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Paul in seeking his own safety by setting the opposing opinions of the two parties in the Sanhedrim against each other : but the principle was employed in a christian manner by the apostle, and its application was limited to the use of truth; whereas the principle was employed in an unchristian manner by the Tribune, for its application was enlarged to include the use of' falsehood. If Paul were to make any complaint of the treatment he had received, it might have been met by the contents of the letter to the governor, which stated that he had been jealous of the Roman privileges outraged in the person of Paul, and had gone to his rescue because he was a Roman citizen. But in order to protect himself, in case the occasion should occur, Lysias made an alteration of the truth --he had found out that Paul was a Roman a short time after the point of time he referred to, but this alteration turned the whole into falsehood, and made the worldly wisdom which suggested the manæuvre nothing but folly.
Have I ever been tempted to bend the straight line of truth a little, in order to suit a plan of worldly policy ? How have I acted ? Have I a distinct conception of the difference between worldly wisdom and christian wisdom?
Merciful and gracious God, who givest thy people grace to help in every time of need, stablish, strengthen, settle me in the conviction of thy favour and goodness towards
Give me the comfort of an assured hope that maketh not ashamed in the day of thy coming and glory; and let that hope give me strength to overcome every device of the evil enemy, and to bear every trial to which my faith may be exposed. Let thy providential dealings concur with thy grace, that so all things may work together for my good ; and that what is meant by the evil one to be an occasion of falling to me, may be directed by thy mercy to advance my growth in grace. Keep my mind and heart in a lively exercise of such thoughts and desires as belong to heavenly things; and make me quick in shrinking from the very sound of sin. Oh! let me not grow accustomed to the hearing of blasphemy, nor think lightly
of the awful danger of those who are capable of using it. Make me clearly to discern what is a christian exercise of the power of right wisdom; so that I may never be ensnared off the ground of truth, or try to be wise by the help of falsehood. Give me, O Father, the Spirit of Him who is the way, the truth, and the life, even of thy beloved Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Paul's trial before Felix. PLACE.—Cæsarea. TIME.—May 21, A.D. 56.
May God, for the sake of Jesus Christ, give me the Holy Spirit, that I may
understand this portion of His Holy Word, and profit by it. AMEN.
THE SCRIPTURE. Acts, chap. XXIV. verses 1 to 23. And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, 1 and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse 2 him, saying, “ Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we ac- 3 cept it al
Ys, and in all plac most noble Felix, with all thankfulness. Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee 4 that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words. For we have 5 found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes : who also hath gone about to profane the temple : whom we 6 took, and would have judged according to our law. But the chief cap- 7 tain Lysias came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, commanding his accusers to come unto thee ; by examining 8 of whom thyself mayest take knowledge of all these things, whereof we accuse him.” And the Jews also assented, saying that these things 9 were so.
Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, 10 answered, “ Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself : because that thou mayest understand, that there are yet but twelve days 11 since I went up to Jerusalem for to worship. And they neither found 12 me in the temple disputing with any man, neither in the synagogues,
13 nor in the city: neither can they prove the things whereof they now 14 accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they
call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things 15 which are written in the law and in the prophets : and have hope to
ward God, which they themselves also allow, that there shall be a re16 surrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust. And herein do I
exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, 17 and toward men. Now after many years I came to bring alms to my 18 nation, and offerings. Whereupon certain Jews from Asia found me 19 purified in the temple, neither with multitude, nor with tumult. Who
ought to have been here before thee, and object, if they had ought 20 against me. Or else let these same here say, if they have found any
evil doing in me, while I stood before the council, except it be for this 21 one voice, that I cried standing among them, Touching the resurrection
of the dead I am called in question by you this day." 22 And when Felix heard these things, having more perfect knowledge of
that way, he deferred them, and said, “ When Lysias the chief captain 23 shall come down, I will hear the uttermost of your matter." And he
commanded a centurion to keep Paul, and to let him have liberty, and that he should forbid none of his acquaintance to minister or come unto him.
The trial of Paul's cause before the new Roman governor was not long deferred : on the fifth day Ananias, executing the office of the High Priest, went to Cæsarea, accompanied by the elders who were members of the Sanhedrim. They engaged also a pleader in law named Tertullus, whom they took with them to argue the case against Paul. When the apostle was brought forward in the court, Tertullus set forth his accusation in a speech to the governor. He began by a flattering address to Felix; in which he praised him for his wise and peaceable administration of government, and for the benefits which the Jewish people derived from it, which he said were universally acknowledged with gratitude. After this he beso ght him to condescend to give him a hearing, on the matter which he would lay before him briefly; and then went on to speak in abusive and contemptuous language of Paul. He was a very pest of society-one who stirred up disputes and divisions amongst the Jews, not only at Jerusalem, but in every part of the Roman empire ;-he was one of the chief leaders of the despised set of people called Nazarenes, and had committed sacrilege by profaning the sacred temple of the Jews. In consequence of this he was apprehended, in order to be tried by the Jewish law, a course which the Roman government had conceded to the nation. But Lysias, the military Tribune at Jerusalem, had violently interfered with force of arms, and taken their prisoner from their custody, and had commanded that the accusers should bring their charges against him before Felix. If Felix were to enquire of Lysias into the particulars, he would find the truth of the charges thus preferred against Paul. The Jewish elders then gave their evidence, to establish the facts alleged by Tertullus.
After this, the governor motioned with his hand to Paul that he might speak; and he immediately entered upon his defence. Without introducing the flatlery with which Tertullus had opened his address, Paul began by giving a good reason why he the more readily and gladly answered personally to the charges before Felix; who had been for upwards of six years, the civil and military governor of the country, and would consequently be well acquainted with its customs. He explained that twelve days before, he had gone to Jerusalem, to fulfil the sacred duties of religion in the temple. When there however, he had not occasioned any disputes by discoursing to the people, nor had he excited any tumults. Not only was it untrue that he had done so in the temple, but it could not be charged against him, that he had acted thus in the synagogues, or in the city. Indeed his accusers could bring no proof to support any of their charges against him. One thing however he was ready to acknowledge—that according to the way which his accusers considered to be heretical, he worshipped the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who were his fathers as well as theirs; and he did this because he believed every thing that was written in the Scriptures —the Law and the Prophets, as the whole book was termed by the Jews. Upon these he grounded his hope towards God-a hope which his accusers acknowledge, as they maintain that there will be a resurrection from death, both of the good and the bad—the just and the unjust ;under the influence of this hope, he constantly endeavoured to conduct himself, so that his conscience should not reproach him with any offence, either against God or man.
Paul went on to say that his religious opinions were not recent, but of long standing; and now after many years, during which he had openly professed them, he had come to Jerusalem for the purpose of conveying alms and offerings to people of his own nation. And under these circumstances it was, that some Asiatic Jews had found him in an act of religious observance in the temple, instead of profaning it, without any appearance of tumult or disturbance. The persons who had laid hold upon Paul, ought to have been brought forward to state the facts, if they could bring any against him. They were not present, but here were some of those who had seen him at his trial before the Sanhedrim. Let them testify whether they had any fault to find with his conduct upon that occasion ; unless indeed they could make a crime of the one speech he had uttered in the midst of them, that he was brought under accusation for maintaining the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.
After hearing Paul's defence, Felix began to have a clearer understanding of the nature of the christian's separation from the Jews; and finding that the case was one which involved an inquiry into the tumult which had been excited, he postponed his decision, telling the parties that as soon as the Tribune Lysias came to Cæsarea, he would fully investigate the particulars. In the meantime, he gave Paul into the charge of a centurion for safe custody; but he desired the officer to allow him to be at large, and not to prevent his intercourse with his friends.
In comparing the speeches of Tertullus and Paul, we may see the superiority of the wise and straightforward statement of truth by the one, over the cunning endeavour to establish falsehood of the other. Paul's wisdom in the manner of putting forth truth is manifested here, as we have already seen it in addressing the Jewish crowd, and the learned Rabbis of the Sanhedrim. In each case he was consistently faithful to his Lord, but in each case he adapted his appeal to the knowledge and feelings of those