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highest presumption, and a direct opposition to GOD, to have refused doing his part towards initiating them into the church by baptism.
When the Apostles heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified GOD, saying, Then had GoD also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
It was related, that when the persecution raged against the Christians after the martyrdom of Stephen, the disciples fled to different places. We have an account of some of their proceedings during that period of sacred history which has been under our consideration. Some of them, it seems, travelled as far as Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but the Jews. But some of these disciples were natives of Cyprus and Cyrene, who having heard of Cornelius's conversion, ventured, in imitation of Peter, to preach the Gospel to the Greeks at Antioch, many of whom through the grace of God believed. The report of this reached the ears of the disciples at Jerusalem, who desirous to confirm their new converts in the faith, sent Barnabas to instruct them, who being a devout man, took a benevolent pleasure in seeing the good work so happily begun, and exhorted them to be steady in the purpose they had formed. After a short stay among them, the number of disciples increased so much, that Barnabas found it necessary to have an assistant; on which account he went to Tarsus to seek Paul, who agreed to accompany him, and accordingly went with Barnabas to Antioch, where they took up their abode for a year, and taught considerable numbers of people; and the disciples were called CHRISTIANS first at Antioch. They were before this called by the Jews Nazarenes' or Galileans; and by each other, Disciples, Believers, Brethren, or Saints; but they now assumed the name of their great Leader.
Whilst Barnabas and Saul were at Antioch, certain prophets who were divinely inspired came to them from Jerusalem; and one of them, whose name was Agabus, foretold a famine, which accordingly happened in the reign of the emperor Claudius Cæsar, who was then on the throne. In consideration of the distress this might bring with it, the disciples at Antioch resolved to raise a contribution towards the relief of the brethren who dwelt in Judea, who being very numerous had a great many poor among them. This benevolent scheme was put in execution, and the money sent by Barnabas and Saul.
HEROD HAVING SLAIN JAMES, IMPRISONS PETER, WHO IS DELIVERED BY AN ANGEL.
From Acts, Chap. xii.
Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
And he killed James the brother of John with the sword;
And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
Peter therefore was kept in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the
same night Peter was sleeping betweeen two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison.
And, behold the angel of the LORD came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.
And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals: and so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel: but thought he saw a vision.
When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city, which opened to them of his own accord and they went out, and passed on through one street, and forthwith the angel departed from him.
And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety that the LORD hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together, praying.
And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda.
And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate.
And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel.
But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished.
But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the LORD had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go, shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers what was become of Peter.
And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judea to Cesarea, and there abode.
And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon. but they came with one accord to him; and having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country.
And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon a throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man.
And immediately the angel of the LORD smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
But the word of GOD grew and multiplied.
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
*After the death of John the Baptist, Herod Antipas, who had caused him to be beheaded, was engaged in a
war with Aretas king of Petrea, whose daughter he had divorced, that he might be at liberty to marry He. rodias, his brother Philip's wife. Herod was very unsuccessful in his wars, and at length having, by the advice of Herodias offended the emperor, he was deprived of his dominions, and banished to Lyons, in Gaul, where he passed the rest of his days in poverty and obscurity.
At the period of sacred history we are now considering, Herod Agrippa was tetrarch of Galilee, and had also the government of Judea, on which account he resided principally at Jerusalem. He was nephew to Herod Antipas, and brother to Herodias; he was a cruel and tyrannical prince, and abused the authority with which he was invested by the Roman emperor; for he persecuted the Christians. Herod's motive for committing such barbarous actions as are here related, was to ingratiate himself with the Jews.
The execution of James shewed the Apostles that all their miraculous power did not secure them from dying by the sword of their enemies; and gave them an opportunity of testifying their courage in pursuing their ministry*.
This wonderful deliverance of Peter shewed, that the LORD had not forsaken his church, though he had suffered so valuable a member of it as James to be cut off. James was, during our LORD's abode on earth, high in his favour; and he soon dismissed him from this mortal life, to receive him into his presence in heaven.
Herod being disappointed in his cruel attempt to destroy Peter, departed from Jerusalem, in order to celebrate games there in honour of Cæsar. The Tyrians
This was James the Less, as he is called, the kinsman of our LORD, and author of the Epistle which bears his name.