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its wonderful and glorious accomplishment.
To the furtherance of this great object of Almighty love, a special message, or invitation, was sent to St. Peter by the enlightened Cornelius; and at the same time it was divinely revealed to the apostle, that now the national distinction between Jew and Gentile was to ceasethat from henceforth no man, however distant and separate his descent from the faithful and chosen Abraham, was to be “called common, or unclean ;" that the men, who had been sent to call him to the house of Cornelius, were not to be refused; and that he, whose servants they were, had been graciously instructed from on high thus to send for him. Therefore, as we read, did St. Peter readily set himself to the work,-“he," as he was commanded, went with them, “ doubting nothing.” And this, brethren, as we say, this constitutes one of the interesting particulars of the chapter before us—that
thus it was that the Almighty was pleased to make manifest the counsels of his holy will, and to declare that “He would to the Gentiles also grant repentance unto life."5
Proceed we, however, now to note another particular belonging to this first preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles, which may moreover worthily and profitably claim the lively attention of those who cannot but at once perceive that the distinguished man whose name is so honourably mentioned in our text, and on account of whose piety an apostle was especially sent to Cesarea, had devoted himself, and was engaged actively and usefully in the same military profession in which they themselves are enlisted. Surely, my brethren, our attention must be pleasingly awakened when we are told that Cornelius, of whom such worthy notice is here taken, was a soldier, a centurion, that is, an officer serving in the army of the Roman emperors, and, at the time of this history, employed on duty in one of the colonies, or rather one of the conquered provinces, of that extended empire. Your attention, my brethren, we say, may be profitably directed to the description here given of the life and conversation of Cornelius.
5 Acts xi. 18.
He was a soldier, and a soldier busily engaged in the duties of his profession : and yet the honourable testimony borne to his character was, that he was “a devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.”
Ignorant and wicked is indeed the assertion that the military profession does, in its very nature and occupations, throw insuperable obstacles to the due and becoming exercise and practice of religion and virtue. It is a false and lying imagination to suppose that a soldier, be his rank high or low, must necessarily be a man careless and neglectful of the duties of religion, and that he cannot, as other christian men, rightly and savingly observe and “walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Gospel.” Take
however, my brethren, good heed how ye in any wise lay such a pleasing unction to your souls, or idly flatter and soothe your consciences with the excuse that this or that sin is not so heinous or punishable in you as in others, because of your profession; or, in other words, that your profession exposes you
to be tempted above that ye are able ;)? 6 and that consequently all will be well and peace at the last, for that the Lord will not be “extreme to mark in us what is done amiss." Had Cornelius thus given way to the temptations which did, and, we deny not, do more immediately belong to the military profession and calling,—had he lived as, unfortunately, is the manner of some modern soldiers, surely he had not been honoured and
6 1 Cor. x. 13.
rewarded with an especial and gracious message from heaven; and his name and character would not have become thus illustrious in the annals of Christianity.
We may safely affirm that Cornelius, whose praise is in the Gospel, did not spend his time in an idle or profligate manner; that his conversation was not a disgusting compound of ribaldry and profaneness, of wicked oaths and abominable language, or the mere idle utterance of "a fool after his folly.” We may safely affirm, likewise, that his study and his delight were not the mere gratifications of selfishness, nor the mere indul. gence of the animal appetites : for had he been a debauchee and profligate, or even an indolent and careless character, certainly he would not have been called “ a devout man, and one that feared God, with all his house." He was probably blessed with a family, and doubtless he took care that his children, and others with them, should be instructed to walk in the right