Page images

I pended. It is a high species of abstraction from Jews and other nations was of divine origin.

external objects; when the mind becomes forget See Rev. xxi. 2. 1 ful of surrounding things, and is fixed solely on

its own thoughts, so that appeals to the external VER. 14. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I i senses do not readily rouse it. The soul seems

have never eaten any thing that is ? common to have passed out of the body, and to be conI versant only with spiritual essences. Thus Ba

or unclean. laam is said to have seen the vision of the 1 Lev. xi. 2, &c. XX, 25. Deut. xiv. 3, &c. Ezek. iv. 14. Almighty, failing into a trance, (Num. xxiv. 4, 16 ;) thus Paul, in praying in the temple, fell I have never eaten, &c.-- In the Old Testament into a trance, (Acts xxii. 17;) and perhaps a si- God had made a distinction between clean and milar state is described in 2 Cor. xii. 2. This unclean animals. See Lev. xi. 2-27. Deut. effect seems to be caused by so intense and ab xiv. 3—20. This law remained in the Scriptures, sorbing a train of thought, as to overcome the and Peter pleaded that he had never violated it, senses of the body; or wholly to withdraw the implying that he could not now violate it, as it was mind from their influence, and to fix it on the a law of God, and as it was unrepealed, he did upseen object that engrosses it. It is often a high not dare to act in a different manner from what state of revery, or absence of mind, which Dr. it required. Between that law, and the command Rush describes as “induced by the stimulus of which he now received in the vision, there was ideas of absent subjects, being so powerful as to an apparent variation, and Peter naturally redestroy the perception of present objects." (Dis ferred to the well-known and admitted written eases of the Mind, p. 310, Ed. Phila. 1812.) In law. One design of the vision was to show him the case of Peter, however, there was a superna that that law was now to pass away. That is tural influence that drew his attention away from common.This word properly denotes that which present objects.

pertains to all, but among the Jews, who were

bound by special laws, and who were prohibited VER. 11. And saw * heaven opened, and a cer

from many things that were freely indulged in by

other nations, the word “common” came to be tain vessel descending unto him, as it had been opposed to the word sacred, and to denote that a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let which was in common use among the heathens, down to the earth :

hence that which was profane or polluted. Here

it means the same as profane, or forbidden. Unk Chap. vii. 56. Rev. xix. 11.

clean.-Ceremonially unclean ; i. e, that which is

forbidden by the ceremonial law of Moses. And saw hearen opened.-Chap. vii. 56. Note, Matt. ii. 16. This' language is derived from a

VER. 15. And the voice spake unto him again common mode of speaking in the Hebrew Scrip-| the second time, What God hath cleansed, tures, as if the sky above us was a solid, vast ex m that call not thou common. panse, and as if it were opened to present an opportunity for any thing to descend. It is language m Matt. xv. 11. Ver. 28. Rom. xiv, 14, &c. 1 Cor. x. that is highly figurative. And a certain vessel.

25. 1 Tim. iv. 4. See Note on chap. ix. 15. As it had been.-It is important to mark this expression. The sacred What God hath cleansed.- What God hath prowriter does not say that Peter literally saw such nounced or declared pure. If God has coman object descending; but he uses this as an im

manded you to do a thing, it is not impure or perfect description of the vision. It was not a

wrong. Its use is lawful if he has commanded literal descent of a vessel, but it was such a kind

Tofavessel but it was such a kind it. Perhaps Peter would have supposed that the of representation to him, producing the same

design of this vision was to instruct him, that the impression, and the same effect, as if such a ves

distinction between clean and unclean food, as sel bad descended. Knit at the four corners.

recognised by the Jews, was about to be abolishBound, united, or tied. The corners were col

ed. (Ver. 17.) But the result showed that it had lected, as would be natural in putting any thing

a higher and more important design. It was to into a great sheet.

show him, that they who had been esteemed by the Jews as unclean or profane - the entire Gen

tile world-might now be admitted to similar Ver. 12. Wherein were all manner of four privileges with the Jews. That barrier was to

footed beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and be broken down, and the whole world was to be creeping things, and fowls of the air.

admitted to the same fellowship and privileges in

the gospel. See Eph. ii. 14. Gal. iii. 28. It was 13. And there came a voice to him, Rise,

also true that the ceremonial laws of the Jews in Peter; kill, and eat.

regard to clean and unclean beasts was to pass

away, though this was not directly taught in this Wherein, &c.- This particular vision was sug vision. But when once the barrier was removed gested by Peter's hunger. (Ver. 10.) It was | that separated the Jews and Gentiles, all the laws designed, however, to teach him an important | which supposed such a distinction, and which lesson in regard to the introduction of all nations | were framed to keep up such a distinction, pass

to the gospel. Its descending from heaven may | ed away of course. The ceremonial laws of the I have been an intimation, that that religion which Jews were designed solely to keep up the dis

was about to abolish the distinction between the tinction between them and other nations. When the distinction was abolished; when other nations The Spirit.-See Note, Acts viii. 29. Comp. were to be admitted to the same privileges, the Isa. Ixv. 24. “And it shall come to pass, that laws which were made to keep up such a differ- before they call I will answer,” &c. ence received their death-blow, and expired of course. For it is a maxim of all law, that when VER. 20. Arise, P therefore, and get thee down, the reason why a law was made ceases to exist,

and go with them, doubting nothing: for I the law becomes obsolete. Yet it was not easy to convince the Jews that their laws ceased to be

have sent them. binding. This point the apostles laboured to

21. Then Peter went down to the men which establish ; and from this point arose most of the were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, difficulties between the Jewish and Gentile con

Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the verts to Christianity. See Acts xv. and Rom.

cause wherefore ye are come ? xiv. xv.

22. And they said, Cornelius the centu- ! VER. !6. This was done thrice: and the vessel rion, a just man, and one that feareth God, was received up again into heaven.

and of good report ’among all the nation of This was done thrice.-- Three times, doubtless

the Jews, was warned from God by an hols! to impress the mind of Peter with the certainty angel, to send for thee into his house, and to and importance of the vision. Comp. Gen. xli. 32. hear words of thee.

p Chap. xv. 7. y Ver. 1, &c. VER. 17. Now while Peter doubted in himself

for Chap. xxii. 12. Heb. xi. 2. what this vision which he had seen should | To hear words of thee.To be instructed by mean, behold, the men which were sent from thee. Cornelius had made inquiry » for Simon's

VER. 23. Then called he them in, and lodged | house, and stood before the gate, 18. And called, and asked whether Simon,

them. And on the morrow Peter went away which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

with them, and certain brethren from Joppa

accompanied him. n Chapix. 43.

s Ver. 45. Doubted in himself.---Doubted in his own mind. He was perplexed to understand it. Behold the

And lodged them. They remained with him men, &c. - We see here an admirable arrange.

through the night. Four days were occupied bement of the events of Providence to fit each

fore Peter met Cornelius at Cæsarea. On the other. Every part of this transaction is made to

first the angel appeared to Cornelius. On the harmonize with every other part ; and it was so

second the messengers arrived at Joppa, (ver. 9.) arranged, that just in the moment when the mind

On the third, Peter returned with them, (ver. of Peter was filled with perplexity, that the very

23 ;) and on the fourth they arrived at Cæsarea, event should occur which should relieve him of

(ver. 24, 30.) And certain brethren.-Some Chrishis embarrassment. Such a coincidence is not

tians. They were six in number, (chap. xi. 12.) uncommon. An event of Divine Providence

It was usual for the early Christians to accommay be as clear an expression of his will, and

pany the apostles in their journeys. See Rom. may as certainly serve to indicate our duty, as

xv. 24. Acts xv. 3. 3 John 6. I Cor. xvi. 6, the most manifest revelation would do, and a

11. As this was an important event in the his- ; state of mind may, by an arrangement of circum- |

tory of the church-the bearing of the gospel to stances, be produced, that shall be extremely per

a Gentile-it was more natural and proper that plexing until some event shall occur, or some

Peter should be attended with others. field of usefulness shall open, that shall exactly correspond to it, and shall indicate to us the will | VER. 24. And the morrow after they entered into of God. We should observe then the events of Cæsarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and God's providence. We should mark and record

had called together his kinsmen and near the train of our own thoughts, and we should watch with interest any event that occurs, when

friends. we are perplexed and embarrassed, to obtain, if possible, an expression of the will of God. Be- /

His kinsmen.-His relatives, or the connexions fore the gate.-The word here rendered - gate.” | of his family. A man may often do vast good by avūva, refers properly to the porch or principal | calling his kindred and friends to hear the gospel. entrance to an eastern house. See Note, Matt. ix. 2 ; xxvi. 71. It does not mean, as with us, a VER. 25. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius gate, but rather a door. See Acts xii. 13.

met him, and fell down at his feet, and wor

shipped him. VER. 19. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit o said unto him, Behold, three men

Fell down at his feet.—This was an act of pro

found regard for him as an ambassador of God. seek thee :

In oriental countries it was usual to prostrate Chap, xi, 12.

themselves at length on the ground before men of

rank and honour. Worshipped him.- This does for which Cornelius had sent for him had been not mean religious homage, but civil respect, the mentioned to Peter by the messenger, (ver. 22 ;) homage or profound regard which was due to but Peter now desired from his own lips a more one in honour. See Note, Matt. ii. 2.

particular statement of the considerations which

had induced him to send for him. For what inVER. 26. But Peter took him up, saying, 'Stand | tent.-For what purpose or design. | up: I myself also am a man.

VER. 30. And Cornelius said, Four days ago I 1 Chap. xiv. 14, 15. Rev. xix. 10; xxii. 9. was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth Stand up, &c.—This does not imply that Pe

hour I prayed in my house; and behold, a ter supposed that Cornelius intended to do him

man stood before me w in bright clothing. religious reverence. It was practically saying

w Matt. xxviii. 3. Chap. i. 10. to him, “I am nothing more than a man, as thou art, and pretend to no right to such profound re

Four days ago.-See note on ver. 23. Until spects as these, but am ready in civil life to show | this hour. –The ninth hour, or three o'clock, thee all the respect that is due."--Doddridge.

P. M. See ver. 3. A man.- Called in ver. 3, an

angel. He had the appearance of a man. Comp. VER. 27. And as he talked with him, he went | Mark xvi. 5. In bright clothing.--See Note, in, and found many that were come together. Mait. xxviii. 3.

And as he talked with him.—He probably met | Ver. 31. And said, Cornelius, thy - prayer is him at the door, or at a small distance from the

heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance house. It was an expression of joy thus to go out to meet him.

in the sight of God.

32. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither VER. 28. And he said unto them, Ye know how Simon, whose surname is Peter : he is lodged that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a in the house of one Simon a tanner, by the seaJew to keep company with, or come unto one side : who, when he cometh, shall speak unto of another nation : But God hath showed me v thee. that I should not call any man common or 33. Immediately therefore I sent to thee : unclean.

and thou hast well done that thou art come. # John iv. 9. v Chap. xv. 8, 9. Eph. iii. 6.

Now » therefore are we all here present before

God, to hear all things that are commanded It is an unlawful thing. This was not expli

thee of God. citly enjoined by Moses, but it seemed to be implied in his institutions, and was at any rate the

x Ver. 4, &c. Dan. x. 12. Heb. vi. 10.

y Deut. v. 27. common understanding of the Jews. The design was to keep them a separate people. To do this, Thou hast wcli done. This is an expression of Joses forbid alliances by contract, or marriage,

grateful feeling. Before God.- In the presence with the surrounding nations, which were idol.

of God. It is implied that they believed that God atrous. See Lev. xviii. 24–30. Deut. vii. 3—

saw them, and that they were assembled at his 12. Comp. Ezra ix. 11, 12. This command the

command, and that they were disposed to listen Jews perverted ; and explained as referring to

to his instructions. intercourse of all kinds, even to the exercise of friendly offices and commercial transactions.

VER. 34. Then Peter opened his mouth, and Comp. John iv. 9. Of another nation.-Greek, Another tribe. It refers here to all who were not

said, Of a truth I perceive that God - is n Jews. God hath showed me.-Comp. chap. xv. 8,

respecter of persons : 9. He had showed him by the vision, (ver. 11,

% Deut. x. 17. Chap. xix. 7. Job xxxiv. 19. Rom. 12.) Any man common or unclean.-See Note,

ii. 12. Gal. ii. 6. 1 Pet. i. 17. ver. 14. That no man was to be regarded as excluded from the opportunity of salvation, or be Then Peter opened his mouth.-- Began to speak. despised and abhorred. The gospel was to be (Matt. V. 2.) Of a truth.- Truly, evidently. preached to all; the barrier between Jews and That is, I have evidence here that God is no reGentiles to be broken down; and all were to be specter of persons. Is no respecter of persons. regarded as capable of being saved.

The word used here denotes the act of showing

favour to one on account of rank, family, wealth, VER, 29. Therefore came I unto you without

or partiality, arising from any cause. It is ex

plained in James ii. 1-4. A judge is a respecter gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask,

of persons when he favours one of the parties on ' therefore, for what intent ye have sent for account of private friendship; or because he is a me?

man of rank, influence, or power; or because he

belongs to the same political party, &c. The Without gainsaying.– Without saying any Jews supposed that they were peculiarly fathing against it; without hesitation or reluct- voured by God, and that salvation was not exance. I ask, therefore, &c.-- The main design tended to other nations, and that the fact of

being a Jew entitled them to this favour. Peter confined to the Jewish people, but might be exhere says that he has learned the error of this tended to all. This was what the vision was dedoctrine. That a man is not to be accepted be- signed to teach; and to communicate this to the cause he is a Jew, nor is he to be excluded be | apostles was an important step in their work of cause he is a Gentile. The barrier is broken spreading the gospel. In every nation.-Among down; the offer is made to all; and God will all people, Jews or Gentiles. Acceptance with save all on the same principle; not by external God does not depend on the fact of being deprivileges or rank, but according to their charac scended from Abraham, or of possessing external ter. The same doctrine is elsewhere explicitly | privileges, but on the state of the heart. He that stated in the New Testament. (Rom. ii. 11. Eph. feareth him.- This is put for piety towards God vi. 9. Col. iii. 25.) It may be observed here, in general. See Note, chap. ix. 31. It means that that this does not refer to the doctrine of divine he that honours God, and keeps his law; that is sovereignty or election. It simply affirms that | a true worshipper of God, according to the light God will not save a man because he is a Jew, nor and privileges which he has, is approved by him, because he is rich or learned, or of elevated as giving evidence that he is his friend. And rank ; nor by any external privileges. Nor will | worketh righteousness.—Does that which is right he exclude a man because he is destitute of these | and just. This refers to his conduct towards privileges. But this does not affirm that he will | man. He that discharges conscientiously his not make a difference in their character, and then duty to his fellow-men, and evinces by his contreat them according to their character; nor that duct that he is a righteous man. These two he will not pardon whom he pleases, which is things comprehend the whole of religion, the sum a different question. The interpretation of this of all the requirements of God-piety towards passage should be limited strictly to the case in God, and justice towards all men; and as Corhand-to mean that God will not accept and save nelius had showed these, he showed that, though a man on account of external national rank and a Gentile, he was actuated by true piety. We privileges. That by receiving some, and leaving may observe here, 1. That it is not said that others, on other grounds, he will not make a Cornelius was accepted on account of his good difference, is not any where denied. Comp. 1 works: those works were simply an evidence of Cor. iv. 7. Rom. xii. 6. It is worthy of remark true piety in the heart; a proof that he feared and further, that the most strenuous advocate for the loved God, and not a meritorious ground of acceptdoctrines of sovereignty and election in the New ance. 2. He improved the light which he had. Testament (the apostle Paul) is also the one that 3. He embraced the Saviour when he was offered laboured most to establish the doctrine that God to him. This circumstance makes an essential was no respecter of persons; that is, that there difference between the case of Cornelius, and ! was no difference between the Jews and Gentiles those who depend on their morality in Christian in regard to the way of salvation ; that God lands. They do not embrace the Lord Jesus, and would not save a man because he was a Jew, nor they are therefore totally unlike the Roman cendestroy a man because he was a Gentile. Yet in turion. His example should not be pleaded, regard to the whole race viewed as lying on a therefore, by those who neglect the Saviour, for level, he maintained that God had a right to ex- | it furnishes no evidence that they will be ac- ! ercise the prerogatives of a sovereign, and to cepted, when they are totally unlike him. have mercy on whom he would have mercy. The doctrine may be thus stated. (1.) The barrier VER. 36. The word which God sent unto the between the Jews and Gentiles was broken down. children of Israel, preaching peace • by Jesus (2.) All men were thus placed on a level-none

Christ; (he is Lord of all ;) to be saved by external privileges, none to be lost by the want of them. (3.) All were guilty, 6 Isa, lvii. 19. Col. i. 20. c Psa. xxiv. 7-10. Matt. (Rom. i. ii. iii.) and none had a claim on God. xxviii. 18. Rom. xiv. 9. I Cor. xv. 27. Epb. i. 20-22 (4.) If any were saved, it would be by God's

1 Pet. iii. 22. Rev. xvii. 14. showing mercy on such of this common mass as The word. That is, this is the word or the doche chose. See Rom. iii. 22 ; x. 12; ii. 11. Gal. trine. Few passages in the New Testament bave ii. 6. Compared with Rom. ix, and Eph. i.

perplexed critics more than this. It has been

difficult to ascertain to what the term “ word," in VER. 35. But in a every nation, he that feareth the accusative case, (Tòv Nóyov,) here refers. him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted

Our translation would lead us to suppose that it is

synonymous with what is said in the following with him.

verse. But it should be remarked, that the term a Rom. ii. 13, 27 ; iii. 22. 29; x. 12, 13. Eph. ii. 13-18.

used there, and translated “ word," as if it were

a repetition of what is said here, is a different But in every nation, &c. - This is given as a | term. It is not lóyov, but pina-a word, a reason for what Peter had just said, that God thing; not a doctrine. I understand the first was no respecter of persons. The sense is, that term “word" to be an introduction of the doche now perceived that the favours of God were trine which Peter set forth, and to be governed not confined to the Jew, but might be extended by a preposition understood. The whole passage to all others on the same principle. The remark- may be thus expressed: Peter had been asked to able circumstances here, the vision to him, and teach Cornelius and his assembled friends. It to Cornelius, and the declaration that the alms was expected, of course, that he would instruct of Cornelius were accepted, now convinced Pe- | him in regard to the true doctrines of religionter that the favours of God were no longer to be the doctrine which had been communicated to the

Jews. He commences, therefore, with a statement with the Holy Ghost and with power, who respecting the true doctrine of the Messiah, or the

cwent about doing good, and healing all that way of salvation which was now made known to the Jews. In regard to the “ word,” or the doctrine

were oppressed of the devil: for 8 God was which God sent to the children of Israel, pro

with him. claiming peace through Jesus Christ, (who is

e Matt. xii. 15. f 1 John iii. 8. Lord of all,) you know already that which was

g John iii. 2. done, or the transactions which occurred through

How God anointed, &c.—That is, set him apart out all Judea, from Galilee, where he commenced to this work, and was with him acknowledging after John had preached, that this was by Jesus

him as the Messiah. See Note, Matt.i. l. With the Christ, since God had anointed him, &c. Peter

Holy Ghost.-See Note, Luke iv. 9. The act of i here assumes that Cornelius had some knowledge

anointing the kings and priests seems to have of the principal events of the life of the Saviour,

been emblematic of the influences of the Holy į though it was obscure and imperfect; and his

Ghost. Here it means that God communicated discourse professes only to state this more fully

to him the influences of the Holy Spirit, thus and clearly. He commences his discourse with

setting him apart for the work of the Messiah. stating the true doctrine on the subject; and ex

See Matt. iii. 16, 17. John iii. 34, “ God giveth plaining more perfectly that of which Cornelius

not the Spirit by measure unto him." And with had been only imperfectly informed. Unto the

power.-The power of healing the sick, raising children of Israel. - To the Jews. The Messiah

the dead, &c. Who went about doing good. was promised to them, and spent his life among

Whose main business it was to travel from place them. Preaching.-- That is, proclaiming, or an

to place to do good. He did not go for applause, nouncing. God did this by Jesus Christ. Peace.

or wealth, or comfort, or ease, but to diffuse | - This word sometimes refers to the peace or

happiness as far as possible. This is the simple union which was made between Jews and Gen

but sublime record of his life. This, in few, but tiles, by breaking down the wall of division be

most affecting words, tells us all about the Satween them. But it is here used in a wider

viour: it gives us a distinct portrait of his chasense, to denote peace or reconciliation with God.

racter, as he is distinguished from conquerors He announced the way by which man might be

and kings, and false prophets and the mass of , reconciled to God, and might find peace. He is

men. And healing, &c.--Restoring to health. Lord of all. That is, Jesus Christ. He is So

All that were oppressed of the devil. — All that vereign, or Ruler, of both Jews and Gentiles ;

were possessed by him. See Note, Matt. iv. 23, he is their proprietor ; and hence Peter saw the

24. God was with him.-God appointed him, and propriety of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles

furnished by his miracles the highest evidence as well as Jews. See John xvii. 2. Matt. xxviii.

that he had sent him. His miracles were such 18. Eph. i. 20—22. This does not necessarily

that they could be wrought only by God. imply divinity; but only that the Lord Jesus, as Mediator, had been constituted or appointed Lord over all nations. It is true, however, that

VER. 39. And we hare witnesses of all things this is a power which we cannot conceive to which he did both in the land of the Jews, and have been delegated to one that was not divine. in Jerusalem ; whom they slew, and hanged on Comp. Rom. ix. 5.

a tree : VER. 37. That word, I say, ye know, which was

h Luke xxiv. 48. Chap. iii. 32. published throughout all Judea, and began

And we are witnesses.- We who are apostles. from Galilee, after the baptism whieh John

See Note, Luke xxiv. 48. In the land of the Jews. preached :

- In the country of Judea. Whom they slew, &c.

-Our translation would seem to imply that there That word.- Greek, pñua-a different word were two separate acts; first slaying him, and from that in the previous verse. It may be trans then suspending him. But this is neither aclated "thing" as well as “ word.” Which was pub cording to truth nor to the Greek text. The bished.-Greek, Which was done. “You know, original is simply, “whom they put to death, though it may be imperfectly, what was done or suspending him on a tree.” On a tree.—On a accomplished in Judea," &c. Throughout all Judea. cross. See Note, chap. v. 30. - The miracles of Christ were not confined to any place, but were wrought in every part of the

VER. 40. Him God raised up i the third day, and land. For an account of the divisions of Palestine, see Notes, Matt. ïi. 22. And began, &c.

shewed him openly, -Greek, Having been begun in Galilee. Gali

i Matt. xxviii. 1, 2. 1' lee was not far from Cæsarea. There, was, therefore, the more probability that Cornelius had

Shewed him openly.- Manifestly; so that there beard of what had occurred there. Indeed, the

could be no deception, no doubt of his resurrecLos pels themselves furnish the highest evidence

tion. that the fame of the miracles of Christ spread ito all the surrounding regions.

VER. 41. Not i to all the people, but unto witV'ER. 38. How God anointed « Jesus of Nazareth

nesses chosen before * of God, even to us, who d Luke xiv. 18. Heb. i. 9.

; John xiv. 22 ; xx. and axi. k John xv. 16.

« PreviousContinue »