Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled…
The grace of God, which St. Peter's character and story specially forces on our notice, is the true courage which comes by faith. There is a courage which does not come by faith, but from hardness of heart, obstinacy, anger, or stupidity, which does not see danger or feel pain. That is the courage of the brute. One does not blame it. It is good in its place, as all things are which God has made. It is good enough for the brute; but it is not good enough for man. You cannot trust it in man. And the more a man is what a man should be, the less he can trust it. The more mind a man has, so as to be able to foresee danger and measure it, the more chance there is of his brute courage giving way. The more feeling a man has the more chance there is of his brute courage breaking down, just when he wants it more to keep him up, and leaving him to play the coward and come to shame. Yes; to go through with a difficult or dangerous undertaking. a man wants more than brute courage. He needs to have faith in what he is doing to be certain that he is in the right. Look at the class of men who in times of peace undergo the most fearful dangers. Not a week passes without one or more of them, in trying to save life and property, doing things which are altogether heroic. What keeps them up to their work? High pay? The amusement and excitement of the fires? The vanity of being praised for their courage? Those are motives which would not keep a man's heart calm and his head clear under such responsibility and danger as theirs. No; it is the sense of duty. The knowledge that they are doing a good and noble work, that they are in God's hands, and that no evil can happen to him who is doing right. Yes; it is the courage which comes by faith which makes men like St. Peter and St. John. "I will not fear," said David, "though the earth be moved, and the mountains carried into the midst of the sea." The just man who holds firm to his duty will not, says a wise old writer, "be shaken from his solid mind by the rage of the mob bidding him do base things, or the frown of the tyrant who persecutes him. Though the world were to crumble to pieces round him, its ruins would strike him without making him tremble." Such courage has made men, shut up in prison for long weary years for doing what was right, endure manfully for the sake of some great cause, and say —Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage.There is but one thing you have to fear in heaven or earth — being untrue to your better selves, and therefore untrue to God. If you will not do the thing you know to be right, and say the thing you know to be true, then indeed you are weak. You are a coward, and sin against God. And you will suffer the penalty of your cowardice. You desert God, and therefore you cannot expect Him to stand by you. But who will harm you if you be followers of that which is right? (Psalm 15.) There is a tabernacle of God in which, even in this life, He will hide us from strife. There is a hill of God in which, even in the midst of danger, and labour, and anxiety, we may rest both day and night — even Jesus Christ, the Rock of Ages — He who is the righteousness itself, the truth itself. And whosoever does righteousness and speaks truth, dwells in Christ in this life, as well as in the life to come. And Christ will give him courage to strengthen him by His Holy Spirit, to stand in the evil day, the day of danger, and having done all to stand.
(C. Kingsley, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.