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Paul declared to be alive. Then Festus told Agrippa that, not feeling himself competent to enter upon that sort of question, he had proposed to Paul that he should be sent to Jerusalem, and have his cause tried there; but that Paul had made an appeal to the judgment of the emperor himself. For which reason he had given orders that he should be detained at Cæsarea until a proper opportunity should occur of sending him to Rome.
Agrippa told Festus that he would have liked to have heard what the man had to say; and Festus immediately declared that he should have an opportunity of doing so upon the following day.
The estimate formed by the men of the world of the comparative importance of different matters, is very far from that which they would make if they could realize the unseen things of spiritual life. A new governor comes from Rome—the king of another portion of the empire pays him a visit of congratulation this must have been an important concern to them both, and to all around them. The display of wealth—the feasts-the gamesthese must have been the most interesting and occupying events at such a time, with such persons as Festus, and Agrippa, and Bernice, and their courts. And these things did interest and occupy them for a long time before any mention occurred of “a certain man,” against whom the Jews desired to have their sentence of death confirmed. Yet this “certain man” was the object of the watchful care of angels, who received command from the Most High to order all things so as to work towards the purpose of the Divine will; a man, compared with whom both the Roman governor and the Jewish king were utterly insignificant ; their very names would have been unnoticed in the New Testament, but for their connection with the despised prisoner, whose case happened to recur to the mind of Festus, after the more important entertainment of his royal guest had lost its freshness. The wicked Agrippa and the wicked Festus have both passed out of this world : how different is the estimate they form now of the value of spiritual things, and of the value of all worldly things! And yet how few profit as they ought by this recorded instance of their false estimate, though numberless occasions continually occur in which we may manifest whether we realize the unseen and heavenly things with sufficient power to induce us to care for the circumstances and condition of the children of God, before those indulgences connected with earthly matters.
QUESTION. In what point of view do I regard the events which affect true christians ? and what degree of importance do I attach to them, above that with which I regard matters of worldly interest?
Thou gracious God, who makest all things to work together for good to them that love thee, give me such love toward thee, that I may consider that to be valuable which tends to thy glory, and those things to be unimportant which relate only to the world which passeth away. Give me grace ever to manifest that my estimate of the value of all things is according to the mind of Christ Jesus, our Saviour. AMEN.
Paul before 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. verse 23 to XXVI. 32. 23 And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great
pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains,
and principal men of the city, at Festus' commandment Paul was 24 brought forth. And Festus said, “ King Agrippa, and all men which
are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude
of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, cry25 ing that he ought not to live any longer. But when I found that he
had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself bath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. Of whom I have 26 no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. For it seeineth to 27 me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to siguify the crimes laid against him.” Then Agrippa said unto Paul, “ Thou art permitted to speak for
26 thyself.” Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: “ I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for my- 2 self this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews : especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs 3 and questions whicà are among the Jews : wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. My manner of life from my youth, which was at 4 the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the 5 most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand 6 and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers : unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God 7 day and night, [night and day], hope to come. For which hope's sake, kins Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. Why should it be thought a 8 thiug incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? I verily 9 thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem : and 10 many of the saints did I shut up in prisori, having received authority from the chief priests ; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and 11 compelled them to blaspheme ; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. Whereupon as I went 12 to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at 13 midday, 0 king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice 14 speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.' And I said, “Who art thou, Lord ?' And he said, 'I am Jesus whom 15 thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet : for I have 16 appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; delivering thee from the people, 17 and froin the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, 18 and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance
19 among them that are sanctified by faith that is in me.' Whereupon, O 20 king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision : but
shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout
all the coasts of Judæa, and then to the Gentiles, that they should 21 repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these
causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 22 Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, wit
nessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those 23 which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should
suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and
should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.” 24 And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice,
“ Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad." 25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the 26 words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things,
before whom also I speak freely : for I am persuaded that none of these
things are hidden from him ; for this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets ? I know that thou 28 believest.” Then Agrippa said unto Paul, “ Almost thou persuadest me 29 to be a Christian." And Paul said, “I would to God, that not only
thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altoge
ther such as I am, except these bunds." 30 And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, 31 and Bernice, and they that sat with them : and when they were gone
aside, they talked between themselves, saying, “This man doeth nothing 32 worthy of death or of bonds." Then said Agrippa unto Festus, “ This
man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar."
Festus did not delay to gratify Agrippa's desire, but appointed the very next day for a public examination of Paul. Agrippa, with Bernice, came in royal state to the Hall of Audience, where were assembled also both the military and civil authorities of the city of Cæsarea before Festus. At his command the prisoner was introduced, bound in the usual manner to a Roman soldier by means of a short chain, fastened to the right arm of the one and the left of the other.
The Roman governor then addressed king Agrippa and the assembly, pointing out Paul to them as the man, whose death had been urgently entreated by the Jews, both of Jerusalem and of Cæsarea. But Festus declared
that he could not discover that Paul had by any crime exposed himself to capital punishment; and as he had appealed to be heard before the emperor himself, Festus had determined to send him. But he was at a loss how to allege the grounds of offence and appeal, in writing the explanatory letter to the sovereign ; and this was his reason for holding the present examination and inquiry in the
presence of those whom he had assembled, and more especially of king Agrippa, in order that he might have a distinct account to give; because it did not seem a reasonable thing to send a man to Rome as a prisoner, without being able to specify the crime with which he was charged.
King Agrippa then desired Paul to state his own case; and Paul, stretching forth his hand, began his address.
He first stated his satisfaction at having the present opportunity of defending himself against all the accusations of the Jews before king Agrippa, whom he knew to be well instructed in the Jewish laws and customs, and in the difficulties which might arise in their interpretation. As for this reason he might go somewhat into detail, he begged of Agrippa to give him a patient hearing.
From his earliest youth he had been brought up amongst his own people at Jerusalem, and lived according to the rule of the Pharisees, the strictest and most religious class of Jews. This was well known by all the Jews, who were able, if they were willing, to testify to the truth of what he said ; and yet he was arraigned as a criminal, for maintaining that which was the hope resulting from the promise made by God to Abraham, and the fathers of the Jewsa promise in which the whole body of the children of Israel express their hope, by their diligent daily service of God. Now it was on account of this very hope that Paul was accused of the Jews. What! was it supposed that the resurrection of the dead was a thing beyond belief? Paul said that he himself had indeed once imagined, that it was a bounden duty for him actively to oppose the spread of the doctrines concerning Jesus of Nazareth. And this duty he had endeavoured to perform in Jerusalem; and had been the means of casting many christians into prison, having been commissioned in this matter by