Acts IV. to V. 32.
"Through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises."
ECAPITULATE last Lesson. What miracle? Where? Where
was Peter's sermon preached?
However, it was not likely they could escape. Who came
upon them? Why Sadducees? See
Next morning a great gathering together of Sadducees in high position; in from the country and the neighbouring towns, assembled for the trial of these presumptuous preachers. Only a few months ago that same court had met—many of these same members—to condemn Jesus of Nazareth to death. Trouble and excitement since, and much talk of His Resurrection. Very vexatious and disturbing. Their own consciences uneasy, perhaps, at the cruel killing of Jesus—disturbed again now—"intend to bring this man's blood upon us." Now determined to stop this annoyance, and this foolish talk about Resurrection.
They began with a question. What? And straight and
fearlessly Peter lets them have its answer. What?
No wonder that they marvelled. We should have marvelled ourselves if we had seen those "unlearned and ignorant" fishermen, with perfect calm and confidence, teaching the chiefs of the clergy and rulers. Especially if we had seen Peter, who, through fear of a maid-servant, had denied his Lord a few months ago, now challenging the greatest and wisest of his nation in the name of Jesus Christ.
Did he convert them? No—too obstinate and bigoted. We
never hear of a Sadducee being converted. Did they
disprove the miracle?
Would you have courage to do that for Christ's sake? They risked scourging—imprisonment—death? Why? Because it seemed worth bearing anything for the love of Christ, and the joy of knowing that their kindly comrade and friend was really Almighty God in disguise. They saw traces of His presence all around them, and you may be sure Peter did not forget the misery of his late cowardice and the wondrous love that forgave him. What cared he now for applause or shame, for life or death, but only that his Lord might approve of him? Have you any such trial for Christ's sake? Have you courage to do right, even if laughed at? Could you rebuke your comrades for mockery of religion? The same Lord is just as much present now, just as glad of the brave disciples, and as disappointed by the cowardly.
Now, "being let go," they went where? To the faithful, true-hearted comrades who loved the Lord. In all the city these were the friends they most cared for—were most in sympathy with—liked best to be with. That is the great test. When "let go" from restraints, where do we naturally turn? Boy "let go" from school. Young people "let go" from restraints of home. Men and women "let go" from work. Good test of life. What sort of companions, books, amusements do they turn to? Good or evil?
Now think of that little company—weak, afflicted,
threatened, in danger of life, yet so strong, quiet,
calm in God. Ah! that is the secret
of strength and
peace! Peter and John come and tell them of the danger
and the threats. Does it frighten them? Not the least!
They go to the Great Refuge. Whom? What Scripture do
they quote for comfort? Who do they say were chief
Did an answer come? How soon? How? The very answers they wanted—more of the power of the Holy Ghost—more boldness. That is the best sign of God helping us—to be growing more brave and strong and determined and successful in fighting our temptations. So they were more confident than ever in God's presence, and spoke the word with boldness. Do you not think theirs was a brave, happy life—full of love for God and enthusiasm for righteousness and confidence in the Divine protection.
What a grand lesson to learn. What matter anything if God be with us! Never mind what anybody says of us. (Inscription on walls of a Scotch college—"They say—What do they say?—Let them say!") Never mind what they try to do to us, if only we are certainly on the path of right. "Who is he that will harm you if ye be followers of that which is good?" "The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our Refuge!"