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10. Peter's Vision

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 3He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. 7And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

9On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 17Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 18And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

19While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 21Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? 22And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. 23Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 27And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. 28And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? 30And 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, 31And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

34Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

44While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

35. He which feareth God, and doth righteousness. In these two members is comprehended the integrity of all the whole life. For the fear of God is nothing else but godliness and religion; and righteousness is that equity which men use among themselves, taking heed lest they hurt any man, and studying to do good to all men. As the law of God consisteth upon [of] these two parts, (which is the rule of good life) so no man shall prove himself to God but he which shall refer and direct all his actions to this end, neither shall there be any sound thing in all offices, [duties,] unless the whole life be grounded in the fear of God. But it seemeth that this place doth attribute the cause of salvation unto the merits of works. For if works purchase favor for us with God, they do also win life for us which is placed in the love of God towards us. Some do also catch at the word righteousness, that they may prove that we are not justified freely by faith, but by works. But this latter thing is too frivolous. For I have already showed that it is not taken for the perfect and whole observing of the law, but is restrained unto the second table and the offices of love. Therefore it is not the universal righteousness whereby a man is judged just before God, but that honesty and innocency which respecteth men, when as that is given to every man which is his.

Therefore the question remaineth as yet, whether works win the favor of God for us? which that we may answer, we must first note that there is a double respect of God in loving men. For seeing we be born the children of wrath, (Ephesians 2:3,) God shall be so far from finding any thing in us which is worthy of his love, that all our whole nature causeth him rather to hate us; in which respect, Paul saith that all men are enemies to him until they be reconciled by Christ, (Romans 5:10.) Therefore the first accepting of God, whereby he receiveth us into favor, is altogether free; for there can as yet no respect of works be had, seeing all things are corrupt and wicked, and taste of [bespeak] their beginning. Now, whom God hath adopted to be his children, them doth he also regenerate by his Spirit, and reform in them his image: whence riseth that second respect. For God doth not find man bare and naked then, and void of all grace, but he knoweth his own work in him, yea, himself. Therefore, God accepteth the faithful, because they live godly and justly. And we do not deny that God accepteth the good works of the saints; but this is another question, whether man prevent the grace of God with his merits or no, and insinuate himself into his love, or whether he be beloved at the beginning, freely and without respect of works, forasmuch as he is worthy of nothing else but of hatred. Furthermore, forasmuch as man, left to his own nature, can bring nothing but matter of hatred, he must needs confess that he is truly beloved; whereupon, it followeth that God is to himself the cause that he loveth us, and that he is provoked [actuated] with his own mercy, and not with our merits. Secondly, we must note, that although the faithful please God after regeneration with good works, and their respects of works, yet that is not done with the merit of works. For the cleanliness of works is never so exact that they can please God without pardon; yea, forasmuch as they have always some corruption mixed with them, they are worthy to be refused. Therefore, the worthiness of the works doth not cause them to be had in estimation, but faith, which borroweth that of Christ which is wanting in works.

36. Concerning the matter. Because the Greek text is abrupt, some think that the accusative case is put instead of the nominative; and that the sense is this, This is the word which God hath sent unto the children of Israel. Other some refer it unto the word ye know, which followeth afterward; and they think that there was another word added to make the sentence more pleasant. For Luke putteth λογον in the former place, and afterward ρημα. But forasmuch as it is common and familiar amongst the Grecians to understand 701701     “Subaudire,” to supply. the prepositions; this sense, which I have set down, seemeth to me more agreeable, though, if the harshness of the speech can be any better mitigated, I will willingly yield. Therefore I take this member to be a preface, which appertaineth unto this worthy work of God, which he showed amongst the children of Israel, preaching peace by Christ. That done, there is added a narration. At length, in the conclusion of his speech, Peter showeth to what end Christ was sent into the world. Furthermore, he beginneth with this commemoration not without cause, That God sent his word unto the children of Israel. And speech is put for thing in the Hebrew phrase. The eternal covenant which God had made with that people was at that time famous. There was nothing more commonly known among the Jews than that there was a Redeemer promised in times past to the fathers, who should restore things which were decayed unto a flourishing and blessed estate. This did those also know who were familiarly conversant with the Jews. Therefore, to the end Peter may purchase greater credit, he saith that he will speak of no new or unknown thing, but of the restoring of the Church, which did depend upon the eternal covenant of God, and which was now manifestly showed, and almost in every man’s mouth.

Preaching peace. Peter teacheth here what manner [of] rumor and thing that was which was spread abroad; to wit, such as that it did make peace. I take peace in this place for the reconciling of men and God, which, notwithstanding, hath in it the perfect 702702     “Solidam et perfectam,” the perfect and entire. salvation of the Church. For, as horrible confusion, and, as it were, a huge lump, 703703     “Tetrum chaos,” a dire chaos. do follow after that God is once estranged from us; so, so soon as his fatherly favor doth once appear, he gathereth his Church together, and true felicity ariseth. Therefore, this is Peter’s meaning, that God showed himself merciful to his people in Christ, and that he received into favor Abraham’s children again, (whom he seemed to have cast away for a time,) that he might establish among them a flourishing estate. And as he maketh God the author of this peace, so he placeth Christ in the midst as the pledge thereof, that it may be certain and holy. He coupleth peace and preaching expressly together, because this is one way whereby the fruit of the reconciliation, purchased by Christ, cometh unto us. In like sort, after that Paul had taught that Christ is our peace, he addeth immediately, that he came to preach peace unto those who were nigh at hand and far off, (Ephesians 2:17.)


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