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Paul; and they begged of him as a favour, that he would order him to be brought to Jerusalem for trial. In asking this, they intended that Paul should be set upon in the course of the journey, and assassinated. The new governor however merely replied, that Paul was kept a prisoner at Cæsarea, and that he himself was about to proceed to the same place; therefore he desired that any competent person amongst them might be selected to go to Cæsarea with him on his return, and bring forward whatever charges they had against the prisoner.
Festus remained in Jerusalem about ten days, after which he returned to Cæsarea; and when there, he procecded on the following day to hear the cause of Paul, for which purpose he sat on the judgment-seat, and the prisoner was brought before him. The Jews from Jerusalem crowded the tribunal, and brought many heavy accusations against Paul; for none of which they could bring any proof. Paul, in reply, simply denied every charge laid against him. He declared that he had committed no offence, either contrary to the Jewish law-nor in profanation of the temple--nor of a political nature against the Roman government. Festus perceived in the course of this enquiry, (of which the outline only appears to be related), that the subject in dispute was one which belonged entirely to the Jewish customs; and as he felt desirous of making a favourable impression upon the Jews upon coming to be their ruler, he asked Paul whether he was willing to have his cause carried into the Jewish tribunal at Jerusalem, which could decide on nothing without the sanction and authority of the governor himself. Festus put the proposal in this form, because Paul, as a Roman citizen, possessed the privilege of claiming to be tried for any offence in the Roman courts. Paul not only knew this, but he knew also the inveterate enmity of the Sanhedrim, from whom he could not expect to receive justice. He therefore declared that, as a Roman, he could be judged only by Roman judges. He was there before the representative of the Roman emperor in judgment. He had done nothing which could subject him to the laws of the Jews, against which he had not offended : of this Festus was well aware. If he were a criminal, and had become amenable to a capital punishment, he would not shrink from the sentence; but if he was innocent of all the crimes laid to his charge, it was contrary to the Roman law to deliver him up to the Jews. Then finding there was no other means of safety for him, he exercised his privilege as a Roman, and appealed to the emperor himself; " I appeal,” said he, "to Cæsar.”
Upon this Festus consulted the Roman officers of the Council, which assisted the governor in the management of the province. As the right of appeal to the emperor belonged to every Roman citizen, no Procurator had power to refuse it; and Festus, after thus deliberating, turned to Paul, and informed him that his should be allowed, and that he should be sent to the presence of the emperor.
1. How undying is the power of indulged hatred in the natural heart of man! For two years Paul had been kept at Cæsarea, and the burst of violent excitement against him in the Temple, which had produced his detention by the Romans, might be supposed to have passed away. But the malice which made forty men bind themselves, under a curse of anathema if they took food before they took the life of Paul, was only increased by their failure; and the moment a favourable opportunity occurred, by the arrival of a new governor,
" the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and desired favour against him," that the old plot might be executed at last. The same Providence however, that preserved the apostle before, arranged events for his safety now. It is only upon rare occasions that such a degree of malicious feeling is plainly manifested; but the occasions are not rare upon which some less striking tokens appear of a similar root of bitterness in the heart. An enemy is hated while events bring the cause of the enmity before the mind-events alter for a season--the person passes from the present thoughts, and nothing occurs to bring out unkindness of feeling. Years pass; the heart is not vexed with occasions of anger, and the conscience is not burthened with any sense of hatred. But events alter again, and the enemy comes once more before the mind. Then is the test whether the heart has What is my
really learned to love in forgetting to hate. Yet how often does the uprising of the old feeling of enmity prove that the evil was always there!
QUESTION. Have I ever had a feeling of enmity against any person who has not lately come in contact with me? remembrance of that person now ? Does it bear the stamp of the old hatred? or that of the love of Christ shed abroad in my
heart? 2. The circumstances connected with Paul's appeal to the Roman emperor, give a strong proof of his forbearance, and of his entire dependence, upon the ordering of God's providence for the fulfilment of that which was appointed for him. The apostle could have put in his appeal more than two years before; and he knew that it would have led to that very thing which we have already seen was the earnest desire of his heart-it would have taken him to Rome. To have made such an appeal however, when no emergency required it, would have been to have gone out of the way to accomplish an end by his own wisdom, which could only be properly attained by the ordering of God's providence. The two years of his personal restraint at Cæsarea must have been a great trial. to his ardent affections; but he knew that the Lord would accomplish what He had promised him that he should bear witness of Him at Rome (Acts xxiii. 11); and so he waited in a faithful dependence, which made him forbear to take any step in his own wisdom. When however the
When however the emergency became such as left him no choice for safety but an appeal, which would take him from the malice of his Jewish enemies, then his course became plain ; and he took advantage of his privilege as a Roman citizen, the consequences of which legitimately brought about the result he so greatly desired. Such forbearance is not common. The heart is too ready to jump at any opportunity of doing that which we greatly desire ; and many of our arrangements are taken out of the safe ordering of God's providence, into the unsafe management of our own wisdom.
Do I act upon my own plans and desires, so far as I have the power of doing so without hindrance? or do I wait to see whether the providence of God gives any indication of His will in the matter ?
O God Almighty, whose love first found the way to reconcile sinners to thyself by the sacrifice of thy dear Son, shed abroad thy love within my heart, that I may be delivered from all feelings of hatred; and may learn of Jesus Christ to love my enemies if I have any, and to desire to overcome all evil towards me by good towards others. Bestow upon me the spirit of faithful dependence in thy promises given to thy people; and teach me how to restrain my desires within the limits of thy will. Guide me by thy providential care—lead me in a plain pathenable me to wait on thee while I walk therein, that thou mayst perfect that which concerneth me, through Jesus Christ our Saviour. AMEN.
Festus consults Agrippa. PLACE.Cæsarea.
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. XXV. verses 13 to 22. And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Cæsarea 13 to salute Festus. And when they had been there many days, Festus 14 declared Paul's case unto the king, saying, “There is a certain man left 15 in bonds by Felix : about whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. To whom I answered, “It is not the manner of the 16 Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and bave licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.' Therefore, when they were come 17 hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and cominanded the man to be brought forth. Against whom when the 18
accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I 19 supposed : but bad certain questions against him of their own supersti
tion, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20 And because I doubted of such manner of questions, [or, I was doubtful
how to enquire hereof,] I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, 21 and there be judged of these matters. But when Paul had appealed
unto the hearing [or, judgment] of Augustus, I commanded him to be
kept till I might send him to Cæsar.” 22 Then Agrippa said unto Festus, “I would also hear the man myself.” “ To morrow," said he, “thou shalt hear him.”
EXPLANATION. Not long after Paul had made his appeal to the emperor, rather than be brought before the Sanhedrim, Festus received a visit of congratulation upon his appointment to the government from Agrippa, who was accompanied by his sister Bernice, a woman of very infamous character. This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa, an account of whose death was given in the twenty-second portion ; (Acts xii. 20—23, page 162; see also Acts xii. 1-19, page 152); and had succeeded to a part of his father's dominion, which he was allowed by the Roman emperor to retain with the title of king. Agrippa remained a long while at Cæsarea, and towards the end of his visit Festus mentioned the case of Paul, as one of which Agrippa, being a Jew, was likely to be able to judge. Festus told him that he had a prisoner left in confinement by Felix, concerning whom the chief priests and elders of the Jews had urged him, when he was at Jerusalem, to pass sentence of condemnation. But Festus said he had told them that it was contrary to the Roman customs, to inflict capital punishment on any man until he had been brought to trial for the offence charged against him, and had the opportunity of defending himself. The earnestness of the Jews had induced Festus (as he told Agrippa) to proceed in the case without any delay, so that on the day after his return to Cæsarea, he had this prisoner brought before him in open court; but the persons who appeared as his accusers had no such charge against him, as the Procurator had imagined, but his crime seemed to be connected with some points of their own particular worship, and related to a deceased person of the name of Jesus, one whom this