Acts 24* The speech of Tertullus against Paul. (1-9) Paul's defencebefore Felix. (10-21) Felix trembles at the reasoning of Paul.(22-27)1-9 See here the unhappiness of great men, and a greatunhappiness it is, to have their services praised beyondmeasure, and never to be faithfully told of their faults; herebythey are hardened and encouraged in evil, like Felix. God'sprophets were charged with being troublers of the land, and ourLord Jesus Christ, that he perverted the nation; the very samecharges were brought against Paul. The selfish and evil passionsof men urge them forward, and the graces and power of speech,too often have been used to mislead and prejudice men againstthe truth. How different will the characters of Paul and Felixappear at the day of judgement, from what they are representedin the speech of Tertullus! Let not Christians value theapplause, or be troubled at the revilings of ungodly men, whorepresent the vilest of the human race almost as gods, and theexcellent of the earth as pestilences and movers of sedition. 10-21 Paul gives a just account of himself, which clears himfrom crime, and likewise shows the true reason of the violenceagainst him. Let us never be driven from any good way by itshaving 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 otherrule of faith or practice but the Scriptures. This shows therewill be a resurrection to a final judgment. Prophets and theirdoctrines were to be tried by their fruits. Paul's aim was tohave a conscience void of offence. His care and endeavour was toabstain from many things, and to abound in the exercises ofreligion at all times; both towards God. and towards man. Ifblamed for being more earnest in the things of God than ourneighbours, 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 oflove to the Lord Jesus Christ, and of devotedness to hisservice! Can such think that He will confess them when he comesin his glory, and before the angels of God? If there is anysight pleasing to the God of our salvation, and a sight at whichthe angels rejoice, it is, to behold a devoted follower of theLord, here upon earth, acknowledging that he is guilty, if it bea crime, of loving the Lord who died for him, with all hisheart, and soul, and mind, and strength. And that he will not insilence see God's word despised, or hear his name profaned; hewill rather risk the ridicule and the hatred of the world, thanone frown from that gracious Being whose love is better thanlife. 22-27 The apostle reasoned concerning the nature andobligations of righteousness, temperance, and of a judgment tocome; thus showing the oppressive judge and his profligatemistress, their need of repentance, forgiveness, and of thegrace of the gospel. Justice respects our conduct in life,particularly in reference to others; temperance, the state andgovernment of our souls, in reference to God. He who does notexercise himself in these, has neither the form nor the power ofgodliness, and must be overwhelmed with the Divine wrath in theday of God's appearing. A prospect of the judgment to come, isenough to make the stoutest heart to tremble. Felix trembled,but that was all. Many are startled by the word of God, who arenot changed by it. Many fear the consequences of sin, yetcontinue in the love and practice of sin. In the affairs of oursouls, delays are dangerous. Felix put off this matter to a moreconvenient season, but we do not find that the more convenientseason ever came. Behold now is the accepted time; hear thevoice of the Lord to-day. He was in haste to turn from hearingthe truth. Was any business more urgent than for him to reformhis conduct, or more important than the salvation of his soul!Sinners often start up like a man roused from his sleep by aloud noise, but soon sink again into their usual drowsiness. Benot deceived by occasional appearances of religion in ourselvesor 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 growsofter, or that the influence of the world will decline? Are wenot at this moment in danger of being lost for ever? Now is theday of salvation; tomorrow may be too late.
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