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womb. Many that were lame were doubtlefs made whole (for so the evangelists in general words testify) by Christ himself; buľ as this man was laid daily at the gate
of the temple, whither our Lord also daily resorted; he feems, in the divine disposal of things, to have been purposely reserved for this oci casion.
Nor was this any hardship to him who endured it ; even if we set aside, for a moment, the general consideration, that the most miserable among men suffer less than the best of men deserve. Two or three years more of painless infirmity were not worthy to be mentioned, when he was to be an instance, perhaps the first instance, of the wonderful power given to the apostles; and to be recorded, to all ages, as a glorious instrument of the increase and confirmation of the gospel. The ways of providence are oftentimes more especially gracious and merciful, where at first they may appear least of all to be fo.
Jesus,” saith St. John, “ loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. “ Therefore," it is added, even for this very reason, because
& See Matt. xi. 5. with Luke vii. 21, 22. See also Matt. XV. 31. xxi. 14. in which laft instance the miracle was wrought in the temple.
he loved him, he healed not his fickness, but made him an example of a greater miracle, and greater blessing, by raising him from the dead.
This illustrious miracle, of healing the lame man in the temple, was, on several accounts, of important use to the faith. In consequence hereof, and by the blessing of God upon the preaching of the apostles, "! the number of the men” was now aug: mented to " about five thousand."
It was likewise attended with another circumstance, of fingular advantage to that, and every succeeding, age of the church. For Peter and John, who had publicly wrought this miraculous cure, being thereupon imprisoned, were brought before the high priest, and rulers of the Jews; that the doctrine of Christ crucified and raised from the dead might be scrutinised, in its very infancy, by those, who wanted neither means, nor inclination, to detect the forgery, had there been any in the case ; nor zeal, nor power, to punish the contrivers, could they have convicted them. They were dismissed with threats; for their enemies, with whom the
John xi. 5, 6.
f Acts iv. 4.
shadow of a proof would have been ample confirmation, could find nothing against them. They recognised their persons, and knew they had been with Jesus; and the man “ above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed," was standing by, and they could not deny it %.
The cause of truth having, thus at first, stood the test of a public trial, a second investigation was, for a while, less necessary. When therefore the apostles were, soon afterwards, apprehended, that providence of God, which doeth nothing in vain, and which, in the former instance, had suffered the truth, as it were, to defend itself; now fent an holy angel, and opened the prison doors, and brought forth the apostles, to preach early in the temple, that the work of salvation might not be impeded ". The day, nevertheless, did not pass over them, ere they were again arraigned before the council. But when they would have sain them, they were restrained from their purpose, by the advice of Gamaliel ; who justly argued, that if the work were of men, it would come to nought; but if it were of God, it could not be overthrown.
8 A&ts iv, 13, 14. 21, 22. 16.
• Ibid. iv, 17. &c.
As we proceed, we perceive another mark of the increafe of the church, in the appointment of seven deacons, to superintend the business of relieving the poor ; but with authority also to preach, and to baptize'. · One of this number, St. Stephen, disputing against his adversaries with irresistible power, and having, in the face of the Sanhedrim, proved, by a plain enumeration of facts, that they always opposed the truth; and that, as their fathers flew the prophets, who foreThewed the coming of the just One, so they had now betrayed and murdered him ; for these things, which they could not gainsay, he was put to death, and had the honour of being the first, who sealed, with his blood, the testimony of Jesus k.
At this time, about the end of the year thirty three, there was a great persecution, against the church in Jerusalem '; which however,
like many subsequent persecutions, tended eventually, though not in the way sometimes represented, to the furtherance of the gospel". All, except the apostles, were
i AEts vi.
1 Ibid. viii. 1. &c. See Phil, i. 12. Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria in the third century, remarks, in the case of his own banishment,
fcattered abroad ; and many, by this means, heard and embraced the word of life, who would not otherwise, or not fo foon, have known it. Philip the deacon converted and baptized many of the Samaritans; whereupon the apostles sent Peter and John, to confer on them the gift of the Holy Ghost. Others travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch ; " and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” On this occasion too, an Ethiopian eunuch, a man of authority, and a profelyte, as it seems, to the Jews' religion, being taught the gospel by Philip, carried the glad tidings into regions still more remote.
In the persecution of Stephen, and the more general one that ensued, Saul had acted with furious zeal; but he “ obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly, in unbelief o. As he was going towards Damascus, breathing threatnings and slaughter, at mid-day He,
that the word was, by this means, planted among fome, who had not before received it; and that, as if God had sent him for this very purpose, when he had fulfilled this office, He conducted him back. Vide Eur. H. E. L. VII. c. xi, et confer Chryfoft. in viii. Ac, T. IV. p.713. 1. 35. n Acts xi. 19-21.
1 Tim. i, 13