The Baldwin Library
THE T-WELVE APOSTLES.
"To whom also he shewed himself alive after his
passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them
forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the
kingdom of God."-AcTs, c. I., v. 3.
ST. LUKE, one of the disciples of Jesus, wrote the part of the Bible
called the Acts of the Apostles. This portion of the Scripture gives
us an account of the progress of the gospel, and of the actions of
the chief followers of the blessed Saviour during about thirty years
after his Ascension. I have now to tell you of some of these acts.
After witnessing with holy joy the ascent of their Lord and Master
into heaven, the apostles returned to Jerusalem, ready and willing
to carry out the great work their Master had entrusted to them,
namely, the preaching the glad tidings of salvation throughout the
world. One last promise the Lord had also made, just before he left
them. It was that the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of God, should descend
upon them, filling them with wisdom and strength for their mission.
I They first proceeded to choose another apostle from among the
disciples of Jesus; to fill the place of the traitor Judas. Two were
chosen, Joseph and Matthias; and they cast lots to decide which of
them should be an apostle; and the lot fell upon Matthias.
The time now came when, according to the promise of the Lord
Jesus, the Spirit was to descend upon the apostles. It was at the
Feast of Pentecost that this great event took place. The following
is the Bible account given by St. Luke in the Acts. "And they were
all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound
from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house
where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven
tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they
were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other
tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now when this was
noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded,
because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another,
Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear
we every man in our own ti inW-'ie, whereini we were born?",
The Jews, many of whom were present, now tried to explain this
wonderful sight; and some were foolish enough to say that the
apostles spoke under the excitement produced by wine; as if wine
could have the 1,wer of making men speak in tongues of which
they had before I een iCgnoiranit. "But P< ter, standing up with t
eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judai-a,
and all ye that dwell at Jerusaleim, l e this known unto you, and
hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose,
seeing it is but the third hl ir of the day. But this is that which
was spoken by the pr!,ophet J,.eil: And it shall come t, pass in the
last days (saith God,) I will pur out of my Spirit upon all flesh:
and your sons and your daughterss shall prophesy, and your young
men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on
my servants and on my hind-maidens I will pour out, in those days,
of my Spirit; anl they shall prophesy. And it shall come to pas-
that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved".'
Then Peter proceeded to remind them all of the life and death of
the blessed Saviour. He ,showed plainly how all the prophecies of
the wise men and prophets in Israel clearly pointed to the Lord
Jesus as the Mes.iah whom the Jews were to expect, and who w!As
to save the people from their sins. He spoke of the sufferings of
the Saviour, of his death and burial, and of his ascension, of which
many then present had been witnesses; and altogether he made
such a convincing speech, that many of his hearers were touched to
the lL:art, and :bgan.askin of the apostles, saying: "Men and
brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter said, "Repent. and be
baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ forthe
remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that
are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." Many
were convinced by the words of Peter; and three thousand men
were that day added to those who believed on the Lord Jesus.
DEATH OF ANANIAS.
THE DEATH OF ANANIAS.
Thus a community or brotherhood was formed of those that be-
lieved. They held their property in common, the wealthier giving
freely to those who were in need. Theiir number was augmented by
new believers; and thus the Christian Church was firmly founded.
It soon appeared also that the Lord Jesus had transferred to his
apostles the power of working inimceles. Peter and John cured a
lame man in the temple, healing him so that he stood up and
entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping, anl, idm is-
ing God. Peter also took care that the glory of this work 1I iiil
be given where it was due. He said-, "Ye men of Israel why
marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by
our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The
God of Abraham, and of Is.iaae, and of Jac:ub, the God of our fitlihes.
hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied
him in the presence of Pilate." This great work caused many men
to join the Church;. and nimny who wished to benefit the poorer
believers sold their land and their possessions, and brought the
price to the apostles. :T1hy were not obliged to do this, but might
sell their land if they wishel. And now was showna dreadful ex-
ample of punishment inflicted upon two ,ersons who attempted to
deceive the apostles. It is thus related in the Acts of the Apostles:
"But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a
posIsession, and kei:)t ba;ik part of the price, his wife being also
privy to it, and brloughlt a certain part, and laid it at the uap,.-tles'
feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to
lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the
land? Whilst it remained, was it not thine own ? and after it was
s,-,ld, was it not in thine own power? Why hast thou conceived
this thing in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men, but untd
God. And Ananias hearing these words, fell down, and gave up the
Ghost: and about three hours after, his wife came in, not knowing
what was done. And Peter said, Tell me whether ye sold the land
for so much? And she said, Yea for so much. Then Petei said,
How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt i.te spirit of the
Lord ? Then she fell down straightway, and yielded up the ghost."
BEGINNING OF THE APOSTLES' SUFFERINGS.
"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John,
and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men,
they marvelled ; and they took knowledge of them, that
they had been with Jesus."-Acrs, c. Iv., v. 13.
WHEN our Lord Jesus Christ told his Apostles that he had chosen
them to preach salvation and forgiveness of sins after he should have
left the earth, he did not hide from them that they would have to
suffer many things for his sake. He had told them plainly, "In the
world ye shall have tribulation, but," he added, "be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world." Accordingly the apostles, and those
who believed with them, expected that they should suffer persecu-
tion: and the persecution very quickly came upon them.
The rulers of the Jews, and the Pharisees and Sadducees, who had
been most bitter and malignant in their hatred and enmity against
the Lord Jesus, were not likely to look with favour upon men who
openly and boldly preached the truth concerning Jesus, namely,
that he was the Son of God, that through him only could pardon for
sin be obtained; and that those who had crucified him had been
guilty of a great and dreadful sin. Therefore these rulers and Sad-
ducees sought to injure the apostles, as they had sought to injure
the Lord Jesus: and the greater the number of men became who
followed the apostles, and believed their preachings, the greater
became the hatred and malice of these wicked men. When, there-
fore, the apostles began to work miracles-when the lame man was
healed, and went into the temple rejoicing and praising God-they
were more than ever angry. Therefore they sent for the apostles,
and threatened them, commanding them to preach and speak no
more in the name of Jesus. But the apostles were not the men to
let any earthly command weigh with them against the command
which the Lord Jesus himself had given them: and Peter and
John boldly said to those who were forbidding them to preach the
name of the Lord Jesus: Whether it be right in the sight of God,
THE APOSTLES MIRACULOUSLY DELIVERED.
to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye." So for the
time their captors were olligt.-d to let them go.
As the believers increaM.,-cd, the great works and miracles perfo:nrmird
by the apostles iiiwieasedl also in niuiil. ', so that multitudes came
from the cities round about Jerusalem, bringing their sick, who
were healed every one. At last, the anger and hatred of the chief
priest, and of the Sadducees against these apostles became so
violent, that they shut them up in the common prison. But the
an-el of the Lord came by night and opened the pri,-'in doors, and
brhiug.ht them forth, saying to them: "Go, stand in the temple and
and speak to the people the words of life." When they heard that,
they entered into the temple early in the morning, and began to
teach the. pt:pl-. The high priest and his companions in the
meanwhile thivli ht the apostles were still in the prison where they
had been shut up: and when the council was a-f.ll.iled, the chief
priest accordingly sent, to have them brought before him. Greatly
surprised were the messengers whom he sent when they found the
prison doors safely shut and the keepers watching without, but the
prii~1sors gone from within the lpril,,n. While the council yet
fuirxVelled concerning the meaning of this straigi news, a man
came from the temple with the intelligence that the apostles were
even then in the sacred building teaching the people.
Then the chief priest and the council anl t for them quietly, for
they fLared to use any vilviN ., be':;i-.ose the people believedd that
the apostles spoke the truth. When the high pri.-4t asked tli >ti
why they persisted in teaching in the name of Je-.I.s, after he had
strictly forbidden tlem to do so, Peter replied that they ought to
obey God rather than man. He m inhiiihiii'l that Jesus was the Mes-
iilih, and that the Jews ha'l acted wickedly in c'.-iiving him; and
dihc.larhid, that the apo, sties were witnesses of the divinity of Chiist.
When the high priest and the council heard this, they were very
angry, and took counsel to slay them. But a man of wisdom and
worth, named Gamaliel, ,t', ll up and warned them to beware what
they did. He said, "If what these men preach is false, it will come
to nuithing of itself. If it is true, you cannot ovcrtlhrw it, and you
STONING OF STEPIHIEN.
THE DEATH OF STEPHEN.
may, perhaps, be found to fight against -God." They agreed that
Gamaliel spoke wisely; and they refrained, therefore, from slaying
the apostles. But they called them, and caused them to be beaten;
and after again commanding them that they should not speak in
the name of Jesus, let them go.
But though the high priest and his wicked followers dared not
put the apostles to death for fear of the people, they soon exercised
their cruelty uliipn some of the lesser di~.rciples. There was a man
named Stephen, a good and just person, who had been chosen, with
six others, by the apostles to manage the distribution of alms, and
of help to those along the brethren who were in poverty and dis-
tress. This Stephen was so full of faith, that the power of working
miracles was given to him. Then in the synag. ggue certain men
disputed with Stephen ; but their arguments were powerless against
him. Then they wickedly determined to destroy him. They hired
men to bear false witness against Stephen, and to say, "We have
heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God."
Then we are told that all in the council looked steadfastly on him,
and saw his face lappearing like the face of an angel. And being
called upon for his answer to the accusation, Stephen showed how
every one of the prophecies ]pointed to the Lord Jesus, and the more
clearly he showed this, the nmlre angry did his hearers become. At
length-when he relproaihell thmti boldly with the hardheartedness
and cruelty they hald .hliwii in slaying the Lord Jesus-they became
like wild beast, and 'gnashed on him with their teeth. "But he,
being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into Heaven, and
said: I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on
the right hand oft G(dil. Th1ln. they cried out with a loud voice, and
stopped their .;Irs, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast
him out of the city, and stoned him." While Stephen was being
crushed to death with the cruel stones, he ceased not to pray to
the Lord Jesus., He cried out at last, "Lord Jesus, receive my
spirit.' Aiid then he kneeled dIdwn, and cried with a loud voice:
"Lord, lay not this, sin to their charge." And thus praying for his
persecutors, the good Stephen fell a-leep.,
PHILIP AND SAUL.
"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is
also the Holy Ghost, whom God hatli given to them that
obey him."--AcTs, c. v., v. 32.
WITH the death of Stephen began a persecution of the followers of
the Lord Jesus in Jerusalem. But the cruel persons who persecu-
ted the followers of Christ, and drove them away from Jerusalem,
did not by this means stop the spread of the faith, but rather in-
creased it. For these people preached the word of the Lord
wherever they came. And Philip the apostle went down to the
city of Samaria to preach the gospel there. He wrought many
miracles, and convinced a great number of people that Jesus was
really the Messiah. And there was joy in the city for the great
deeds that Philip did. And the glad tidings of salvation were
preached in many villages of the Samaritans.
Thus you see that the efforts of wicked and violent men can never
prevail against the truth of God. Those who stoned the good
Stephen to death, and pursued the other Christians with their
hatred and cruelty, doubtless thought to frighten the followers of
Jesus; but the effect was directly opposite. The more the faithful
followers of the Lord were scattered, the more widely did they
preach the gospel of Christ; and thus the efforts employed against
them served only to increase their number.
At this time an angel appeared to Philip and commanded him
to go to Gaza. He obeyed the summons and went; nor did he go
in vain. We are told: "A man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great
authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who had the
charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem to worship,
was returning, and, sitting in his chariot, read Esaias the prophet.
Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this
chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the
prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?
And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me ? And
CONVERSION OF SAUL.
PHILIP AND THE EUNUCH.
he desired Philip that he should come up and sit with him. The
place of the Scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep
to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before the shearer, so open-
ed he not his mouth: In his humiliation, his judgment was taken
away; and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken
from the earth. And the eunuch said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh
the prophet this ? of himself, or of some other man ? Then Philip
opened his mouth, and began at the same Scripture, and preached
unto him Jesus." He explained how the Lord Jesus had, indeed,
been led to death, as a sheep is led to the slaughter; how, meekly
and without complaint, he had borne in his own person the chas-
tisement due to the sins of all the world. And as Philip preached the
eyes of the eunuch were opened, and he believed in the Lord Jesus.
"And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water;
and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to
be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believes with all thine
heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to
stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip
and the eunuch; and he baptized the eunuch, who went on his way
But I have now to tell you of a more remarkable conversion than
that of the eunuch-the chamberlain of Queen Candace. Among
the greatest persecutors of the Christians was a man named Saul.
This Saul had been brought up strictly as a Pharisee, and was one
of those who had a part in the death of Stephen. We are told that,
"Breathing out threatening and slaughters against the disciples of
the Lord," this Saul went to the high priest, and procured from him
letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus, whither Saul pur-
posed going. These letters were written against the Christians,
and required that any who were found, either men or women, who
acknowledged the Lord Jesus, should be sent bound to Jerusalem.
Thus, with every intention of doing all possible injury to the Chris-
tian Church, Saul set out for Damascus; but God intended it far
otherwise, and had appointed that this Saul, this persecutor of the
Church, should become a most faithful and valuable apostle-one
who should preach the kingdom of God far and wide. The follow-
ing is the story of the conversion of Saul, as told in the Acts of the
Apostles: And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and
suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and
he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul,
why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord ?
And the Lord said, I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest: it is hard
for thee to kick against the pricks. And he, trembling and aston-
ished, said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord
said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee
what thou must do. And the men which journeyed with him stood
speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose;
and when his eyes were opened he saw no man: but they led him
by the hand, and brought him into Damascus."
Now there dwelt at Damascus a good man, a disciple named
Ananias. To him was shown in a vision what had happened to Saul;
he was told that this Saul, the persecutor of the Christians, was chosen
by the Lord to bear the glad tidings of the Saviour's name to the Gen-
tiles. Ananias was also commanded to send to a certain house, where
he should find Saul. Then we are told in the Bible, Ananias went
his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him
(Saul) said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto
thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest
receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immedi-
ately there fill from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received
sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized."
This Saul is afterwards spoken of in the Bible by the name of
Paul. He became a zealous and faithful preacher of the name of the
Lord.Jesus. Everywhere he tried to turn his hearers from the error
of their way and bring them to the feet of the Lord Jesus. So great
was the number he convinced that Jesus was the Christ, that the
Jews took counsel together to slay him at Damascus; and Paul was
obliged to escape by night from the city, the disciples letting him
down in a basket over the wall. And he came to Jerusalem.
JENEAS HEALED; AND DORCAS RAISED FROM
"And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all
quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt
at Lydda."-AcTs, c. Ix., v. 32.
THE power of healing the sick and performing miracles, generally
had been given by the Lord Jesus to his apostles; by means of these
miracles many were gained as members of the Church of Christ.
Men whowould, perhaps, not have believed from hearing the preach-
ing of the apostles, were convinced when they saw the wondrous
works these men performed in the sight of all the people. Thus
the miracles, besides being manifestations of Divine Power, were
instrumental in founding and extending the Christian Church.
Some of the most remarkable of these miracles were performed
by the apostle Peter. Here is an account of two of them.
Journeying from place to place, Peter tarried in a city called
Lydda, where he wished to see some of the Christians, his brethren.
Now there dwelt in Lydda a man named JEneas, who had long been
suffering from the terrible disease called the palsy, so that during
eight years he had been unable to rise from his bed. And we are
told that Peter came to him, and said: "'_Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh
thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately."
You see Peter understood whose power it was that cured this
sick man, and that he himself was only the instrument by whom
the cure was wrought. For he did not say, "I will make thee
whole," but, "Jesus Christ maketh thee whole." Thus performing
the miracle, as he had been commanded to preach and to work, in
the name of Jesus. We are told in the next verse what an effect this
miracle had on the spectators: "That all who dwelt at Lydda and
Saron, saw the man who had been healed, and turned to the Lord."
But a greater work than this was entrusted to Peter to perform.
He had healed the sick; but now in the strength, and in the name
of the Lord Jesus, he was to raise the dead. This great miracle
' ^ ~ V ~'. ^
RAISING OF DORCAS.
.- ," "' ;
... :"y ; ^ .
PETER AT JOPPA.
occurred in the following way. In the city of Joppa, there lived a
a woman named Tabitha, or Dorcas. She was a good woman, a
believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and a person noted for her chari-
table disposition, and her readiness to help the poor. We are told,
"this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds." But she fell
sick, this good Dorcas, and died; and sorrowfully her friends laid
out her corpse in an upper chamber, and prepared it for burial.
The city of Lydda, where Peter had just healed the palsied JEneas,
was not far from Joppa. When the disciples heard that Peter was
at Lydda, they sent two men to him, desiring that he would come
to them without delay. Probably they hoped that some great work
might be shown forth by the hands of this favoured apostle.
Peter quickly obeyed the summons, returning at once with the
men who came to seek him. When he arrived at Joppa, they took
him into the upper chamber where Dorcas was lying dead. And
many widows stood round him weeping; and they showed Peter
the clothes the good and charitable Dorcas had made before she
died. Peter sent them all away out of the chamber, and then knelt
down by himself, and prayed. Then he turned to the body, and
said, "Tabitha,' arise." And Dorcas, the woman who had been
dead, opened her eyes and looked upon Peter; and when she saw
him she sat up in her bed. He gave her his hand, and assisted her
to rise; and then calling in the widows and the other Christians,
he presented Dorcas to them alive.
It is not to be wondered at that this great miracle was noised
abroad throughout Joppa; and that many who heard it believed on
the name of the Lord.
Until this time the Jews had always looked upon the Gentile
nations with a certain scorn. They considered themselves God's
peculiar people, favoured and protected by Heaven beyond all other
men; and, therefore, considered their fellow-creatures who were not
Jews inferior to themselves. -All this was now to end; Jew and
Gentile were now to be admitted alike to the privileges and bless-
ings promised to all who believe in the Lord Jesus; and the Jew
was no longer to refuse to be the companion of the Gentile, or to
eat with him, on the ground that the Gentile was unclean. This
truth was revealed to Peter the apostle in a very remarkable
vision, which you shall have related to you in the words in which
it is told in the Bible.
Peter was to be summoned to the city of Caesarea by a devout
man named Cornelius, a centurion-he was sojourning at Joppa,
and Cornelius had been commanded by an angel to send for him,
and had, accordingly, despatched three men as messengers to Joppa.
And we are told, "Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about
the sixth hour; and he became very hungry, and would have eaten:
but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, and 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:
wherein were all manner of four-footed beasts of the earth, and
wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there
came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said,
Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or
unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What
God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice:
and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter
doubted what this vision should mean, the men sent from Cornelius
stood before the gate: and the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three
men seek thee. Arise, and go with them, doubting nothing."
That Peter well understood the meaning of the vision, upon the
appearance of these messengers of Cornelius, the Roman centurion,
is shown by some words he spoke soon afterwards, when he met
Cornelius. He said: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no res-
pecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth him, and
worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
These are the words of truth, for every word in the Bible is true
and unchangeable. And as it was in the days of Peter, so it is now.
Every one who humbly and patienly strives to fly from what is evil,
and cling to what is good, is acceptable to God, be he high or low,
rich or poor. For He is the Almighty, who can put down the mighty
from their seat at any time, and exalt the humble and meek.
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