Acts 4:14
We gather from these words -

I. THAT LEARNING IS NOT NECESSARY TO GOODNESS. The persecutors of Peter and John "perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men;" not uneducated men, in the worst sense of that term, but lacking in the higher culture of their time. But though thus comparatively unlearned, they were men of strong faith, of true piety, of godly zeal, admirable in the sight of men, acceptable servants of Jesus Christ. Human learning is a desirable, but it is far from being, a necessary, thing to excellence of character or nobility of life.

II. THAT COURAGE IN THE CONDUCT OF THE GOOD WILL ARREST THE ATTENTION OF THOSE WHO ARE IN THE WRONG. "When they saw the boldness of Peter and John... they marveled." Whatever virtues are unappreciated by the ungodly, courage always enlists attention and provokes admiration. Be brave, and you will be heard; stand to your colors with undaunted spirit, and men will, however reluctantly, yield you their respect.

III. THAT ASSOCIATION WITH JESUS CHRIST WILL ACCOUNT FOR ANY EXCELLENCY OF CHARACTER. When the priests and elders wanted to account to themselves for the boldness of these two men they remembered their connection with Christ, and were no longer at fault. That will account for anything that is good. Much intimacy with him who "regarded not the person of man" will always make men brave; frequent communion with that Holy One of God will always make men pure of heart; close friendship with him who came to lay down his life for the sheep will always make men unselfish, etc.

IV. THAT THE REST THINGS ABOUT HUMAN CHARACTER ARE THOSE WHICH ARE SUGGESTIVE OF JESUS CHRIST. There is nothing which is such a tribute to human worth as that men are thereby reminded of Christ. What impression are we most anxious to convey about ourselves? The answer to that question will be a sure criterion of our spiritual standing. If we are nearing the goal which is set before us, if we are attaining to any real height of Christian excellency, we shall he truly and earnestly solicitous that our constant spirit and daily behavior will be suggestive of the temper and the principles of Jesus Christ our Lord. - C.







And beholding the man which was healed... they could say nothing against it.
Homiletic Monthly.
"Have you ever heard the gospel before?" asked an Englishman at Ningpo of a respectable Chinaman, whom he had not seen in his mission-room before. "No," he replied, "but I have seen it. I know a man who used to be the terror of his neighbourhood. If you gave him a hard word he would shout at you, and curse you for two days ariel nights without ceasing. He was as dangerous as a wild beast, and a bad opium smoker; but when the religion of Jesus took hold of him he became wholly changed. He is gentle, moral, not soon angry, and has left off opium. Truly, the teaching is good!"

(Homiletic Monthly.)

I. THE MOUTHS OF THE RULERS WERE CLOSED. They could say nothing against the miracle —

1. As a fact. There was the man; that he was lame, that he now walked they all knew. There are equally incontrovertible facts to-day. Men are sober who were once drunkards, honest who were once thieves, and the enemy cannot deny it.

2. As blessed fact. Not a man amongst them but would have confessed that lameness was a misfortune, and the cure of it a blessing. Similarly when sceptics see lives, homes, circumstances transformed by the power of the gospel, they can say nothing against the blessedness of the transformation.

II. THE MOUTHS OF THE RULERS SHOULD HAVE BEEN OPENED. If they could say nothing against the fact they ought to have said something for it.

1. They should have accounted for it. If they rejected the apostles' hypothesis of the cure they should have framed one more satisfactory. And so now. The blessed facts of moral healing have to be accounted for, and sceptics are bound logically to account for them. The process requires painstaking and honest research, and candour when the conclusion is reached. But no one has ever reached but one conclusion which will satisfy all the conditions of the case — the name of Jesus of Nazareth.

2. They should have been grateful for it and encouraged its repetition. However much it may have gone athwart their convictions, at least the sum of human misery was by so much reduced and the sum of human happiness augmented — why, then, net more? The Marquis of Queensberry candidly confessed his disbelief in Christianity, but he could not ignore the blessedness of its results, and so in logical consistency with the knowledge which should have upset his illogical unbelief contributed to General Booth's scheme.

III. THE MOUTH OF THE RULERS WAS OPENED.

1. In secret confession of the truth of the fact (ver. 16). And there is much of this nowadays Not all of it is like that before us hypocritical. Many sceptics are privately convinced of the unsoundness of their position, and many heathen are secretly convinced of the truth of Christianity. Let us hope that both may come into the public light. But these rulers, like others to-day, "love darkness rather than light," etc.

2. In open prohibition of its repetition (ver. 18). What a result! Here were men objecting to other men being made healthy and happy. Why? Because it was done in an objectionable way. Let us not be surprised, for there are doctors who forbid the use of any remedies that are not in their pharmacopoeia, although the use of those remedies has been proved to be beneficial, and there are also Christians who forbid a certain style of preaching and preachers although they convert souls.

3. Ineffectually. The mouth of the rulers was opened to close those of the apostles, instead of which mouths which were open all along opened wider.

(1)In emphatic and persistent testimony (vers. 19, 20).

(2)In powerful and prevailing prayer (ver. 24, etc.).

(J. W. Burn.)

1. It is no new thing for the gospel to be opposed.

2. Nor a strange thing for the great, the official, the powerful, and the influential to be foremost in such opposition. The opposition of ungodly men is —

(1)Natural, seeing that the heart of man is depraved.

(2)Endurable, since our Lord and His apostles suffered it.

(3)Harmless, if we commit the case to God.

(4)Overruled for good by Divine grace and wise providence.

3. The best and perhaps the only way to silence opposition is by exhibiting the blessed results which follow from the gospel.

4. Those who would say anything if they could, can say nothing of what they would, when they see before their eyes the cures wrought by the word of the Lord Jesus. "The man that was healed" is our best apologist. Better than Paley's "Evidences," or Butler's "Analogy," is the proof given by results.

I. THE GOSPEL IS VINDICATED BY ITS RESULTS.

1. On a broad scale in nations. England, the islands of the Pacific, Jamaica, Madagascar, etc.

2. In individual conversions from open sin. Some of the worst of men have become clear instances of the purifying power of the gospel.

3. In restoring to hope the comfortless and despairing. Very marvellous is its efficacy in the direction of healing mental maladies.

4. In elevating saints above selfish aims and designs, and inducing heroic consecrations. The biographies of gracious men and women are demonstrations of the Divine power of the Word.

5. In sustaining character under fierce temptation. Wonderful is the preserving salt of grace amid surrounding putrefaction.

6. In holy and happy death-beds. These are plentiful throughout history, among all ranks; and they never fail to convince the candid. Many another catalogue of results might be made. Many a man is unable to be an infidel because of what he has seen in his mother, wife, or child.

II. GOSPEL-WORKS AND WORKERS MUST LOOK FOR LIKE VINDICATION. Nowadays men ask for results: the tree must bear fruit, or the cry is, "Cut it down." We do not shrink from this test.

1. The minister must find in his converts a proof of his call, and a defence of his doctrines, methods, peculiarities, etc.

2. A society, college, or institution must stand or fall by its fruits.

3. The individual professor must abide the same test.

4. The Church in any place, and the Church on the largest scale, must be tried by similar methods.

5. Even our Lord Himself loses or gains honour among men according as His followers behave themselves.

III. THE GOSPEL AND ITS WORKERS DESERVE VINDICATION AT OUR HANDS. Those who are healed should boldly stand with Peter and John as witnesses and fellow workers. This suggests a series of practical questions: —

1. Has it produced blessed results in us?

2. Have we come forward to stand with the preachers of it in evidence that it has wrought our cure? Are we continually witnessing to the truth and value of the gospel of Christ?

3. Does the influence of the gospel upon us so continue and increase unto holiness of life as to be a credit to its influence?

4. Are there not points in our character which harm the repute of the gospel? Should not these be amended at once?

5. Could we not henceforth so live as more effectually to silence the opponents of the Word? Let the Church plainly see that her converts are her best defence: they are, in fact, her reason for existence. Let converts see the reason why they should come forward and declare their faith, and unite with the people of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The behaviour of some professors has often given the wicked an opportunity to reproach religion. reports, that the heathen were wont to say, "The Master could not be good, when His disciples were so bad." The malice of sinners is such that they will reproach the rectitude of the law, for the obliquity of their lives who swerve from it. Oh that your pure life did but hang a padlock upon their impure lips!

(William Secker.)

Certain gentlemen waited upon Rev. Matthew Wilks to complain of the eccentricities of his discourses. Wilks heard them through, and then produced a long list of names. "There," said the quaint divine, "all those precious souls profess to have found salvation through what you are pleased to call my whims and oddities. Can you produce a similar list from all the sober brethren you have been so much extolling? " This was conclusive: they withdrew in silence.

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