And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold…
I. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE PRESENT AT THE APPOINTED PLACE BETIMES. "Now therefore we are all here."
II. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL NEVER FAIL TO HAVE UNANIMITY OF REPRESENTATION AS FAR AS THAT IS POSSIBLE. "We are all here." If it could be said truly, all who could be are here, we would have great reason to rejoice.
III. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE REVERENT. "We are all here before God."
IV. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE ATTENTIVE. "We are all here present before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." They do not come to see or be seen, but to hear; not to be gratified or entertained, but to be spiritually profited.
V. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL RE SYMPATHETIC. There were some communities in which the Lord Jesus Christ could not perform mighty works. There are congregations so cold and unresponsive that the preacher's thoughts are chilled in transmission. A man can't be packed in ice without freezing. The Church has a great deal to do with making the minister. Many a sermon has caught its glow and power from the sympathies of those to whom it was delivered. A genial summer is not more effective in calling forth buds and blossoms, than warm hearts are in drawing out all that is best and noblest in a preacher's soul.
VI. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE RECEPTIVE. Like nature in the spring time, with every tree and flower and grass blade open to receive the gracious ministries of heaven. VII. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE UNPREJUDICED. "We are all here before God to hear all things that are commanded thee of God." Prejudice is the hardest thing to cope with, for it is not amenable to conviction even when the evidence is overwhelming. "Argument cannot do the work of instruction any more than blows can take the place of sunlight." Not what suited their tastes and harmonised with their preconceived notions, but all that was commanded of God. It would be well if congregations now came together with this absolute simplicity and guilelessness of disposition. VIII. THE IDEAL CONGREGATION WILL BE OBEDIENTLY DISPOSED. "All that is commanded thee of God." Nothing can be of real value in God's sight which does not shape itself into obedience.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,