his Gospel he has exalted it into a Sun-day, or day of Suns, on which the Sun of Righteousness shines upon all with healing in his wings.
The following verses set before us a picture of such an assemblage, the first that met together in a Gentile house.
* And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain
brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Cæsarea. 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. 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 come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, so soon as I was sent for; I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send, therefore, to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner, by the seaside, who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.'-Acts x. 23–33.
Here we have the much desired arrival of the Apostle Peter in the house of Cornelius at Cæsarea, on the fourth day after the latter had received the command of the angel to send to Joppa. The messengers had arrived there on the first day; Peter lodged them all night, and set out with them on the morrow, accompanied by six other brethren, believers of the Jewish nation. They arrived on the fourth day, and were received with great joy. The history of this reception merits our attention. We see in the Centurion, and those who were assembled for a similar
himself, a little community seeking peace and truth. Gentiles by nature, they may well serve as examples to us.
The two principal persons in our history now meet together,—the Roman Centurion and the Apostle of our Lord. In the first, we see a picture of human nature, longing for the freedom of the children of God; in the second, the ambassador of Christ, the Word and Life that came down from heaven, through whom alone that freedom can be attained.
Let us direct our attention to Cornelius, and to his desire for peace and truth.
We are acquainted with the Centurion already, and know that the solicitude of his heart was to come to the knowledge and possession of the truth. He was devout, and feared God; the aspirations of his soul were directed upwards, and his own desire, as well as that of his whole house, was to be at peace with God and in fellowship with his heavenly Father.
The small seed of the everlasting word, although it may be crushed and concealed, lies hid in the inmost
heart of every one, and in the very depth of his being. The most erring and the most fallen can never entirely divest himself of it ;-it is this which constitutes him man, and is the indestructible witness that God the Lord made him in his own image. Even though the interior light be greatly darkened by the power of Satan, and man's own grovelling desires, yet, beneath this very darkness, there is a concealed light; and the most ab. ject superstition which bows the knee to a piece of wood or metal, bears witness to a lost faith, long past away, and shows an unconscious desire ever seeking after truth. As there is no one without a conscience, and no mother's heart without love for her child, so there is no man without some kind of religion. The Lord Jesus made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, and even recalled dead bodies into life; so the influence of divine light, and the power of the Highest, awakens and enlivens the dead word of eternal life, and frees it from the bonds of darkness.
When man becomes conscious of the Word, concealed in the depths of his soul, and desires help and light from heaven, it is the germinating of the hidden seed.
If man love darkness more than light, he can destroy this seed in two ways; either by forsaking spiritual, and giving himself up to worldly pleasures, or by dreaming that he is partaking of God's grace, while wandering in a path chosen by himself. The heathen did the first, when, giving themselves up to the world, they materialized the glory of the incorruptible God; and, falling into deeper and deeper darkness, at last sunk into brutishness, and the most grovelling idolatry. For this
reason Paul began his sermon to the Athenians with the announcement of the unknown God.' The second was the manner of the Pharisees, who, wedded to Judaism, and blinded by their own selfish dreams, imagined that through the works of the law, they could render themselves acceptable to God, and procure their own salvation. From this proceeded their self-righteousness, which opposed the Gospel, and considered all those in darkness who differed from themselves.
Heathenism had long ceased to obscure the mental vision of Cornelius, for light from above had found its way into the depths of his heart. He acknowledged and reverenced the one true God, and faithfully used every means which his acquaintance with the Jews and their sacred writings afforded, in order to increase his knowledge. Though he and his household were Gentiles outwardly, yet in spirit and faith they were Jews; and the more they knew God and his revelation, the stronger became their desire for His grace and fellowship. It was not through means chosen by himself that he sought to obtain them ; but it was according to the law of God, and the custom of Israel, through fasting, alms, and prayers.
This, however, was of no avail, so long as the approbation and grace of God were wanting. Through the law, there is no man righteous before him, ' for by the law is the knowledge of sin ;' and the greater man's effort to fulfil it, the more vividly he perceives his distance from the true light, in which there is neither shadow nor darkness. For by grace are ye saved through faith ; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.' Eph. ii. 8, 9.