Acts 23

* Paul's defence before the council of the Jews. (1-5) Paul's

defence. He receives a Divine assurance that he shall go to

Rome. (6-11) The Jews conspire to kill Paul, Lysias sends him to

Cesarea. (12-24) Lysias's letter to Felix. (25-35)

1-5 See here the character of an honest man. He sets God before

him, and lives as in his sight. He makes conscience of what he

says and does, and, according to the best of his knowledge, he

keeps from whatever is evil, and cleaves to what is good. He is

conscientious in all his words and conduct. Those who thus live

before God, may, like Paul, have confidence both toward God and

man. Though the answer of Paul contained a just rebuke and

prediction, he seems to have been too angry at the treatment he

received in uttering them. Great men may be told of their

faults, and public complaints may be made in a proper manner;

but the law of God requires respect for those in authority.
6-11 The Pharisees were correct in the faith of the Jewish

church. The Sadducees were no friends to the Scripture or Divine

revelation; they denied a future state; they had neither hope of

eternal happiness, nor dread of eternal misery. When called in

question for his being a Christian, Paul might truly say he was

called in question for the hope of the resurrection of the dead.

It was justifiable in him, by this profession of his opinion on

that disputed point, to draw off the Pharisees from persecuting

him, and to lead them to protect him from this unlawful

violence. How easily can God defend his own cause! Though the

Jews seemed to be perfectly agreed in their conspiracy against

religion, yet they were influenced by very different motives.

There is no true friendship among the wicked, and in a moment,

and with the utmost ease, God can turn their union into open

enmity. Divine consolations stood Paul in the most stead; the

chief captain rescued him out of the hands of cruel men, but the

event he could not tell. Whoever is against us, we need not

fear, if the Lord stand by us. It is the will of Christ, that

his servants who are faithful, should be always cheerful. He

might think he should never see Rome; but God tells him, even in

that he should be gratified, since he desired to go there only

for the honour of Christ, and to do good.
12-24 False religious principles, adopted by carnal men, urge

on to such wickedness, as human nature would hardly be supposed

capable of. Yet the Lord readily disappoints the best concerted

schemes of iniquity. Paul knew that the Divine providence acts

by reasonable and prudent means; and that, if he neglected to

use the means in his power, he could not expect God's providence

to work on his behalf. He who will not help himself according to

his means and power, has neither reason nor revelation to assure

him that he shall receive help from God. Believing in the Lord,

we and ours shall be kept from every evil work, and kept to his

kingdom. Heavenly Father, give us by thy Holy Spirit, for

Christ's sake, this precious faith.
25-35 God has instruments for every work. The natural abilities

and moral virtues of the heathens often have been employed to

protect his persecuted servants. Even the men of the world can

discern between the conscientious conduct of upright believers,

and the zeal of false professors, though they disregard or

understand not their doctrinal principles. All hearts are in

God's hand, and those are blessed who put their trust in him,

and commit their ways unto him.
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