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Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: and they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple : and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.”Acts iii. 1-11. SUBJECT:-The Miracle at “The Beautiful Gate," a Fact,
a Text, and an Epoch. SHE miracle here recorded may be said to extend in its
particulars and influences to the 22nd verse of the next chapter. The whole of the passage brings the miracle under our notice in three aspects :-As a fact, a text, and an epoch. The first eleven verses of this chapter presents it to us in the first aspect, and to this aspect we now give our attention.
I. We look at this miracle as a FACT. The exquisite simplicity with which it is stated, and the minute details specified, show—as plainly as anything can show-that it has nothing of the parabolic or mythical about it. It is a fact. If there be history in any literature, these verses are a piece of history. Several things here require attention.
First: The authors of the miracle. “ Now Peter and John,” &c. Who were the instrumental authors of the miracle? for Omnipotence was confessedly the efficient Agent. They were two of the apostles, who in mental character were the most dissimilar. John seems to have been calm, retiring, intuitional, living not so much in the scientific forms or historical details of truth, as in the transcendental region of its spiritual elements. Peter, on the other hand, was restless, forward, and somewhat dogmatic. Albeit, no two of the apostles seem more intimately allied. They were on the mount of transfiguration together, they prepared the last
passover, and were in the garden of Gethsemane together; they were together, also, at the sepulchre on the morning of the resurrection, and here we find them together “ going up into the temple," &c. Though John knew Peter's defects and crimes, yet he seemed so to love him as to elect him as his companion. And Peter loved him in return. Chrysostom thought that Peter's question (John xxi. 21), “Lord, what shall this man do?” was prompted, not by idle curiosity as is generally supposed, but by strong affection-an affection making him anxious concerning the future of his friend. As a rule, natural diversities of mental temperament are the conditions of the closest friendship—the one would seem to be the complement of the other. The one supplements the other's deficiency, and thus dovetails into the other. Natural diversities, where there is moral purity, are social harmony.
Secondly: The season of the miracle. " At the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.” The hour of prayer, Lightfoot imforms us, is the same in the Hebrew code. The examples of David, Daniel, Peter, as well as the authority of the Talmuds, teach us that the Jews had three hours for prayer daily : the third hour, nine o'clock in the morning; the sixth, twelve o'clock; and the ninth, three o'clock in the afternoon. These disciples of Christ did not give up the temple at once, they worshipped in the temple as they were wont. Observe
Thirdly: The subject of the miracle. 5 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple.” In the next chapter, in the 22nd verse, we are told that he was above forty years old ; upwards of forty years therefore he had lived a cripple. His lameness was not the result of accident or disease, or some infirmity that had come upon him after a period of physical perfection, but was a constitutional defect; he was born a cripple.
Thoughtful men have often asked the question, Why, under the government of a benevolent God, should such cases as this occur ? Why should The Great One send men into the world, sometimes without the use of their limbs, cripples?
sometimes without the use of their eyes, blind ? sometimes without the use of their reason, idiots ?
Three facts may go a great way towards the obviation of the difficulty. (1) That persons who come into the world in this state, being unconscious of physical perfection, feel not their condition as others. Men who have never seen, know nothing of the blessedness of vision; men who have never had the use of their limbs, know nothing of the pleasures of healthful exercise of the limbs; men without reason, know nothing of the high delights of intellectual action. Hence persons of constitutional defect in form, organ, or limb, often display a peace of mind, and often a joy, at which others wonder. The subjects, therefore, of constitutional defects, feel not their loss as we are too prone to imagine.
Another fact which may contribute to the removal of the difficulty is—(2) Such cases of organic imperfection serve by contrast to reveal the wonderful goodness of God. In the material world, those parts of the earth that have been shattered by earthquakes, that lie in black desolation for the want of sun, that thunder in hideous chaos, serve to set off in more striking and soul-inspiring aspects the beauty and the order that reign everywhere but with such few exceptions. It is so with the human world in those cases of constitutional defects. A hunchback here, a blind man there, a cripple in another place, and an idiot there in the crowded walks of life, only serve to set off the goodness of God in the millions of men and women that are perfect. These are a few dark strokes which the Great Artist employs to set off the picture of the world in more striking aspects of beauty-a few of the rougher notes which the Great Musician uses to swell the chorus of universal order.
Another fact which contributes to the disposal of this difficulty is—(3) They serve to inspire the physically perfect with gratitude to Heaven. In the poor idiot, who stares vacantly at you, God says, “Be thankful to me for the light of reason.” In the poor blind man, groping his way in darkness, God says, “ Be thankful to me for that eye that
gives you a bright world.” In the poor cripple, that lies helpless by the wayside, God says to the passing crowd, “Be thankful to me for those agile limbs that carry you about.” The blind, the idiotic, the crippled, the deformed, are sacrifices for the public good. They are God's homilies to the millions, demanding gratitude to Him for perfection in faculty and limb. Who can tell the spiritual good that this poor cripple accomplished, as he lay daily at the gate of the temple, observed by the hundreds that passed to and fro for worship? Observe
Fourthly : The scene of this miracle. “At the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful.” Some suppose this was the gate called Nicanor, which led to the court of the Gentiles, to the court of the women. Others suppose that it was the gate to the eastern entrance of the temple, commonly called Susan ‘or Sushan ; the latter is the common and the more probable supposition. Josephus says, “Of the gates, nine of them were everywhere overlaid with gold and silver ; likewise the posts and the lintels. But one, without the temple, made of Corinthian brass, did much exceed in glory those that were overlaid with gold and silver.” At this gate began the inner temple, as distinguished by Josephus from the outer temple; this being the most frequented gate of the temple, and in the vicinity of Solomon's porch, the cripple was placed there as the best position forappealing for charity to the passing crowd.
His position there implies on behalf of himself and those who carried him to that spot—(1) That his condition was such as had a claim upon the charity of others. So it verily was. Such cases as his demand our compassion and our aid. They are means which God has appointed for the practical development of our benevolence. (2) That the exercises of piety are favorable to the display of benevolence. Why was he carried to the gate of the temple? Not merely because of the multitudes that passed to and fro; other positions, such as the public streets and commercial thoroughfares, might have been selected, were this the only reason. He felt, undoubtedly, that the men who approached God in
worship, were, above all, men disposed to help his suffering children. Piety is the fountain of philanthropy. Indeed, there is no true love for man that does not spring from love to God. If a man loves the Infinite Father, he is sure to show sympathy with His suffering children. Observe
Fifthly : The method of the miracle. Observe the order. (1) Peter arrested his attention. “Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.”
It would seem that Peter and John both fastened their eyes on this manthrew their glance right into his. The eye, when it is the organ of a great living thought, is a mighty organ. A divine electricity often streams through it. They fastened their eyes on him, that he might fasten his eyes on them, so that a kind of spiritual contact might take place; that they might connect him with the divine that was in them. (2) Peter assured him of his own temporal poverty. The poor man having had his attention arrested, expected that he should receive from them what he desired-alms; but in this he was disappointed by the declaration of Peter, “Silver and gold have I none.” As if he had said, “ Money, I have none; I poor in this world; but such as I have—the power that God has given me to help others—I will employ on your behalf. It is recorded that Thomas Aquinas, who was highly esteemed by Pope Innocent IV., going one day into the Pope's chamber where they were reckoning large sums of money, the Pope said to him, “You see that the Church is no longer in an age in which she can say, 'Silver and gold have I none.'” “True, holy father,” said Aquinas; "neither can she say, 'Rise up and walk.'” A Church may be secularly rich, and morally poor. A man like Peter may be without money, and yet have God with him and in him to work His will. (3) Peter challenged his faith. “ In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” They wrought their miracle in the name of Jesus of Nazareth. The apostolic miracles were all performed in the name of Christ, according to His own command and promise. (Mark xvi. 17, 18; John xiv. 12 ; Acts ix. 34, ix. 40, x. 28, xiv. 9, xvi. 18.)