Acts 23* Paul's defence before the council of the Jews. (1-5) Paul'sdefence. He receives a Divine assurance that he shall go toRome. (6-11) The Jews conspire to kill Paul, Lysias sends him toCesarea. (12-24) Lysias's letter to Felix. (25-35)1-5 See here the character of an honest man. He sets God beforehim, and lives as in his sight. He makes conscience of what hesays and does, and, according to the best of his knowledge, hekeeps from whatever is evil, and cleaves to what is good. He isconscientious in all his words and conduct. Those who thus livebefore God, may, like Paul, have confidence both toward God andman. Though the answer of Paul contained a just rebuke andprediction, he seems to have been too angry at the treatment hereceived in uttering them. Great men may be told of theirfaults, 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 Jewishchurch. The Sadducees were no friends to the Scripture or Divinerevelation; they denied a future state; they had neither hope ofeternal happiness, nor dread of eternal misery. When called inquestion for his being a Christian, Paul might truly say he wascalled in question for the hope of the resurrection of the dead.It was justifiable in him, by this profession of his opinion onthat disputed point, to draw off the Pharisees from persecutinghim, and to lead them to protect him from this unlawfulviolence. How easily can God defend his own cause! Though theJews seemed to be perfectly agreed in their conspiracy againstreligion, 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 openenmity. Divine consolations stood Paul in the most stead; thechief captain rescued him out of the hands of cruel men, but theevent he could not tell. Whoever is against us, we need notfear, if the Lord stand by us. It is the will of Christ, thathis servants who are faithful, should be always cheerful. Hemight think he should never see Rome; but God tells him, even inthat he should be gratified, since he desired to go there onlyfor the honour of Christ, and to do good. 12-24 False religious principles, adopted by carnal men, urgeon to such wickedness, as human nature would hardly be supposedcapable of. Yet the Lord readily disappoints the best concertedschemes of iniquity. Paul knew that the Divine providence actsby reasonable and prudent means; and that, if he neglected touse the means in his power, he could not expect God's providenceto work on his behalf. He who will not help himself according tohis means and power, has neither reason nor revelation to assurehim that he shall receive help from God. Believing in the Lord,we and ours shall be kept from every evil work, and kept to hiskingdom. Heavenly Father, give us by thy Holy Spirit, forChrist's sake, this precious faith. 25-35 God has instruments for every work. The natural abilitiesand moral virtues of the heathens often have been employed toprotect his persecuted servants. Even the men of the world candiscern between the conscientious conduct of upright believers,and the zeal of false professors, though they disregard orunderstand not their doctrinal principles. All hearts are inGod's hand, and those are blessed who put their trust in him,and commit their ways unto him.
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