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under our notice. Of Felix he says "seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence, we accept it always and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.” Of Paul, “ we have found this man a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes; who also hath gone about to profane the temple.' The Roman governor then, was a man in high repute and estimation, admired and beloved by a grateful people; the apostle on the contrary, was an object of almost universal scorn and hatred, as a mischievous promoter of tumult and disorder, the leader of a sect contemptible for their superstiton, and one who had dared to profane even the sacred temple of the Most High. If this were true, he was abominable in the sight both of God and
Such were their respective characters before the world. You require not to be told how grossly the world was deceived in both. Felix was living in vice and irreligion, injuring his neighbour, and dishonouring God; while if there was one man in existence more faithfully devoted than any other to the service of God, and more zealous in endeavouring to promote the true welfare of the human race, and particularly of his own nation, it was the reviled and persecuted apostle; and as their characters were misunderstood, so, no doubt, was their happiness.
St. Paul, calumniated, oppressed, imprisoned, hunted from place to place, scourged, stoned, a spectacle to men and angels for the afflictions that he suffered, was notwithstanding a happy man; his heart condemned him not, therefore he had confidence towards God. This, he says, was his
rejoicing, even the testimony of his conscience,” he enjoyed that tranquillity and satisfaction of mind, which resulted from the consciousness of his having diligently laboured to do his duty towards God and man, and “having in simplicity and godly sincerity had his conversation in the world;" he experienced that peace of God which passeth all understanding, which no worldly pleasures or advantages can impart, no worldly sorrows or troubles destroy. Did Felix enjoy a happiness to be compared with this ? He may have tasted the pleasures, the miserable pleasures of sin for a season, but in spite of his power, and wealth, and fame, and all the outward circumstances of fortune, which the blind world so stupidly admire and so eagerly covet, he was tormented with inward anxiety, that worm that never dieth, that fire that perpetually rages in the bosom of a conscious sinner. Such at least were his feelings when the apostle's reasonings instilled into his troubled mind a conviction of his sin, and an apprehension of his danger. A guilty conscience made him play the coward, in the presence of the prisoner on whom he had been seated in judgment. But it was not at Paul, that he was alarmed; it was at his own thoughts; his secret reflections were his torture. He shuddered at himself,—and that self he still bore about, and could not fly from; so that, though the apostle were removed from his sight, he still had the same cause to tremble; and though he may have stifled his convictions afterwards, and become hardened in iniquity, he never could have enjoyed true peace of mind; for there is no satisfaction in the ways of sin, “there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.” ”
Well might this devoted apostle set a high value on a good conscience, for he had himself ever enjoyed that great blessing. He says of himself (Acts xxiii. 1), “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day ;” and his language in the text is of the same import, “ herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men." From which I think we may conclude, that he had probably never wilfully and deliberately acted against his conviction of what
religion and virtue required. And observe, this is not the vain and glorious boast of a selfrighteous and self-justifying man; for although he was a pharisee, and the son of a pharisee, and had been brought up in the school of that outwardly rigorous, but too often secretly licentious sect, yet as he had none of their hypocrisy, so (at least, after his conversion to Christianity) he had none of their pride. No man was more humble, none more vile in his own sight, none more conscious of his natural weakness, none more sensible of his need of the free mercy of God through the blood of the atonement, and of the perpetual support of the Holy Spirit, to carry him successfully through his Christian course.
What was he in his own estimation? " The chief of sinners, ” « less than the least of all the saints,” “the least of the apostles, not worthy to be called an apostle.” And what was his opinion of the merits of our blessed Saviour, and of the doctrine of justification through faith in him alone ? It is needless for me to quote passages on this subject; open his epistles almost any where, and you will be satisfied ; one passage shall suffice on the present occasion; it is a very striking one, and therefore I will read it to you at length, as it confirms the belief already expressed, that he was always a sincere, conscientious man, and yet
am; and his
shows how entirely he rejected all thoughts of self-righteousness, and how fully he relied on Christ alone for salvation. (Read Philip. iii. 3 to 9).
And what view did he take of the necessity of divine aid ? Hear these two passages out of a multitude ;-“Not that we (speaking of himself in particular,) are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.” “By the grace of God I am what I
which was bestowed on me, was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all ; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Yet, although these were his doctrines, he was not one who thought it lawful to continue in sin that grace might abound. You have heard what value he set upon his own elear conscience; in another place he says, “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience ; ” and again, “we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.” Now observe how he urges the necessity of it upon others :-“the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” "This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, that thou mightest war a good warfare, holding faith, and a good conscience.” In his direction