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REMARKS -The first Christian Congregation followed as the result of St. Peter's sermon. It was composed wholly of converts from the Jewish Church, and may be called the Mother-Congretion of Christendom.
COMMENTS.-VERSE 37. Now when they had heard the Sermon of St. Peter, they were pricked in their hearts, or pierced through by the truth of his discourse, which he proved by the sayings of their own Prophets, and by facts which they could not gainsay. Instead of becoming angry, they were penitent and turned to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, whom they acknowledged as Men and brethren, that is, as wise and charitable advisers. "What shall we do?" was the great question with them. They felt that the awful crime of slaying Jesus Christ would draw after it a very heavy punishment. How were they to escape the penalty?
VERSE 38. Peter prescribes the duties for them to perform: 1) Repent: Realize your sin deplore it heartily; confess it; pray for mery; And 2) be baptized... in the name of Jesus Christ: Acknowledge the Gospel of Christ, by becoming His disciples in that you submit to the rite of Baptism. Notice, too, that St. Peter requires this of all every one of you.
Then he assures them, two results will follow: 1) The remission of sins; And 2) the gift of the Holy Ghost: the implanting of God's life in their souls.
VERSE 39. For the promise of Joel, the prophet, whose words he had been quoting, is to you, the Jews, and to your children, or offspring; and to all that are afar off-the Gentiles; even as many as the Lord our God shall call, by the preaching of the Gospel in the course of time.
VERSE 40. And with many other words, which are not recorded here, he continued to testify, or prove the truth of his words, and to exhort, or beseech them, saying: Save yourselves from this untoward (opposing) generation- the Jewish nation, which was soon to be destroyed.
in different parts of the City of Jerusalem, at the hands of the several Apostles, about three thousand souls left the Jewish Church and became Curistians.
VERSE 42. And they continued in their new faith steadfastly, or firmly. They exhibited their zeal in four different ways: 1) In living the doctrines of the Apostles; 2) In remaining in the fellowship of charity and love towards each other; 3) In the breaking of bread, or celebrating the Lord's Supper; and 4) In prayers, or observing all their devotional duties in private and in public.
Such was the life and spirit of the first congregation of Christ. O, that such marks were to be noted in all the members of every Church of Christ!
And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved from their sins, by repentance and faith, even as He does to-day. Such as join the Church, and do not realize that they are in a saving relation to God, are not properly added of God to His people.
We have learned 1) When and where the first Christian Congregation was founded; 2) how the first harvest of souls was gathered into the kingdom of Christ; and, 3) what spirit pervaded the Mother-Church. The Christian Church is a Divine kingdom. We show our faith by submitting to the Gospel in Baptism. By virtue of the Grace vouchsafed to us, we are enabled to lead penitent lives. Thus holiness and salvation result.
VERSE 43. And fear came upon vvery soul that tarried in Jerusalem, because of such events which were occurring. The many wonders and signs which were done by the Apostles, besides, helped to bring home to all the Jews that this work was of God.
VERSE 44. And all that believed, or had become Christians, were together, that is, were united in spirit and mind. It is not likely that more than three thousand souls were in one place constantly. And had all things common. Just as the Jews, during their FestivalVERSE 41. Then they that gladly re-seasons, entertained each other muceived his word, or that portion of his tually, so the first Christian community hearers which were. ready and willing made one family of themselves, and to obey his counsels, at once became shared beds, homes and tables, while converts to Christ. On the same day, they tarried there.
VERSE 45. Some of the wealthier ones even sold their possessions and goods, in order to aid such as were in want. They parted, or divided to all, as every man had need.
VERSE 46. They continuing daily with one accord, or one mind, in the temple, at the regular hours of prayer, and took their meals in companies, between the hours of worship, under each others' roofs. And thus they worshiped, ate and lodged, experiencing great gladness and unanimity.
VERSE 47. Praising God for the faith He had wrought in their souls, and having favour with all the people, on account of their simple, pure and Christlike lives.
"The hymns of Luther," says S. T. Coleridge, "did as much for the Reformation as did his translation of the
Bible. They were indeed the battle-cry and trumpet-call of the Reformation; the children hummed them in the cot tage, the martyrs sung them on the
on his shoulders and resting there, until her strength becoming exhausted, she said, "I can hold on no longer!" "Try a little longer," was the response of the wearied and agonized husband, "let us sing, Rock of Ages."" And as the sweet strains floated over those troubled waters reaching the ears of the sinking and dying, little did they know, those sweet singers of Israel, whom they comforted.
But lo! as they sang, one after another of the exhausted ones were seen raising their heads above the overwhelming waves, joining with a last effort in this sweet, dying, pleading prayer,
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me Let me hide myself in Thee." With the song seemed to come strength; another and yet another was encouraged to renewed effort.
Soon in the distance a boat was seen approaching! Could they hold out a little longer? Singing still, they tried, and soon, with superhuman strength, laid hold of the life-boat, upon which they were borne in safety to land.
This is no fiction; it was related by the singer himself, who said he "believed Toplady's sweet 'Rock of Ages' saved many another beside himself and wife."
And this was only salvation from the bright world yonder the good Toptemporal death! But methinks, from lady must be rejoicing that God ever taught him to write that hymn, which has helped save so many from eternal After his death, when his friend Mel-death as, catching its spirit, they have ancthon heard a little maid singing on the streets of Weimar Luther's grand hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is our God," he said, "Sing on, my maid, for you little know whom you comfort."
Such a beautiful incident illustrative of this thought was recently given by Rev. Mr. Boole, of Asbury Park, from his own pulpit, that we venture to reproduce it for the benefit of others.
learned to cast themselves alone for help
OLD gentleman (military man) conOn board the ill-fated steamer "Sea- versing with smart-looking Irishman; wanhaka" was one of the Fisk Univer-"Wounded in the Crimea, were you? sity singers. Before leaving the bur- Badly?" Irishman: "The bullet hit ning steamer and committing himself to me in the chist, here, surr, an' the merciless waves, he carefully fastend came out at me back!' Old gentleman: upon himself and wife life-preservera." Come, come, Pat, that won't do! Why, Some one cruelly dragged away that of it would have gone right through your the wife, leaving her without hope, ex- heart, man!" Irishman: "Och, faith cept as she could cling to her husband. me heart was in me mouth at the toime, This she did, placing her hands firmly surr!"
Second Sunday after Trinity. Acts xi. 19-26.
THE SUBJECT.-THE CHURCH IN ANTIOCH.-(THE FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN HEATHENDOM.)
KEY-NOTE.-"I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT LIKEWISE JOY SHALL BE IN HEAVEN OVER ONE SINNER THAT REPENTETH, MORE THAN OVER NINETY AND NINE JUST PERSONS, WHICH NEED NO REPENTANCE."-Luke xv. 7.
19. Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word unto the Jews only.
20. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
21. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
22. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
23. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
24. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
25. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
26. And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
Of what Church did our last lesson treat? Of what Church does this lesson treat? Of what Faith had the members of the Church in Jerusalem been before their conversion? what people were the members of the congregation in Antioch? verses 1 and 20. In what two cities, then, were the Mother-congregations for the Jewish and Gentile world established?
VERSE 19. Who were scattered abroad? Why? Who was Stephen? chap. vi. 1-6. What was his end? chap. vii. 58-60. What place does St. Stephen hold among the Christian martyrs? To what several places did the persecuted Christians flee? What did these fugitives continue doing, wherever they came to? What good resulted from the persecution, then? To whom only did they preach the Gospel? Why?
20. From what countries were some of those at Antioch? To whom did these preach? Were the Grecians Jews or Gentiles? Is this the first notice we have of Gentiles being admitted into the Christian Church? Whom had
St. Peter admitted before? chap. x. Did the Christians at Antioch likely, follow his example 21. What is meant by the hand of the Lord? Did this show that the Lord approved of extending the Gospel to the Heathens?
22. What Church heard of the events at Antioch? Whom did the Apostles then send thither? Who was Burnabas chap. iv. 36. 23. How was he affected? What did he do for them?
24. What was the character of Barnabas? 25. For whom did Barnabas send? Who was Saul chap. ix.
26. How long did both labor here? What name originated here? Did the name CHRISTIAN come from the followers of Christ them selves? Did the Jews confer it on them? Who must then have given them the name? For what two facts did the Church in Antioch become noted in all time?
Why art thou called a Christian ?--Heidelberg Catechism, Question xxxii.
1. Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love! The fellowship of kindred minds Is like to that above.
2. Before our Father's throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
3. We share our mutual woes,
4. When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart
5. This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
6. From sorrow, toil, and pain,
And sin, we shall be free;
And perfect love, and friendship, reign
REMARKS.-Antioch was the capital southern coast of the sea. of Syria, a country lying adjacent to natives of these places, and having India on the North. The city lay been converted to the Gospel, these about 250 miles off Jerusalem. Jeru- commenced to labor with the Grecians, salem and Antioch are remarkable for who were Gentiles. Thus was founded being the two cities in which the two in Antioch the first Christian Church, Mother Congregations were founded in into which converted heathens were the Apostolic age. In the former admitted. On this account the Church place the first Christian Congregation in Antioch became especially noted. for the Jews was founded; whilst in the VERSE 21.-By the hand of the Lord latter the first Christian Congregation is intended the power of His Spirit. for the Gentiles was established. How The phrases, finger of God and arm of the door was opened for the Gospel into the Heathen world, we may now see, by studying the origin of this first Mission ary Church.
God (Luke xi. 20; Job xl. 9), mean the same thing. God approved of the act of extending the Gospel into heathen lands, in a marked manner. Many Gentiles believed in Jesus as the Christ, and joined His Church now founded in this city. The door was now opened, and souls from afar pressed into His Kingdom.
COMMENTS.-VERSE 19. Now they, who had been converted to Christianity in the City of Jerusalem, were scattered abroad, and were obliged to flee in every direction, on account of the great and cruel persecution, or outbreak of VERSE 22.-The tidings, or news, hatred against the Christians on the that a new congregation had been espart of the Jews. The zeal of Stephen tablished in Antioch, and of Gentiles was the immediate occasion of this as well as of Jews, reached the ear of rage. Who he was, we learn in Chaps. the Mother Church in Jerusalem. The vi. vii. viii. Apostles sent Barnabas (chap. iv. 36), In their flight they sought out such a zealous minister, thither, with proper places outside of Judea as had become instructions, no doubt, how to establish the dwelling-places of their former and organize all things on a sure founacquaintances and Jewish brethren, dation. Such counsel was needed, we whom they supposed to be less enraged may easily believe. against them than those residing in Jerusalem. Phanice lay along the Mediterranean Sea, and Cyprus was an Island in the Sea; whilst Antioch lay farther north. But wherever these flying Christians tarried, they continued preaching the Gospel. They fled for their lives, but did not deny their faith. In this way the persecution did great good, since the gospel sparks were scattered about. God knows how to overrule the wrath of man and Satan.
But these Christians had not yet learned that the Gospel of Christ was intended for all mankind, and so they confined their intercourse and preaching to the Jews only. It was here, however, in Antioch, and very soon after, that they learned, how Peter had baptized Cornelius, the first Gentile soul (chap. x.), and thus taught them that Christianity was meant for the whole world, for Jews and Gentiles.
VERSE 20.-And some of them, who bad arrived at Antioch, were men of Cyprus and Cyrene--a country on the
VERSE 23. Being himself a Grecian Jew, and native of Cyprus (chap. iv, 36-7) he exhorted the Church in their familiar tongue, advising and encouraging all to remain faithful and steadfast in their new religion.
VERSE 24. His character is given us in these few words. With such a preacher, and around such a flock, we need not wonder at the rapid growth of this Church.
VERSE 25.-The increase of the membership rendered more ministerial help necessary. Barnabas now thought of his former countryman, and now converted Saul. He had been a violent persecutor of the Christians, but having himself become a believer in Christ, after a most wonderful manner (chap. ix.), he was obliged to hide among his friends at his native place, Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia, in Asia Minor. Being learned in the Greek and Latin tongues, he was a suitable man for this post.
whole year both
labored for the extension of the Gospel recent life in the tropics, he said: "No in Antioch. And from this city, natural object in that region had more afterwards, Paul undertook his great attraction to me than the stately palmmissionary tours into other countries. tree, with its graceful form and its reAntioch became the great head-quar- freshing shade. And the manner of its ters of the Gentile Mission. growth is recalled to me as I see these And the disciples were called Chris- successive college classes, in their repretians first in Antioch. This is an im- sentatives here to-day. Out of the heart portant record. It tells us of the time of the palm-tree there comes a cluster and place in which the name CHRIS- of young leaves like the graduating TIAN first originated. Before this class of to-day-standing together for name became known, the followers of a time above all about them, and then Christ were called by different names. separating, without losing all connection They usually called themselves "Dis- with the parent stock, to spread into an ciples," Believers," "Saints," "Breth- encircling frieze which is to be covered in The Jews called them "Gali- turn by the next unfolding cluster from leans," "Nazarenes." Now, however, above, and so the growth of the tree, the unconverted Gentiles in Antioch like that of the college, is marked by conferred the name CHRISTIANS upon the successive courses of unfolded leaves, them, since they followed CHRIST as Leader. It was given in mockery, and as a witty nick-name, by the heathen Antiocheans. It was at once adopted universally, and became an honorable and immortal name.
the younger ones seeming to stretch themselves over the others to shield them from the sun and storm, lest they should wither and fall too soon. Oh, how grateful was the shade of the palmtree to one who was weary in that dry and thirsty land! But dearer far to me, my friends, than all else which I came to enjoy in the tropics. was the shelter of a tree which I there found planted by the rivers of living water, which had been started into its beautiful growth under the shadow of Trinity College walls." By this time the college alumni were aroused, and they listened with bated breath to the musical flow of words that followed. "It was while I lay on a bed of sickness, far from home and frier ds, seemingly called to die uncared for and alone, that there came to my bedside one of God's dear children a Brother in Christ-to look with sympathy into my eyes, to speak words of comfort to my heavy ears, to fan my fevered brow, and to mingle his thoughts with mine, until, as we held sweet converse together in Christ Jesus, I came to love him as if we had been born of the same mother, and nourished at the same breast. His fellowship and his prayers gave me new comfort and new life; and now, as I stand here before the alumni of his Alma Mater, I say with all my heart, God bless John Du Bois, of the class of 1854."
Dr. Beadle on one occasion made an address at the close of the Commencement dinner of Trinity College. He was known to but few of the alumni present. There was no expectation aroused before his speech. He had effect of this climax was irresistible. been passing some months in the West The classmates of Du Bois led in deIndies for his health; and, during that monstrative applause, as the other clastime, had been quite ill. Referring to ses joined in with cheers.