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callous to the impressions of religion; and thus, by a repetition of sins, they involve themselves in eternal ruin. But let us pursue a better plan; let us, like St. Paul, endeavour to live in such a manner, as to have our conscience as a friend; which will be the case if, to the best of our abilities, we endeavour to maintain an inoffensive conduct both to GoD and man: then whatever injuries we may meet with from a mistaken world, we shall be enabled to bear them with patience, and shall be secured from the terrors of a judgment to come.
PAUL ACCUSED TO FESTUS.
From Acts, Chap, xxv..
WHEN Festus had taken possession of the province of Judea, he continued only three days at Cæsarea, which was the usual place of residence for the Roman governor; and then went up to Jerusalem, that he might see that celebrated city. Hearing of his arrival, the High Priest, and several persons of rank among the Jews, appeared before him with an accusation against Paul, and requested that he would send for him to Jerusalem, intending to have him assassinated on his journey. But Festus prudently answered, that it would be more convenient to himself to hear the cause at Cæsarea, and desired that Paul's accusers might accompany him in his return, which they accordingly did. They repeated their former accusation, which they could not bring witness to prove; while he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the Temple, nor yet against Cæsar, have I offended in any thing. Festus, willing to ingratiate himself with the Jews, asked Paul if he would go up to Jerusalem to be
tried? But he, knowing of the conspiracy that was before formed against his life, said, I stand at Cæsar's judgment-seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die; but if there be none of these things whereof they accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Cæsar, Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Cæsar? unto Cæsar shalt thou go.
Thus Paul continued in confinement by the order of Festus, till an opportunity offered of sending him to Rome. A short time after his appeal to Cæsar, king Agrippa, the son of Herod Agrippa, who had consider. able territories in that neighbourhood, and Bernice his sister, came to Cæsarea, to congratulate Festus on his arrival in his province. Among other topics of discourse which occurred, Festus mentioned Paul, and informed him of the application which the Chief Priests and Elders had made to have him tried at Jerusalem. Festus gave an account of the accusations they had brought against him at his tribunal, and of Paul's appeal to Cæsar. Agrippa replied, that he had heard much of Paul, and should like to learn from his own mouth what were his real principles. Festus, willing to oblige the king in this particular, told him, that he would command Paul to appear before him on the morrow, which he did, as is related in the next Section.
PAUL BEFORE AGRIPPA.
From Acts, Chap. xxv, xxvi.
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's commandment Paul was 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, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him..
Of whom I have no certain things to write unto my lord: Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and especially before thee, O king Agrippa, that after examination had, I might have something to write.
For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself;
I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself 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 and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.
My manner of life from my youth, which was at 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 most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
And now I stand, and am judged for the hope of the promise made of GoD unto our fathers:
Unto which promise our twelve tribes instantly serving GOD day and night hope to come: for which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
I verily 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 many of the saints did I shut up in prison, 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 compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities.
Whereupon as I went to Damascus, with authority and commission from the chief priests,
At mid-day, O 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 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 thou persecutest.
But rise and stand upon thy feet: for I have 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 to thee: Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
To open their eyes, 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 among them which are sanctified, by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O 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 Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should 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.
Having therefore obtained help of GoD, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those 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.
And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the 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.