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Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903) - Contents
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    Ms 116, 1903

    Lessons From the Story of Cornelius


    October 8, 1903 [typed]

    Previously unpublished.

    The story of Cornelius was written for encouragement for all who are honestly seeking for the truth.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 1

    “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: he lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seaside: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.” [Acts 10:1-6.]18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 2

    Although Cornelius was a Gentile, it is said of him that he “feared God, with all his house.” [Verse 2.] He had not a theoretical understanding of the truth, but in his life he manifested the true principles of Christianity, and the Lord sent an angel to him with a message of commendation.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 3

    His course was far more pleasing to God than that of many who, though having opportunity to know the principles of truth, do not, because it is inconvenient or unpleasant, obey the laws of God.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 4

    Cornelius was walking in all the light he had received, and the Lord gave him an opportunity of hearing the gospel message and of uniting with the newly formed church. Those who today are, like Cornelius, asking God for wisdom will receive it. The Lord is always ready to supply the necessities of the self-sacrificing and liberal when they call upon Him.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 5

    “And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on them continually, and when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.” [Verses 7, 8.]18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 6

    In all this transaction, the wisdom of Christ is manifested. The Lord will work marvelously, when men will not, by human wisdom, thwart His purposes. The Lord has His own means of accomplishing the work He wishes done. “All power,” said Christ, “is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” [Matthew 28:18.]18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 7

    At this time the Jewish converts still retained their prejudice against the Gentiles. Even Peter needed to be converted. God must teach him that he was not to belittle those who had had no opportunity of hearing the truth. Note how carefully God worked to overcome the prejudices against the Gentiles that had been so thoroughly introduced into Peter’s mind by all his Jewish training.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 8

    “On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, 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.” [Acts 10:9, 10.]18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 9

    Peter hungered not for physical food alone. As from the housetop he viewed the city and the surrounding country, he hungered for the salvation of his countrymen. He had an intense desire to point out to them from the Scriptures the prophecies relating to the sufferings and death of Christ. He longed that they might accept the wonderful revelation of the truth as it is in Jesus.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 10

    As he prayed, he became lost as to his whereabouts. He “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 fourfooted 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 anything 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 in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, and called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 11

    “While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nations of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up: I myself also am a man. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in mine house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the seaside: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Immediately therefore, I sent to thee; thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 12

    “Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (He is Lord of all:) that word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and showed Him openly: not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even unto us, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To Him give all the prophets witness, that through His name whosoever shall believe on Him shall receive remission of sins.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 13

    “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And He commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” [Verses 11-48.]18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 14

    Paul was the appointed minister to the Gentiles; Peter was the apostle of the circumcision. Yet Peter was the one whom God used in doing the first work among the Gentiles. This was ordered by a wise God, who knows the end from the beginning. The Lord chose Peter to lead out in proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles. He was the one best able to accomplish this work without friction and to remove the prejudice existing among the Jewish Christians.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 15

    Peter accepted the interpretation of the vision. Never did he attempt to force the rites of the ceremonial law upon the Gentile converts.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 16

    This record illustrates the power of God to break down prejudice. When “some of the circumcision contended with him,” because he had transgressed the traditions of the Jews in associating with the Gentiles, Peter related his vision. He told of his experience in Cornelius’ house and how the Holy Ghost descended on the Gentiles as well as on the Jews. “Then remembered I,” he said, “the word of the Lord, how that He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” [Acts 11:2-18.]18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 17

    Thus without controversy, prejudice was broken down, and the way was opened for the work to be carried on among the Gentiles without further opposition.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 18

    “But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Jesus Christ. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Wherefore remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made with hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. But now in Jesus Christ ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” [Ephesians 2:4-13.]18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 19


    Let those who are ready to take up burdens that the Lord has not given them be careful lest the work to which they are appointed remains undone.18LtMs, Ms 116, 1903, par. 20

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