Acts 24

* The speech of Tertullus against Paul. (1-9) Paul's defence

before Felix. (10-21) Felix trembles at the reasoning of Paul.

(22-27)

1-9 See here the unhappiness of great men, and a great

unhappiness it is, to have their services praised beyond

measure, and never to be faithfully told of their faults; hereby

they are hardened and encouraged in evil, like Felix. God's

prophets were charged with being troublers of the land, and our

Lord Jesus Christ, that he perverted the nation; the very same

charges were brought against Paul. The selfish and evil passions

of men urge them forward, and the graces and power of speech,

too often have been used to mislead and prejudice men against

the truth. How different will the characters of Paul and Felix

appear at the day of judgement, from what they are represented

in the speech of Tertullus! Let not Christians value the

applause, or be troubled at the revilings of ungodly men, who

represent the vilest of the human race almost as gods, and the

excellent of the earth as pestilences and movers of sedition.
10-21 Paul gives a just account of himself, which clears him

from crime, and likewise shows the true reason of the violence

against him. Let us never be driven from any good way by its

having an ill name. It is very comfortable, in worshipping God,

to look to him as the God of our fathers, and to set up no other

rule of faith or practice but the Scriptures. This shows there

will be a resurrection to a final judgment. Prophets and their

doctrines were to be tried by their fruits. Paul's aim was to

have a conscience void of offence. His care and endeavour was to

abstain from many things, and to abound in the exercises of

religion at all times; both towards God. and towards man. If

blamed for being more earnest in the things of God than our

neighbours, what is our reply? Do we shrink from the accusation?

How many in the world would rather be accused of any weakness,

nay, even of wickedness, than of an earnest, fervent feeling of

love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and of devotedness to his

service! Can such think that He will confess them when he comes

in his glory, and before the angels of God? If there is any

sight pleasing to the God of our salvation, and a sight at which

the angels rejoice, it is, to behold a devoted follower of the

Lord, here upon earth, acknowledging that he is guilty, if it be

a crime, of loving the Lord who died for him, with all his

heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And that he will not in

silence see God's word despised, or hear his name profaned; he

will rather risk the ridicule and the hatred of the world, than

one frown from that gracious Being whose love is better than

life.
22-27 The apostle reasoned concerning the nature and

obligations of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment to

come; thus showing the oppressive judge and his profligate

mistress, their need of repentance, forgiveness, and of the

grace of the gospel. Justice respects our conduct in life,

particularly in reference to others; temperance, the state and

government of our souls, in reference to God. He who does not

exercise himself in these, has neither the form nor the power of

godliness, and must be overwhelmed with the Divine wrath in the

day of God's appearing. A prospect of the judgment to come, is

enough to make the stoutest heart to tremble. Felix trembled,

but that was all. Many are startled by the word of God, who are

not changed by it. Many fear the consequences of sin, yet

continue in the love and practice of sin. In the affairs of our

souls, delays are dangerous. Felix put off this matter to a more

convenient season, but we do not find that the more convenient

season ever came. Behold now is the accepted time; hear the

voice of the Lord to-day. He was in haste to turn from hearing

the truth. Was any business more urgent than for him to reform

his conduct, or more important than the salvation of his soul!

Sinners often start up like a man roused from his sleep by a

loud noise, but soon sink again into their usual drowsiness. Be

not deceived by occasional appearances of religion in ourselves

or in others. Above all, let us not trifle with the word of God.

Do we expect that as we advance in life our hearts will grow

softer, or that the influence of the world will decline? Are we

not at this moment in danger of being lost for ever? Now is the

day of salvation; tomorrow may be too late.
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