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PETER AND JOHN
HEALING THE CRIPPLE
GATE OF THE TEMPLE.
"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
"And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple ;
"Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms." (Acts iii. 1-3.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
THERE is somewhat particularly striking in the opening of this Scripture history; I mean, in relation both to the place, and time, in which this miracle of the cripple being healed was wrought. The Holy Ghost hath been pleased to have it thus recorded; and it will be our wisdom humbly to follow his footsteps in an enquiry into the cause.
In respect to the place, the gate of the temple; there is much significance in it. Where should the helpless, under the crippled state of our fallen nature, be lain, but in the way of ordinances? In the memoirs of our adorable Lord, in the days of his flesh, we read that such was the earnestness of the people for healing, when they saw the miracles
that Jesus did," they began to carry about in beds those that were sick, where they heard he was. And wheresoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him, that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment; and as many as touched him were made whole." (Mark vi. 55, 56.) What a most beautiful view, (by the way it may be observed,) is here given of our most glorious Lord!
In respect to the time; this is not less significant. It was the "hour of prayer, being the ninth hour." The Jews were accustomed to count the twelve hours of the day; beginning from six in the morning, to six at night. Hence, the ninth hour corresponded to our three o'clock in the afternoon. And this was the ever-memorable, and never-to-be-forgotten hour, when the Son of God in our nature, having hung six hours on the cross, from the third hour (namely, nine o'clock in the morning, to three in the afternoon) to the ninth; then with a loud voice, that all in heaven, and earth, and hell, might hear, cried out, "It is finished. And he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." (John xix. 30.)
I pause to admire the wonderful expression of our Lord. What was finished? Redemption-work was finished. All the types and shadows of the law were finished. The substance being come, the shadow fled away. Every sacrifice and offering, from the first of Abel, in the garden of Eden, through the whole of the dispensation under the law, to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, were now no longer useful. They had all ministered to this one purpose; and now for ever ceased. Christ, by that "one offering of him self, once offered, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Heb. x. iv.) Hence, therefore, we in some measure discover why the Holy Ghost hath so particularized the hour of the
apostle's going up to the temple at the hour of prayer; "being the ninth hour." This was the hour appointed all along, through the whole temple-service, as the hour of the evening sacrifice. And although these offerings were but shadowy representations of the glorious thing signified; yet the Holy Ghost would have them all expressly observed in the same hour. Hence we read, that Daniel, when favoured with that sublime vision concerning Christ's coming, it was "at the time of the evening oblation." (Dan. ix. 24.) Hence Zacharias was engaged in the temple-service at the time of the vision, delivered to him concerning also Christ. (Compare Luke i. 9. with Exod. iii. 7, 8.)
And if I pause one moment longer over the view of this ninth hour, which God the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to mark with so much emphasis; it shall only be to observe, that as there seems to have been such a blessed coincidence in the healing of this cripple at the gate of the temple, solely by the adorable name of Christ, at the self-same hour as Christ, by his death on the cross, had founded the means of salvation to his chosen ones; it merits the closest attention of all the Lord's people to look at it very specially in this view. And I venture to observe yet further; that the redeemed and regenerated child of God, would find much sweetness of the savour of the Lord Jesus Christ on his soul, as often as at this ninth hour the Holy Ghost, the Remembrancer of Christ, brought to his recollection the wondrous event. For to realize spiritually in the mind and conscience, and understanding, the person of Christ, and the work of Christ; and as the apostle expresseth it, "to know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings" this is the very life of the soul; and which tendeth to raise the soul to the very suburbs of
heaven. For that child of God thereby proves his adoption; and as such, doth to all intents and purposes partake in the same. It were therefore an object of attainment, much to be desired, under the divine unction; though the privilege doth not seem, even by the Lord's people, to be sufficiently known; or at least, not so generally brought into daily enjoyment, as the infinite preciousness of it should seem to recommend.
The history begins in that plain simple manner of narrative, which forms a prominent feature of distinction to mark the word of God. "A certain man lame from his mother's womb." And may we not, without violence to the subject, consider this certain man, a cripple from the womb, an apt representation of any man, and every man, who, from the Adam-fall transgression, are all alike crippled in our faculties, both of body and mind; yea, more than crippled ; being spiritually "dead in trespasses and sins?" (Eph. ii. 1.) It is said in the following chapter, (verse 22.) that he was "above forty years old," at the time this miracle of healing was shewn him. So that though, very probably, for many a year; and perhaps nearly from his birth, he had been laid daily at the gate of the temple, to get alms; yet however conscious of the lameness of his body, there had never been, to this hour, when the apostles first saw him, any consciousness of the dead estate of his soul; and consequently, no desire, or even the knowledge of the needs-be of salvation.
This view of the subject will be sensibly felt, and indeed so felt, as to become an heart-melting subject to every redeemed and regenerated child of God. Where was I, (will form a question, more or less, arising in the breast,) when the Lord passed by, and called me by his grace? Not, perhaps, like this cripple, even at the gate of the temple; but far remote
from the house of God, or froin the desire of the love of God; "but living without God, and without Christ in the world." What a beautiful illustration of God's preventing and sovereign grace hath the Lord himself given of this subject, by one of his prophets. Under the similitude of an infant just born, and cast out to perish, the Lord, the Holy Ghost, represents the shadowy description of our fallen nature, left in spiritual deadness and death, when the Lord passed by and bid us live. In the day that thou wast born, none eye pitied thee, to have compassion upon thee, but thou wast cast out in the open field, to the loathing of thy person. And when I passed by thee, and saw thee polluted in thine own blood, I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, Live. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was a time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine." (Ezekiel xvi. 4-8.)
It is most blessed when we are spiritually made alive, and brought to see somewhat of our mercies ; to look back, and behold how the Lord first made known to us the riches of his grace; where we were engaged; and in what state the Lord found us; and what a time of love that was in the Lord; when with us, our time was the deepest misery! Let not the reader pass away from the subject until that he hath first made it somewhat personal. Such lookings back, when once the Lord hath brought us by sovereign grace to be looking forward in a well-grounded hope in Christ, not only ministers to humble the soul, and to exalt and endear Christ; but also, it tends to comfort and encourage the child of God against all the exercises which he may be yet called unto. For if