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And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the tl.lcrs, and ivith a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul. And -when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence," etc. ACTS xxiv. 1-23. THE comfort given to the missionary in his extremity consists in an assurance, not that his troubles should cease, but that his witness-bearing should continue, The Lord knew what grieved his servant s heart; and in order to gladden it, announced, Thou shalt bear wit ness of me at Rome. This was the promise, and it must be fulfilled. Many and various agents will be pressed into the service in order to accomplish it. The bloodthirsty enmity of the Jewish priesthood, and the impartial dignity of Roman law; the plot of assassins, and the sharp-sighted love of kindred; the avarice of a profligate governor, and the discipline of the imperial legions, all conspired, like the several parts of a ma chine in motion, to preserve the missionary s life and transplant him to the metropolis of the world. At Caesarea the distinguished prisoner was kept, for protection as much as for restraint, until his accusers should arrive. In five days the persecutors were on the spot, and the case was called. The high priest in person, with several of his confederates, represented the Sanhedrim. The priests did not venture to conduct their own case. Already they had found Paul too much for them in debate. They knew by experience that he quickly detected the weak point in an adversary s argu ment, and had no mercy on sacerdotal impertinence.
Wise in their generation, the Jewish conclave hired a Roman advocate to conduct the prosecution. These men, after studying law in the capital, were wont to practise in the provinces. They were acquainted with legal forms, and with the judicial precedents: provin cial litigants found it their interest to employ them.
4O2 The Church in the House. It is by no means certain that the advocate used the Latin tongue; for examples occur in which the Greek was employed even in Rome. It was a rule with rhetoricians to compliment the presiding judge at the outset; and this part of his func tion Tertullus greatly overdid. He was able to point with truth to the suppression of certain bands of rob bers as a boon conferred on the country; but history proves that the governor s own cruel and lawless acts oppressed the people more than all the robbers he had rooted out. The glimpse which this book gives of Fe lix perfectly accords with the character he bears in contemporary history. He was a licentious, rapacious, cruel, and unjust man. After the advocate s exordium comes the indict ment against the prisoner. Its terms are suspiciously general. No specific act is libelled, but a vague scold ing accusation preferred against Paul as a pest and a disturber. Nothing strange has happened to this ser vant of Christ. The Master had warned his disciples that they should be accounted and called "offscour ings ; " but, at the same time, he pronounced them to be " the salt of the earth." The high priest and his colleagues appeared personally and assented to the statements of their advocate. When the case of the prosecutors was closed, the governor beckoned to Paul that he was at liberty to reply. The gravity and
order of a Roman tribunal contrast strongly with the lawless insolence of the high priest in his court at Jerusalem. Paul, too, like his adversary Tertullus, begins with a word of compliment to the presiding magistrate; but he utters no falsehood and no exaggeration. He only mentions an obvious fact, that the governor had long experience of the country. As to the substance of his address, it consists of two parts: those things in the accusation that were criminal were not true; and those that were true were not criminal. The crime. , falsely charged he denied, and challenged his accusers to the proof: the portions of the indictment that were true he confessed, and contended that they violated no law. Even in an oration, whose direct object was the
The Parties at the Bar. 403 demonstration of his own innocence and the preserva tion of his own life, Paul contrives incidentally to in dulge his ruling passion that is, to commend the gospel of Christ: he carefully points out that the belief of the gospel is not the rejection of the Mosaic system, but its natural result. He testifies to thoughtful Jews that the right understanding of Moses leads to the reception of Jesus as the Christ. In the matter of the resurrec tion, too, which was the immediate occasion of the tumult in the council at Jerusalem, his faith coincided with that of the Pharisees who were prosecuting him. Besides allusions to controverted doctrines, he in troduces a most interesting and instructive reference to personal, practical holiness of life; "Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men." This is a pre
cious morsel; especially when we consider the position in which it stands, and the circumstances in which it was given. In great ecclesiastical and doctrinal con tentions, such as those in which Paul was then engaged or those which agitate the Church in our own day, zeal in public debate too often overrides and crushes private, personal godliness and purity of conscience. It is reproving and instructive to observe that the Apostle of the Gentiles, at the very moment when he was compelled to contend alone against a nation leagued to destroy him, devoted himself habitually and with all his might to the growth of grace in his own soul, and the practice of righteousness in all his conduct. Clear in his logic as well as ardent in his affections, he rightly divides the word of truth on this subject for our instruction in the end of the world. Morality with Paul, as with Moses, diverges into two main channels, the first containing our duty to God, and the second our duty to man. He strove to have these two commandments written, not with ink, but on the fleshy tables of his heart. Let the conscience be clean, whether it point upward to God, or outward to men. The two great commandments in this preach er s life were, " Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself." Nor did this great saint find compliance easy. Obe dience to that law "exceeding broad" did not come
404 The ChurcJi in tJie House. to him by chance, without plan and effort. He speaks of it in the terms which belong to the drill of a soldier. It is a commonplace in military economy, that a soldier cannot be made in a day. Raw recruits, however per fect may be their arms and their uniform, are useless when they meet an enemy. Wherein really consists the strength of an army in the day of battle ? In the
previous exercise of the individual combatants. This conception Paul adopts and applies to his own life as a witness for Christ and a warfare against sin. For the motive to fight, and the will to make sacrifice on the side of holiness, he depends altogether on the re demption of Christ. He is bought with a price, and is therefore not his own; his life and all his faculties are at the disposal of the Lord that bought him; but for the skill and power to fight successfully on the side he has chosen he depends on a careful and constant exercise. The success of the Christian army in their holy war depends on the drill, day by day, of individ ual warriors. And if the Apostle of the Gentiles, a man great in the faith, found it necessary to maintain constantly a military watchfulness and practice, how presumptuous in any of us to count on keeping the course, and ac quiring the crown, by an indolent wish to be safe, with out a constant watchfulness, an energetic effort, and a more than military sternness in laying aside every weight, and the sin that doth most easily beset us. Soldiers are never done with exercise: although they have served honorably for a quarter of a century, they must still submit to drill. If the soldiers of Jesus Christ were as wise in their generation and as pains taking, more victories would be won, and more cap tives made. The kingdom of Christ would "come" in greater power, both in the hearts of individual disci ples and over the nations of the earth. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITINGS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
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