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down in? If honour has mistook his road, or the virtues, in their excesses, have approached too near the confines of vice, are they, therefore, to be cast down the precipice? Must beauty forever be trampled upon in the dirt for one-one false step? And shall no one virtue or good quality, out of the thousand the fair penitent may have left,—shall not one of them be suffered to stand by her ?—Just God of heaven and earth!

-But thou art merciful, loving, and righteous, and lookest down with pity upon these wrongs thy servants do unto each other. Pardon us, we beseech thee, for them, and all our transgressions ! let it not be remembered that we were brethren of the same flesh, the same feelings and infirmities! O my God! write it not down in thy book that thou madest us merciful after thy own image!-that thou hast given us a religion so courteous,-50 good temper'd, that every precept of it carries a balm along with it to heal the soreness of our natures and sweeten our spirits, that we might live with such kind intercourse in this world, as will fit us to exist together in a better!

SERMON XIX.

Felix's BEHAVIOUR TOWARDS PAUL,

EXAMINED.

ACTS XXIV. 26.

He hoped also, that money should have been given him of Paul,

that he might loose him.

A NOBLE object to take up the consideration of the Roman governor !

—“ He hoped that money should have been given him !”-for what end? To enable him to judge betwixt right and wrong ?-and, from whence was it to be wrung? From the poor script of a disciple of the carpenter's son, who left nothing to his followers but poverty and sufferings !

And was this Felix ?--the great, the noble Felix ! Felix the happy !-the gallant Felix, who kept Drusilla ? Could he do this ?-Base passion, what canst thou not make us do !

Let us consider the whole transaction.

Paul, in the beginning of this chapter, had been accused before Felix, by Tertullus, of very grievous crimes ;-of being a pestilent fellow,-a mover of seditions, and a profaner of the temple, &c.-To which accusations, the apostle having liberty from Felix to reply, he makes his defence, from the 10th to the 22d verse, to this purport :-He shews him, first, that the whole charge was destitute of all proof; which he openly challenges them to produce

against him, if they had it :-that, on the contrary, he was so far from being the man Tertullus had represented, that the very principles of the religion with which he then stood charged,--and which they called heresy, led him to be the most unexceptionable in his conduct, by the continual exercise which it demanded of him, of having a conscience void of offence at all times, both towards God and man:that consistently with this, his adversaries had neither found him in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, either in the synagogue, or in the city ;-for this he appeals to themselves :-that it was but twelve days since he came up to Jerusalem for to worship :-that during that time, when he purified in the temple, he did it as became him, without noise, without tumult : this he calls upon the Jews who came from Asia, and were eye-witneses of his behaviour, to attest ;-and, in a word, he urges the whole defence before Felix in so strong a manner, and with such plain and natural arguments of his innocence, as to leave no colour for his adversaries to reply.

There was, however, still one adversary in this court,—though silent, yet not satisfied.

-Spare thy eloquence, Tertullus! roll up the charge : a more notable orator than thyself is risen up,'tis avarice; and that too in the most fatal place for the prisoner it could have taken possession of :-'tis in the heart of the man who judges him.

If Felix believed Paul innocent, and acted accordingly;--that is, released him without reward,—this subtile advocate told him he would lose one of the profits of his employment;--and if he acknowledg.

ed the faith of Christ, which Paul occasionally ex. plained in his defence,-it told him, he might lose the employment itself;-so that, notwithstanding the character of the apostle appeared (as it was) most spotless, and the faith he professed so very clear, that as he urged it, the heart gave its consenty-yet, at the same time, the passions rebelled; and so strong an interest was formed thereby, against the first impressions in favour of the man and his cause, that both were dismissed ;--the one to a more convenient hearing, which never came; the other to the hardships of a prison for two whole years,—hoping, as the text informs us, that money should have been given him: and even at the last, when he left the province, willing to do the Jews a pleasure;—that is, to serve his interest in another shape, with all the conviction upon his mind that he had done nothing worthy of bonds, he, nevertheless, left the holy man bound, and consigned over to the " hopeless prospect of ending his days in the same

state of confinement in which he had ungenerously left him.

One would imagine, as covetousness is a vice not naturally cruel in itself, that there must certainly haye been a mixture of other motives in the gove ernor's breast, to account for a proceeding so contrary to humanity and his own conviction : and could it be of use to raise conjectures upon it, there seems but too probable grounds for such a supposition. It seems that Drusilla, whose curiosity, upon a double account, had led her to hear Paul,—(for she was a daughter of Abraham-as well as of Eve) -was a character which might have figured very well even in our own times; for, as Josephus tells

us, she had left the Jew her husband ; and, without any pretence in their law to justify a divorce, had given herself up without ceremony to Felix; for which cause, though she is here called his wife, she was, in reason and justice, the wife of another mang-and consequently lived in an open state of adultery ;-so that when Paul, in explaining the faith of Christ, took occasion to argue upon the morality of the gospel,—and urged the eternal laws of justice, the unchangeable obligations to temperance, of which chastity was a branch-it was scarce possible to frame his discourse so (had he 'wished to temporize) but that either her interest or her love must have taken offence: and though we do not read, like Felix, that she trembled at the account, 'tis yet natural to imagine she was affected with other passions, of which the apostle might feel the effects ;-and 'twas well he suffered no more, if two such violent enemies as lust and avarice were combined against him.

But this by the way ;-for as the text seems only to acknowledge one of these motives, it is not our business to assign the other.

It is observable, that this same apostle, speaking, in the Epistle to Timothy, of the ill effects of this same ruling passion, affirms, that it is the root of all evil; and I make no doubt but the remembrance of his own sufferings had no small share in the severity of the reflection.-- Infinite are the examples where the love of money is only a subordinate and ministerial passion, exercised for the support of some other vices: and 'tis generally found, when there is either ambition, prodigality, or lust, to be fed by it, that it then rages with the least mercy and

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