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by Dr. John Thomas
The key of knowledge has been given; but unfortunately it has been stolen again by Peter's pretended successors; and, upon a smaller scale, by every other ecclesiastic who would discourage or throw hindrances in the way of a free, unbiassed, and independent examination and avowal of Bible truth in their churches; or, an unrestricted advocacy of it, though at variance with the institutes of dogmatic theology, in all the pulpits of the land.
The leaders of the people dare not permit such a course to be pursued; for the Bible is hostile to their systems, and sets forth things which, if believed, would empty their rostrums, disperse their flocks, and close their doors; and elaborate such a social revolution, that truth and righteousness would triumph in the midst of the earth; and the people be enlightened in the knowledge which comes from God.
Such a consummation, however, need never be hoped for, so long as the instruction and government of the nations are in the hands of the existing orders or rulers, lay and ecclesiastical; for "like priests, like people," and vice versa; they are corrupt and altogether gone out of the way; and, therefore, are devoid of all power to resuscitate the things which remain, and which are ready to vanish away.
Before a man can enter into the Kingdom of God, he must be unloosed from his sins in the present state; and liberated hereafter from the prison-house where the dead lie bound in chains of intense darkness.
The unloosing from sins, Jesus committed to Peter; but the enlargement from the chamber of death he reserved to himself.
Knowledge is the key to remission, or release from sins, and to an entrance into the Kingdom of God.
No one can enter this kingdom in his sins, and destitute of a character approved of God; and none could answer the question, "How can a man obtain the remission of sins; and what kind of a character would God henceforth account worthy?
" -- until the apostle Peter revealed the secret, communicated to him by the spirit, on the day of Pentecost.
If the reader peruse the second chapter of the Acts, he will there learn how Peter used one of the keys of the kingdom given to him by its King.
On that occasion, I say, he used but one of the keys.
He revealed the mystery of the gospel of God's kingdom to Jews only.
They believed in the kingdom, glory, and dominion, promised to the Son of Man in Daniel and the prophets; they were well aware that the kingdom was to belong to their nation; that the King was to be David's son, and to live for ever; and that the righteous were to take the kingdom with him: these things were the substance of the national hope; but they did not then know upon what conditions the obtaining of them was predicated.
Hence, it was Peter's duty to instruct them.
He first recalled to their recollection certain notable things concerning Jesus.
That the wonders he performed by the power of God evidently showed that God approved him; that they had been guilty of his death in clamouring for his crucifixion; but that all this was predetermined of God; that God had "loosed him from the pains of death" by raising him from the dead.
He then proceeded to show by their prophets that the things which had thus happened to Jesus were verifications of certain predictions.
He adduced the testimony of David, that the Christ was to be "raised up to sit upon David's throne," and consequently, must previously suffer death; and that after he was resurrected, he was to ascend to the right hand of God.
He then concluded by saying, "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified, both Lord and King Anointed (Cristov," Messiah)".
For the truth of this statement he appealed to what they saw and heard; to the cloven tongues like fire sitting upon their heads, the "sound of a rushing mighty wind," and the many languages spoken by Galilean fishermen without previous study.
The result of the Apostle's reasoning was their conviction that Jesus was indeed the King of Israel, even the Shiloh that had been promised them for so many ages.
They acknowledged him to be the "Son whose name should be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Father of the Future Age (Avi Ad), the Prince of Peace".
This belief, however, also convinced them that, being this great personage, they had committed an enormous crime; and had "killed the Prince of Life".
Their consciences smote them; "they had denied the Holy and Just One, and desired a murderer before him"; and had imprecated his blood upon themselves and their posterity.