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and confutes in his Epistle to the Romans : Is be the God of the Jews only? is be not also of the Gentiles? yes, of the Gentiles also. The Disciples of our Lord, and especially St. Peter, were as deep in this Opinion as others ;, and, during our Saviour's Abode on Earth, they were confirmed in it by what they observed in him : He declared, he was not. sent but to the loft Sheep of the House of Israel : And, when he sent out his Disciples to preach he exprefly charged them not to go into the Way of the Gentiles, nor to enter into any City of the Samaritans ; but to go rather to the loft Sheep of the House of Israel : And after his Resurrection, when he enlarged their Commission, and bade them Go, teach all Nations ; they understood him not, but were inquisitive about his restoring the Kingdom to Israel. After the Ascension the Apofles continued at Jerusalem preaching to their own Nation, till, upon the Persecution of St. Stephen, many fled into other Parts, and, though they went as far as Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch, yet they freached the Word to none but Jews only, Acts xi. 19. And when St. Peter, admonished by an heavenly Vision, had admitted fome Gențiles into the Church of Christ through Baptism, he was called to an account for it by the Apostles and
Brethren who were in Judea, Chap. xi. 1: Nor were they satisfied, till he told them what Vision he had seen, what also Cornelius had seen and in what a miraculous Manner the Holy Ghost was poured forth on the Gentiles, before he ventured to baptize them : And then, under the Astonishment of this Conviction, they held their peace, blaming his Behaviour no longer ; but glorified God, saying, Then hath God also unto the Gentiles granted Repentance unto Life, Acts xi. 18. St. Peter himself was equally surprized, when he found, by comparing Cornelius's Vision with his own, that God had determined to admit the Gentiles, as well as the Jews, into the Church of Christ; and he expresses himself in the fame Manner, though not just in the fame Words with the Apostles and Brethren, They fay, Then hath God also unto the Gentiles granted Repentance unto Life. St. Peter fays, Of a truth I perceive that God is no Respecter of Persons ; But in every Nation hé that feareth him, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted with him. Thefe two Reflections, as they are made upon the fame Cafe, one by St. Peter, when he was with Cornelius, the other by the Apostles and Brethren, when St. Peter related the Story of Cornelius, só are they in substance the fame : And St.
Peter, when he says that in every Nation be that feareth God
is accepted with him, and the Apostles and Brethren, when they say that God hath granted to the Gentiles Repentance unto Life, mean one and the same Thing: And therefore, in the Text, to be accepted with God means no more than to have from God the Offer of Repentance unto Life ; and both certainly mean our having Admiffion into the Covenant with God through Christ Jesus. So that the whole of what St. Peter says in the Text amounts to this : “ I now at length perceive that God “ has not confined his Mercies to a particular “ Nation only ; but that all are capable of
inheriting the Promises in Christ Jesus, “ who are duly prepared by Righteousness, « and the Fear of God."
This will farther appear to be the true Interpretation, if we examine the Case of Cornelius, and what the Acceptance was that he found. Cornelius was a Gentile, and one of the best of them; 4 devout Man, and one wha feared God with all bis House, which gave much. Alms to the People, and prayed to God alway : And yet his Goodness did not make it unnecessary for him to become a Christian. The heavenly Vision was not sent to satisfy him that his Righteousness was sufficient, and
that he had no need to look out for farther Affistance or Direction : On the contrary, it was sent to inform him where he might seek and find a proper Instructor. St. Peter had also a Vision to prepare him to do the Duty of an Apostle to the Gentile Centurion: and, when this devout Man came to him, in obedience to the heavenly Warning, he instructs him in the Faith of Christ Jesus and baptizes him with Water : Upon which St. Peter says, he finds that Men of all Nations, who do righteously, are accepted with God. He could not possibly mean, That those who did their best upon the Light of Nature, had no need of any other Teacher: That Reflection could never rise from the Case before him ; For why did he then instruct Cornelius in the Knowledge of Christ, and baptize him in his Name? St. Peter therefore certainly meant, That all Gentiles duly prepared were capable of the Blessings of the Gospel through the Mercy of God; in opposition to his former Error, that none but Jews had such a Privilege. And the Apostle undoubtedly understood that the best of the Gentiles had need of the Gospel ; or else his Commendation of the Goodness of God amounts to this only, That he perceived that God would give to the honest
minded Gentiles, who feared him, and did righteously, that which they had no Occasion to receive.
From the Words and Circumstances. of the Text thus explained we learn what is the true Notion of that Acceptance, which St. Peter says the Gentiles of all Nations are intitled to through the Mercy of God.
But then there arises a Difficulty from the Terms to which St. Peter has limited this Privilege : For he does not say that Men of all Nations are accepted to God; but that in every Nation he that feareth God, and worketh Righteousness, is accepted of him. Now, ono great End of the Christian Religion being to instruct us in the Fear of God, and in Works of Righteousness, it may seem strange, that in order to the obtaining of this Benefit of being duly instructed in the Fear of God, and in Works of Righteousness, it should be required, as a previous Condition, that wc. Should fear God, and do righteously: Which Condition supposes us already in possession of the main Thing for which the Privilege itself is granted ; and consequently, the Privilege becomes in a manner useless by our having the Qualifications necessary to the obtainingu it. To clear this Matter, we must considers what the Apostle to the Hebrews teaches us,