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by Dr. John Thomas
He became very hungry about 12 o'clock in the day.
While waiting for something to eat on the housetop, an amazement came over him.
In this state, he saw a great sheet full of all sorts of unclean creatures, fit and appropriate emblems of the moral condition, of the Gentiles.
At this crisis, the spirit said, "Rise, Peter, kill and eat".
But Peter preferred hunger to defilement; and would not consent, until it was repeated for the third time, that the legal distinction between clean and unclean was done away: -- "What God hath cleansed, call not thou common," or unclean.
The impression made upon Peter by this vision is best expressed in his own words.
"God hath showed me," said he, "that I should not call any man common, or unclean.
Therefore came I to you, Gentiles, as soon as I was sent for".
In this way the second key of the kingdom was imparted to him.
Its use was to make known the Fellowship of the Mystery.
As soon as Peter's preparation was complete, even while he was debating within himself the meaning of the vision, three Gentile messengers from Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian regiment, arrived from Caesarea, to request him to visit him.
The Spirit told Peter to go with them, nothing doubting, for He had sent them.
Now, while God was preparing Peter's mind for a ready obedience, He had sent a messenger to tell Cornelius to send for Peter.
It would be well for the reader to reflect on the character of Cornelius before the angel visited him.
He was not a pagan Gentile, or a wicked sinner in danger of hell fire; but a proselyte of righteousness, or an outer-court worshipper.
"He was a just and devout man, and one that feared God with all his house; gave much alms to the Jews, among whom he was of good report; and he prayed to God always".
No better man, lay or clerical, can be produced from any modem sect than Cornelius.
He was a God-fearing, "pious," and generous-hearted man.
He was not a perverse, hot-headed, ignorant disciple of some sect; but a man approved of heaven, whose prayers and alms ascended before God as a memorial of him.
But why dwell so on the character of this excellent man?
Because a special messenger was sent from heaven to tell even this good man, this just and devout Gentile, to send for the apostle Peter, that he might come from Joppa, and tell him what he ought to do.
But, as though this were not explicit enough, the angel stated that "Peter should come and tell him words, whereby he and his house might be saved".
Now it is worthy of especial note by the religionists of this self-complacent generation, that this just person was not in a saved state under the new order of things: that he had both to hear words and to do something for his salvation which he had then as yet neither heard nor done.