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the Lord passed by and called me by his grace, when I thought not of him; surely the Lord will not suffer me to perish, when he hath enabled me to place my whole confidence in him? Then, there was nothing further from my thoughts than the Lord. amidst all my unworthiness, truly, in the worst of times, I can and do say, " Whom have I in heaven, or in earth, I desire beside thee?" And if, as the Holy Ghost hath said by Paul, "when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." (Rom. v.)
But to return to the history of the cripple. He is first represented while laying impotent at the gate of the temple, as seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, and as asking an alms. Poor man! The temple, and the temple-service, at that time, were nothing to him; only as opportunity was thereby the better afforded him for craving supplies for the body: the salvation of his soul was not in his account. And although at the time of this transaction, the wonderful event which had just before taken place, of the descent of the Holy Ghost, and of his miraculous gift of tongues to the apostles, must have come within his knowledge, in the report of which he could not have been ignorant, yet the whole affected him not! The bread that perisheth with using, bounded his desires; a total unconcern for the bread that endureth to everlasting life, marked his conduct. And who doth not behold in this event, an emblem of human nature, universally so, while unawakened, unregenerated, and uncalled, by sovereign grace ? What troops of these are found in every street, and place of public concourse; mendicants for the body, but regardless of the soul; anxious for the casket, but regardless of the jewel; wise for the moment, but lost to all concern for eternity.
"And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look
"And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them." (Acts iii. 4, 5.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
I BEG the reader to observe with me, the particularity of expression ;-" Peter fastening his eyes upon him, with John."-And was there not, (I do not speak decidedly) somewhat more than the mere impulse of nature, in this attention to the poor man? Let it be recollected, the special season when this miracle was wrought; namely, immediately after the descent of the Holy Ghost. The Son of God had said before his departure, that when the Holy Ghost was come, these signs should follow them that believed. "In my name (said Jesus) shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." (Mark xvi. 17, 18.) Here then the Lord began the display of his Almighty sovereignty in this first miracle, when the day of Pentecost was passed, in the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Moreover, as a further confirmation of this particularity of expression, in the apostles' fastening their eyes on the man; I beg to call the reader's attention to a similar miracle wrought by the instrumentality of the apostle Paul, at Lystra, as we read Acts xiv. 8, &c. This man at Lystra, as the man at Jerusalem, never had walked. But the fastening of the eyes of Paul on the cripple at Lystra, is accompanied with this further account: "that the same heard Paul speak, who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiv
ing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. Will it not be acknowledged that the cases were similar? Surely, Peter and John's fastening their eyes on the one; and Paul steadfastly beholding the other, are of the same signification. Neither is it the smallest consideration in the account, that as in the instance of the man at Lystra, the apostle, it is said, "perceived that he had faith to be healed: " evidently here, the Lord himself had prepared the man's heart by grace, for the salvation of the soul, before that the cure was wrought for the healing of the body and in both instances, we find the miracle is followed in giving praises to God. I cannot forbear also adding another observation: that as in this case at Jerusalem, the apostles Peter and John wrought the first miracle among the Jews; so this was the first with the apostles, Paul and Barnabas, which began their ministry among the Gentiles. Very blessed confirmation, that the Lord hath brought both Jew and Gentile into one fold, one church, in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
I shall not enlarge on this part of the history. But I cannot go on, until that I have first remarked what is said in this Scripture. The apostles looking to the poor cripple; and the cripple looking unto the apostles. Very different, however, were their views and feelings on this occasion. The cripple heeded only the alm; the apostles beheld him as the object of greater grace. He expected nothing but money; they wished to make known to him the riches, of divine love. His desires went no further than the supply of the wants of the body; they had an eye to the salvation of his soul. The poor cripple knew of nothing, but of the bread that perisheth with using; the apostles longed to impart to him a knowledge of the bread that endureth to everlasting life.
What a world of mystery is contained in this marvellous subject! Every reader, who is himself a partaker of grace, will enter into a spiritual apprehension of somewhat beyond what we read in the mere history; but the whole blessedness, in the salvation wrapt up in it, remains for eternity to explain !
"Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
"And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength.
"And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
"And all the people saw him walking and praising God: "And they knew that this was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him." (Acts iii. 6--10.)
NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS.
So many, and so rich a clustre of precious fruit, hang in delightful view, and to our reach, on the luxuriant boughs of this holy Scripture, that I would beg the reader to gather them one by one; and looking to the Lord for the spiritual enjoyment of them, see whether, (as the spouse speaks) our Beloved is not 'unto us as unto her, "a clustre of camphire, in the vineyards of Engedi." (Song i. 14.)
And first-Let us look to the Lord, that "his fruit may be sweet to our taste," in beholding the rich triumphs of grace in the minds of the apostles, rising above all the contemptible things of time and sense; when, from the midst of poverty, Peter could, and did proclaim his total indifference to the pos
session of every earthly good. Let any man figure to himself those poor fishermen of Galilee, thus speaking out their very heart, in sovereign contempt of all that the world holds dear; and what the whole world of carnal men are everlastingly running after, and accounting their chief good; and let him say, was ever the rich of this world put more to the blush, and the pride and opulence of the great ones more dreadfully mortified, than when, from the mouth of this humble follower of Christ, we hear him say, in a triumph of joy, to the poor cripple, "Silver and gold have I none." And what hadst thou then, Peter, for this beggar? Wherefore, with an empty pocket, like himself, didst thou bid him look unto thee? Did the apostles indeed know, that though themselves in worldly circumstances as pennyless as the mendicant, yet from the Lord they possessed that which empires cannot purchase?
Pause, reader!-Is it only then in the possession of grace, whereby the Lord's people acquire an indifferency to the mere accommodation of nature? Is this the cause which enables a man to raise above the temptation of riches, and to be in no danger of falling into the vortex, in which the whole world of carnal men, like "Korah and his company, are swallowed?" (Numbers xvi. 32.) Here then, the secret is at once explained, why so many are most miserable; whom, if riches had the power to give content, we should think most happy; and who, like their cup, is running over with what are called the good things of this life, are totally empty, and void of all comfort. While on the other hand the partaker of grace, be his lot cast ever so humble and low, hath a sweetener to every providence. He is in no danger of being captivated with the imaginary distinctions of men and things. These are to him but as the rattles and toys of children. Having Christ for his portion, in him