The 4 part. THE propagation of the Church to the Gentils also.
Because the Iewes so much abhorred the Gentils, for the better warrant of their Christning, an
Angel appeareth to Cornelius the deuout Italian. 9. and a vision is shewed to Peter himself
(the Cheefe and Pastour of al) 19. and the Spirit speaketh to him, 34. yea and as he is
Catechizing them about Iesvs, 44. the holy Ghost commeth visibly vpon them: and therfore not
fearing any longer the offense of the Iewes, he commandeth to baptize them.
1. AND there was a certaine man in Cæsarea, named Cornelius, Centurion of that which is called the Italian band,
2. religious, & fearing God with al his house, Doing many almes-deeds.
Good workes before faith, are preparatiues to the same not properly but meritorious.
He knew God creatour of al, but that his omnipotent Sonne was incarnate, he knew not: and in that faith he made praiers and gaue almes which pleased God, and by wel doing he deserued to know God perfectly, to beleeue the mysterie of the Incarnation, and to come to the Sacrament of Baptisme. So saith Venerable Bede *out of S. Gregorie. And S. Augustin thus, li. 1. de Bapt. c. 3. Because whatsoeuer goodnes he had in praiers and almes, the same could not profite him vnles he were by the hande of Christian Societie and peace, incorporated to the Church, he is bidden to send vnto Peter, that by him he may learne Christ, by him he may be baptized, &c. Whereby it appeareth that such workes as are done before iustification, though they suffice not to saluation, yet be acceptable preparatiues to the grace of iustification, and such as moue God to mercie, as it might appeare also by Gods like prouident mercifulnes **to the Eunuche: though al such workes preparatiue come of grace also; otherwise they could neuer deserue at Gods hand of congruity or any otherwise toward iustification.
*Bede in hunc locum.
**Act. 1. doing many almes-deeds to the people. And alwaies praying to God,
3. he saw in a vision manifestly, about the ninth houre of the day, an Angel of God comming in vnto him and saying to him: Cornelius.
4. But he beholding him, taken with feare, said: Who art thou Lord? And he said to him: Thy prayers and thy almes-deeds are ascended into remembrance in the sight of God.
5. And now send men vnto Ioppe, and cal hither one Simon that is surnamed Peter.
6. He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side. He wil tel thee what thou must doe.
7. And when the Angel was departed that spake to him, he called two of his houshold, and a souldiar that feared our Lord, of them that were vnder him.
8. To whom when he had told al, he sent them vnto Ioppe.
9. And the next day whiles they were going on their iourney, and drawing nigh to the citie, Peter went vp into the higher partes, To pray about the sixt houre.
The Canonical houres.
The houre is specified, for that there were certaine appointed times of praier vsed in the Law, which deuout persons, according to the publike seruice in the Temple, obserued also priuately: and which the Apostles and holy Church afterward both kept and increased. Whereof thus writeth S. Cyprian very notably: *In celebrating their praiers, we find that the three children with Daniel obserued the third, sixt, and ninth houre, as in Sacrament (or mysterie) of the holy Trinitie, &c. And a litle after, Which spaces of houres the worshippers of God spiritually (or mystically) determining long since, obserued set times to pray: & afterward the thing became manifest, that it was for Sacrament (or mysterie) that the iust so praied. For at the third houre the **Holy Ghost descended vpon the Apostles, fulfilling the grace of our Lords promise & at the sixt houre Peter going vp to the higher roome of the house, was both by voice and signe from God instructed, that al Nations should be admitted to the grace of saluation, whereas of cleansing the Gentils he doubted before. aAnd our Lord being crucified at the sixt houre, at the ninth washed away our sinnes with his bloud.
But to vs (Dearly beloued) beside the seasons obserued of old, both the times and sacraments of praying be increased, for we must pray in the morning early, that the Resurrection of our Lord may be celebrated by morning praier: as of old the Holy Ghost designed in the Psalme, saying, bIn the morning early wil I stand vp to thee, early in the morning wilt thou heare my voice.
Toward the euening also when the sunne departeth, and the day endeth, we must of necessitie pray againe.
S. Hierome also writing of Daniels praying cthree times in a day, saith: There are three times, wherein we must bow our knees to God. The third, the sixt, and the ninth houre the Ecclesiastical tradition doth wel vnderstand. Moreouer at the third houre the Holy Ghost descended vpon the Apostles; at the sixt, Peter went vp into a higher chamber to pray; at the ninth, dPeter and Iohn went to the Temple. Againe writing to Eustochium, a virgin and Nonne, ep. 22. c. 16. Though the Apostles bid vs pray alwaies, and to holy persons their very sleepe is praier; yet we must haue distinct houres of praier, that if perhaps we be otherwise occupied, the very time may admonish vs of our office or duty. The third, sixt, ninth houre, morning early, and the euening, no man can be ignorant of. And to Demetrias ep. 8. c. 8. that in the Psalmes and praier she must keepe always the third, sixt, ninth houre, euening, mid-night, and morning. He hath the like ep. 7. c. 5. And (ep. 27. c. 10.) he telleth how Paula the Holy abbesse with her religious Nonnes sang the Psalter in order, in the morning, at the third, sixt, ninth houre, euening, mid-night: By mid-night meaning the time of Mattins (therfore called Nocturnes agreably to S. Cyprian de Orat. Do. num. 15.) and by the morning, the first houre called Prime: al correspondent to the times & houres of Christs Passion, as in S. Matthew is noted c. 26. 27. By al which we see, how agreable the vse of the Churches seruice is euen at this time to the Scriptures and primitiue Church: and how wicked the Puritan-Caluinists be, that count al such order and set seasons of praier superstition: and lastly, how insufficient and vnlike the new pretended Church-seruice of England is to the primitiue vse, which hath no such houres of night or day, sauing a litle imitation of the old Mattins and Euensong, and that in Schisme and Heresie, and therfore not only vnprofitable, but also damnable.
*De Orat. Dom. nu. 15.
**Act. 2. Act. 10.
dAct. 3. to pray about the sixt houre.
10. And being hungrie, he was desirous to take somewhat. And as they were preparing, there fel vpon him an excesse of mind:
11. and he saw the Heauen opened, and a certaine vessel descending, as it were a great linnen sheete with foure corners let downe from Heauen to the earth,
12. wherein were al foure-footed beastes, and that creepe on the earth, and soules of the aire.
13. And there came a voice to him: Arise Peter, kil, and eate.
14. But Peter said: God forbid, Lord; for I did neuer eate any common and vncleane thing.
15. And Here God first vttered to Peter that the time was come to preach also to the Gentiles, and to conuerse with them for their saluation no lesse then with the Iewes, with ful freedom to eate al meates without respect of the prohibition of certaine made in the old Law. a voice came to him againe the second time: That which God hath purified, doe not thou cal common.
16. And this was done thrise, & forthwith the vessel was taken vp againe into Heauen.
17. And whiles Peter doubted within himself, what the vision should be that he had seen, behold the men that were sent from Cornelius, inquiring for Simons house, stood at the gate.
18. And when they had called, they asked, if Simon that is surnamed Peter were lodged there.
19. And as Peter, was thinking of the vision the Spirit said to him: Behold three men doe seeke thee.
20. Arise therfore, and get thee downe, and goe with them, doubting nothing; for I haue sent them.
21. And Peter going downe to the men, said: Behold I am he whom you seeke; what is the cause, for the which you are come?
22. Who said: Cornelius the Centurion, a iust man and that feareth God, and hauing testimonie of al the Nation of the Iewes, receiued an answer of an holy Angel to send for thee into his house, and to heare wordes of thee.
23. Therfore bringing them in, he lodged them. And the day following he arose and went with them: and certaine of the brethren of Ioppe accompanied him.
24. And on the morow he entred into Cæsarea. And Cornelius expected them, hauing called together his kinne, and special freinds.
25. And it came to passe, when Peter was come in, Cornelius came to meete him, & falling at his feete Adored.
Adorations of creatures.
S. Chrysostom ho. 21. in Act. thinketh Peter refused this adoration of humilitie only; because euery falling downe to the ground for worship sake, is not Diuine worship or due only to God, *the word of adoration and prostration being commonly vsed in the Scriptures toward men. But S. Hierome adu. Virgil. c. 2. to. 2. rather thinketh that Cornelius by errour of Gentility, and of Peters person, did goe about to adore him with Diuine honour, & therfore was lifted vp by the Apostle, adding that he was but a man.
26. But Peter lifted him vp saying: Arise, my self also am a man.
27. And talking with him, he went in, and findeth many that were assembled.
28. And he said to them: You know how abominable it is for a man that is a Iewe, to ioyne, or to approche vnto a stranger: but God hath shewed to me, to cal no man common or vncleane.
29. For the which cause, making no doubt, I came when I was sent for. I demand therfore, for what cause you haue sent me?
30. And Cornelius said: Foure daies since, vntil this houre, I was At the time of praier specially God sendeth men comfortable visitations. praying In the Greeke, fasting & praying. the ninth houre in my house, and behold Note these apparitions & visions to S. Peter, Cornelius, & others, in the Scripture very often, against the incredulitie of our Heretikes, that wil beleeue neither vision nor miracle, not expressed in Scripture: these being beleeued of Christian men euen before they were written. a man stood before me in white apparel,
31. and said: Cornelius, thy praier is heard, and thy almes-deeds are in memorie in the sight of God.
32. Send therfore to Ioppe, and cal hither Simon that is surnamned Peter: he lodgeth in the house of Simon a tanner by the sea side.
33. Immediatly therfore I sent to thee: and thou hast done wel in comming. Now therfore al we are present in thy sight, to heare al things whatsoeuer are commanded thee of the Lord.
34. And Peter opening his mouth, said: In very deed I perceiue that God is not an accepter of persons.
35. But in euery Nation, he that feareth him, and worketh Not such as beleeue only, but such as feare God and worke iustice, are acceptable to him. iustice, is acceptable to him.
36. The word did God send to the children of Israël, preaching peace by Iesvs Christ (this is Lord of al.)
37. The Epistle vpon Munday in Easter week. You know the word that hath been made through al Iewrie, for Mat. 4,12. beginning from Galilee, after the Baptisme which Iohn preached:
38. Iesvs of Nazareth how God anointed him with the Holy Ghost and with power, who went throughout doing good and healing al that were oppressed of the Diuel, because God was with him.
39. And we are witnesses of al things that he did in the countrie of the Iewes and in Hierusalem, whom they killed hanging him vpon a tree.
40. Him God raised vp the third day and Gaue him.
Christ did not vtter his Resurrection and other mysteries to al at once, and immediatly to the vulgar: but to a few chosen men that should be the Gouernors of the rest: instructing vs thereby to take our faith and al necessarie things of saluation, at the hands of our Superiours. gaue him to be made manifest,
41. not to al the people, but to vs, who did eate and drinke with him after he rose againe from the dead.
42. The Epistle vpon Munday in witsonweeke. And he commanded vs to preach to the people, & to testifie that it is he that of God was appointed iudge of the liuing and of the dead.
43. To him al the Prophets giue testimonie, that al receiue remission of sinnes by his name, which beleeue in him.
44. As Peter was yet speaking these wordes, the Holy Ghost fel vpon al that heard the word.
45. And the faithful of the Circumcision that came with Peter, were astonished, for that the grace of the Holy Ghost was powred out vpon the Gentils also.
46. For they heard them speaking with tongues, and magnifying God. Then Peter answered:
47. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be Baptized which haue receiued.
They that are iustified before must not omit the Sacraments.
Such may be the grace of God sometimes toward men, and their charitie and contrition so great, that they may haue remission, iustification, and sanctification before the external Sacrament of Baptisme, Confirmation, or Penance be receiued; as we see in this example, where at Peters preaching they al receiue the Holy Ghost before any Sacrament. But in the same we learne one necessarie lesson, that such notwithstanding must needes receiue the Sacraments appointed by Christ, which whosoeuer contemneth, can neuer be iustified. Aug. super Leuit. q. 84. to. 4. baptized which haue receiued the Holy Ghost as wel as we?
48. And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of our Lord Iesvs Christ. Then they desired him that he would tarie with them certaine daies.