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by Dr. John Thomas
"The people of the Lord," say they, "are we!
Wisdom will die with us!
" Yet they are faithless of the words of Peter, for they do them not; and have changed the ordinance of God, and made it contemptible.
A rhantized, but unbaptized, community is the vast majority of the professing world; and therefore "without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope (no true one) and without God in the world".
Them that honour God, He will honour; but they who seek honour one of another, and desecrate His name, are fattening their hearts for the day of slaughter; and are fit only for capture and destruction.
Cornelius and his household differ from these in toto.
They all believed the words of Peter, awaiting his commands.
He had inquired if there were any present who could, in the face of what they saw and heard, "forbid water that they should not be baptized".
He doubtless paused a reasonable time that objections might be urged if any could possibly exist.
But all Jewish prejudices were abolished by "the demonstration of the spirit," and they held their peace.
Things being brought to this crisis, it only remained for the Spirit of God to pronounce the word.
Therefore, Peter opened his mouth, and "commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord".
After this manner Peter used the keys of the kingdom of heaven given to him by the Lord Jesus Christ.
When he had accomplished this work, he no longer retained the power of the keys.
They were transferred to the multitude of the believing Jews and Gentiles.
The spirit had revealed the mystery of the kingdom, and the fellowship of the mystery, by the mouth of Peter on Pentecost, and at Cęsarea; so that the keys became the common property of all believers.
The Lord "who hath the key of David, hath opened, and no man can shut"; He hath set before the Gentiles "an open door, and no man can close it," so long as the scriptures are in the hands of the people.
The false prophet may dangle keys at his girdle, and affect the power of the Son of God; but so long as "the law and the testimony" are accessible "whosoever is athirst may come; and whosoever will may take the water of life freely".
The scriptures contain the keys.
Popes, priests, clergy, and ministers may suppress, torture, and garble the truth, and throw hindrances in the way; but the man who discards their authority, and thinks for himself, may, by the enlightening efficacy of the living word, become "wise unto salvation by the faith which is in Jesus Christ".
Let the people then help themselves, if they would that God should aid them.
From what has been advanced it is manifest that "the word of the kingdom" presents itself to us in the scriptures in a three-fold relation: As the gospel preached to Abraham, etc. ; As the same gospel preached in the name of Jesus on Pentecost, or the mystery of the gospel of the kingdom; and As the fellowship of the mystery of the gospel preached.
first by Peter to circumcised Gentiles; and afterwards by Paul to the worshippers of idols.