And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold…
We have here —
1. A call to Peter related — "I sent."
2. Peter's compliance with the call commended, "Thou hast well done that thou art come."
3. An address made to Peter when he was come. In which take notice —
(1) Of a congregation, though small? yet well convened (ver. 24).
(2) An acknowledgment of God's presence in a special manner in religious assemblies, "We are all here present before God."(3) The great end of their meeting was their soul's edification, to hear, i.e., to hear and obey. And here is what the minister is to preach and the people to receive: "what is commanded of God." The extent of both is "all things."Observe —
1. When God discovers His mind in any particular to a person or people, it is their duty presently to comply with it without delay. The contrary was the fault of Balaam, and of the Jews in Egypt (Jeremiah 44).
2. It is a blessed thing for a people to call that minister to whom God Himself directs and inclines them. Cornelius did not so much as know Peter by name (ver. 5), but he goes to Gods and God directs him.
3. It is a commendable thing in a minister of Christ to comply with the call of God and His people, though it should be offensive to some, and not very agreeable to his own inclinations. The doctrine arising from the text is — "It is the duty of a people to attend on ordinances." In discoursing from this I shall —
I. GIVE REASONS WHY PEOPLE SHOULD ATTEND ON AND BE PRESENT AT ORDINANCES, WHERE GOD HAS SET THEM UP AMONG THEM. Because —
1. God has commanded it (Hebrews 10:15). The Lord calls His people to be present there, wherever it is. Thus there was the tabernacle in the wilderness, and afterwards the temple, and the synagogues. It was the practice of Christ Himself to attend these places (Luke 4:16).
2. The public assemblies are for the honour of Christ in the world. They are where His honour dwells, where His people meet to profess their subjection to His laws, to receive His orders, to seek His help, to pay Him the tribute of praise.
3. These assemblies are the ordinary place where Christ makes His conquest of souls (Romans 10:14). The gospel is Christ's net wherein souls are caught. And it is always good to be in Christ's way.
4. They are Christ's trysting place with His people, the galleries wherein our Lord walks (Exodus 20:24). What a disadvantage had Thomas by his absence from one meeting where Christ met with the rest of the disciples!
5. The delights of Christ and His people meet there; for ordinances are the heaven on earth. Christ delights to be there with His people (Psalm 86:2.; Luke 22:15). And they delight to be there with Him, and for Him (Psalm 84:1, 2; Psalm 27:4; Psalm 122:1).
6. The necessities of all that mind for heaven require it. Had the ordinances not been necessary, God would never have appointed them. Have not Christ's soldiers need of them to clear their rusty armour? do not dead souls need them to quicken them? sleepy souls, to awaken them?
II. SHOW IN WHAT RESPECTS PEOPLE ARE BEFORE THE LORD AT PUBLIC ORDINANCES. The Lord is everywhere present (Psalm 139:7). But we are before Him in a special manner in the public assemblies. He holds the stars in His right hand, and walks in the midst of the golden candlesticks. Christ is in the assemblies of His people — 1, Representatively. He has His agents there, His ministers, who are the Lord's proxies to court a wife for their Master's Son (2 Corinthians 11:2); His ambassadors to negotiate a peace betwixt God and sinners (2 Corinthians 5:20; Matthew 10:40),
2. Efficaciously. The Word of the Lord is a powerful word. Christ is there giving life to some, strength to others, and death's wounds to others (Micah 2:7; Psalm 45:5; Hosea 6:5).
3. As our witness. Men's eyes and the devil's eyes are upon us; but this country in regard to the public service of religion. Our forefathers put their clocks on the outside of their places of worship, that they might not be too late in their attendance: we have transferred them to the inside of the house of God, lest we should stay too long in the service — a sad and an ominous change.
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,