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and again bidden to prepare : "Be ye also ready,” are his words to us; and the wise resolve of the psalmist ought to be our determination, “to make haste, and prolong not the time, to keep the commandments of the Lord." 8
Let us, my brethren, at this solemn season of the christian year, when we are more particularly invited to approach and to contemplate Jesus dying on the cross for us men and for our salvation let us give ourselves to the reading and the study of the singular and great love of our Master and only Saviour. Let us behold and examine his obedience unto death, and his hearty and persevering readiness to do all things pertaining to God, and the welfare of his friends : and “we are his friends," if we in honesty and integrity of purpose strive to do whatsoever he hath commanded us : and though imperfection will accompany and clog our best services, yet a willing obedience to his precepts, 7 Luke xii. 40.
8 Ps. cxix. 60.
and stedfast faith in the merits of his most precious sufferings and death, shall avail us much in that awful hour which Jesus, in all the divinity of his eternal truth, so sublimely himself announced before his banded enemies-even that terrible and fearful time, when “the Son of man shall be seen sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven;" 9 when judgment shall be had upon all flesh; and the wide and unalterable distinction shall then be made 6 between the righteous and the wicked, between him who hath served God, and him who hath served him not.” 1
9 Matt. xxvi. 64.
1 Mal. iii, 18.
CORNELIUS, THE ROMAN SOLDIER.
ActS x. 22.
Cornelius, the centurion, a just man, and one that
The chapter, my brethren, which contains the history in which these words occur, ought to be read by us with deep attention, for the subject-matter highly concerns us on more than one momentous point.
Among the miraculous occurrences which marked the first preaching and establishment, and the early progress of the
Gospel, there are few incidents more worthy our admiration, or which more beautifully display the grace, the mercy, and truth of the Almighty, than the narrative here presented to our notice, and which forms so fit a subject for the consideration of military men.
This history, then, now before us is the very pleasing and instructive account of the conversion of Cornelius, a man and a soldier, specially approved and selected by the Almighty to be the first-fruits of that vast multitude of “ all kindreds, nations, and languages,” unto whom the Gospel was in the fulness of time” to be freely offered, and among whom was to be preached for their acceptance the enlarged and Christian doctrine, “ that God is no respecter of persons : but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”ı
It was indeed fitting, it was so ordained in the all-wise counsels of the Most High, that “the word of God,” “ the preaching of the baptism of repentance for the remission of sin," and the doctrine of salvation through Christ, should be first delivered to the Jewish nation. And the apostles, in accordance with their divine commission, did so begin at Jerusalem. But this having been done,” the word of God having been first spoken to the Jews,"? and by them put away and rejected to their own irretrievable loss, the saving truths of the Gospel, the infinite extent of God's mercy and love in Christ towards all men ; these tidings of great good were not to be henceforward confined within the narrow bounds of Judea. “God's ways were to be made known universally on the earth, his saving health among all nations.” It was to have free course and abound. phetic word of Isaiah, “The Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising," was to receive 2 Acts xiii. 46, 3 Ps. lxvii. 2. * Isa. lx. 3.
1 Acts x. 34, 35.