صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

with his sense of right, and the life of an innocent man. His behaviour too was perfectly impartial, and not dictated by any personal dislike to the Jews: for we find him, while yet ignorant of Paul's offence, proceeding with severity to draw from him a confession. But at length understanding the matter whereof he was accused, to be no more than questions of their law," without involving any crime against the state, he resolves to protect him from an enraged populace, set on by wicked leaders. And the discretion, vigour and moderation, with which he acted, deserves the highest praise. His was not a mere indolent wish to have justice done; it was prudent foresight and active exertion, combined to give that wish the best effect. Upon the whole, he is a good example, to all men in similar situations, of unbiassed integrity, manly steadiness, and just observation.

Upon the arrival of St. Paul at Cesarea, the governor having read the letter, of the chief captain, asked of what province he was, and when he understood that he was of Cilicia, I will hear thee, said he, when thine accusers are also come ; and he commanded him, in the meantime, to be kept in Herod's judgment hall." Considering the character of Felix, who is represented by history as onc, who ruled the province with all the authority of a king, and the insolence of a freed slave, whom neither shame nor fear could restrain, the reception

given by him to St. Paul seems to have been very fair and courteous; and probably was owing to the letter which accompanied him. He also appears to acknowledge that sound principle of justice, which requires both accusers and accused to be present, and confronting each other at the time of trial, and will neither acquit nor condemn before that previous step be taken. The word, above rendered judgment hall, signifies the house of the Prætor, where causes were sometimes heard. This at Cesarea is called Herod's, because it was built by Herod the Great for his own palace ; but afterwards it was converted into a residence for the Roman governor, one part being made a place of confinement for particular prisoners. It is no harsh conjecture to say, that probably these were better treated, than such as were committed to the common prison.

[ocr errors]

We have now examined the circumstances of St. Paul's conduct and treatment at Jerusalem. The next Lecture shall contain reflections on his demeanour at Cesarea, both before Felix and his successor Porcius Festus ; wherein we shall find him, as on all former occasions, maintaining his character for truth, integrity, fortitude, and vigour, supported by a firm trust in God, and a noble zeal for his service.



FELIX having remitted Paul's trial till the ar

rival of his accusers, as we saw in the last Lecture; after five days Ananias the High Priest descended (from Jerusalem to Cesarea) with the Elders, and with a certain orator, named Tertullus; who informed the governor (or appeared before him in quality of accusers) against Paul." This Tertullus is generally supposed to be a Roman, who was on this occasion chosen by the Jews to manage the cause, on account of his superior knowledge in the laws and forms most respected by the governor, and in the language which was to be employed on the trial.

He begins his oration with a flattering address to the judge, for the purpose of conciliating his attention and benevolence. With this view he alludes to such matters as did most credit to his administration for amidst a multitude of high crimes and gross acts of misgovernment, Felix had the good


[ocr errors]

fortune to perform a few services conducive to the peace and tranquillity of his province." Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, says the orator, and that very worthy deeds are done to this nation by thy providence; we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness." After somewhat more to the same effect he proceeds in his accusation, charging Paul with being a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes." In this part of the charge he endeavours by false assertions to raise a prejudice against the prisoner, as if his offences had disturbed the quiet and good order of government; although, as Lysias had stated in his letter, they were in fact nothing more than differences with the Jews about questions of their law. And to give the greater colour to these assertions, he calls him the ringleader of a new sect named Nazarenes, after Jesus of Nazareth its founder: because the introduction of all new religions and strange gods was forbidden by the Roman law. Thus by connecting a fact, in some measure true, and in his manner of representing it not strictly

* Among these were his etions against the Siccarií or Assassins, who committed infinite murders, and against magical impostors. Of the former he destroy-. ed the chief leader Eleazer; and of the latter the Egyptian false prophet spoken of before.

authorised, with the accusation of turbulence and sedition, he would confound both in the mind of the judge, so that he might not be able to separate one from the other, but on the acknowledged truth of part should establish guilt in the whole.

The next point, urged by him against the Apostle, relates to his profaning the temple by bringing Heathens within the court of the Israelites: which offence, says he, we would have judged according to our law." If Tertullus meant by these words to maintain a right in the Jews to proceed capitally in this case against Paul, the position was false both in argument and fact. For it was the Heathen, who presumed to pass the forbidden bounds, that was to be punished with death; neither had Paul introduced such an one into the temple. And he is guilty of another misrepresentation, in the next sentence, against the chief captain Lysias, as though he had by violence stopt the due course and execution of law: whereas his interposition was made to prevent a tumultuous outrage against all law and justice. If to rescue an innocent man, who had committed no crime, deserve to be branded with the name of violence, the insinuation is just; ctherwise it is nothing but a false gloss upon a bad cause, which could not be supported by fair and true statements. And indeed the honest motive of the chief captain is plainly to be collected from the orator himself,


« السابقةمتابعة »