There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,…
I. HE WAS A DEVOUT MAN. This takes him out of the ranks of those whose religion is not a religion of devotion. The religion of too many is a religion of fashion. They are expected to go to church, to pray and sing and hear while there, but they are glad when it is over, and that it will not have to be repeated for a week. As a devout man Cornelius was —
1. Thoroughly in earnest. Earnestness alone will never take a man to heaven, but no one ever got there who was not in earnest.
2. Impressed with the majesty of God. He had realised something of the glorious character of Him with whom he had to do. Are you overshadowed by the august presence of the Most High? If not, you are not in the same category as Cornelius.
II. HE FEARED GOD WITH ALL HIS HOUSE. He took an interest in the well-being of his subordinates. He did not regard himself as a mere ruler. Too many officers treat their men as mere automata, made to stand before them in a line and go through their evolutions like machines. Is it a matter of solicitude with us that our servants should feel the power of God's grace? How many ladies speak to their maids about their souls?
III. HE GAVE MUCH ALMS TO THE PEOPLE. He was a man of large-hearted liberality. How many professing Christians would be startled if they asked the question faithfully, "What proportion of my income do I give to God?" Remember the generosity of the Pharisees, and our Lord's declaration, "Except your righteousness shall exceed," etc.
IV. HE PRAYED TO GOD ALWAYS. How many are content with a few hurried moments of prayer, and think that a trouble.
1. He prayed for greater light. Many are perfectly satisfied with their attainments, or even with their non-attainments, and prefer darkness or twilight to light.
2. He prayed like a man who expected to receive the answer. Would anything surprise some of you more than if God were to answer your prayer?
3. When his prayer was partially answered, he took pains to secure the full blessing.
V. WE HAVE SAID A GOOD DEAL IN CORNELIUS' FAVOUR: Now what do you think of him? Some may say, That is an excellence I cannot hope to attain. Stop! Cornelius, with all his excellence, was AN UNSAVED MAN. Let me not be misunderstood. He had been faithful to the light he had, and if he had been called away he would have been judged according to that, and not by a standard that he was unacquainted with. Peter lays down this principle clearly in vers. 34, 35. But Cornelius was so far unsaved that if when the gospel reached him he had rejected it, he could not have escaped condemnation (see Acts 11:14). You cannot save a man who is saved already. If so good a man could yet be a lost soul, what must be the case with many here?
(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,