Acts 26* Paul's defence before Agrippa. (1-11) His conversion andpreaching to the Gentiles. (12-23) Festus and Agrippa convincedof Paul's innocence. (24-32)1-11 Christianity teaches us to give a reason of the hope thatis in us, and also to give honour to whom honour is due, withoutflattery or fear of man. Agrippa was well versed in theScriptures of the Old Testament, therefore could the betterjudge as to the controversy about Jesus being the Messiah.Surely ministers may expect, when they preach the faith ofChrist, to be heard patiently. Paul professes that he still keptto all the good in which he was first educated and trained up.See here what his religion was. He was a moralist, a man ofvirtue, and had not learned the arts of the crafty, covetousPharisees; he was not chargeable with any open vice andprofaneness. He was sound in the faith. He always had a holyregard for the ancient promise made of God unto the fathers, andbuilt his hope upon it. The apostle knew very well that all thiswould not justify him before God, yet he knew it was for hisreputation among the Jews, and an argument that he was not sucha man as they represented him to be. Though he counted this butloss, that he might win Christ, yet he mentioned it when itmight serve to honour Christ. See here what Paul's religion is;he has not such zeal for the ceremonial law as he had in hisyouth; the sacrifices and offerings appointed by that, are doneaway by the great Sacrifice which they typified. Of theceremonial cleansings he makes no conscience, and thinks theLevitical priesthood is done away in the priesthood of Christ;but, as to the main principles of his religion, he is as zealousas ever. Christ and heaven, are the two great doctrines of thegospel; that God has given to us eternal life, and this life isin his Son. These are the matter of the promise made unto thefathers. The temple service, or continual course of religiousduties, day and night, was kept up as the profession of faith inthe promise of eternal life, and in expectation of it. Theprospect of eternal life should engage us to be diligent andstedfast in all religious exercises. Yet the Sadducees hatedPaul for preaching the resurrection; and the other Jews joinedthem, because he testified that Jesus was risen, and was thepromised Redeemer of Israel. Many things are thought to bebeyond belief, only because the infinite nature and perfectionsof Him that has revealed, performed, or promised them, areoverlooked. Paul acknowledged, that while he continued aPharisee, he was a bitter enemy to Christianity. This was hischaracter and manner of life in the beginning of his time; andthere was every thing to hinder his being a Christian. Those whohave been most strict in their conduct before conversion, willafterwards see abundant reason for humbling themselves, even onaccount of things which they then thought ought to have beendone. 12-23 Paul was made a Christian by Divine power; by arevelation of Christ both to him and in him; when in the fullcareer of his sin. He was made a minister by Divine authority:the same Jesus who appeared to him in that glorious light,ordered him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. A world thatsits in darkness must be enlightened; those must be brought toknow the things that belong to their everlasting peace, who areyet ignorant of them. A world that lies in wickedness must besanctified and reformed; it is not enough for them to have theireyes opened, they must have their hearts renewed; not enough tobe turned from darkness to light, but they must be turned fromthe power of Satan unto God. All who are turned from sin to God,are not only pardoned, but have a grant of a rich inheritance.The forgiveness of sins makes way for this. None can be happywho are not holy; and to be saints in heaven we must be firstsaints on earth. We are made holy, and saved by faith in Christ;by which we rely upon Christ as the Lord our Righteousness, andgive up ourselves to him as the Lord our Ruler; by this wereceive the remission of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, andeternal life. The cross of Christ was a stumbling-block to theJews, and they were in a rage at Paul's preaching the fulfillingof the Old Testament predictions. Christ should be the firstthat should rise from the dead; the Head or principal One. Also,it was foretold by the prophets, that the Gentiles should bebrought to the knowledge of God by the Messiah; and what in thiscould the Jews justly be displeased at? Thus the true convertcan give a reason of his hope, and a good account of the changemanifest in him. Yet for going about and calling on men thus torepent and to be converted, vast numbers have been blamed andpersecuted. 24-32 It becomes us, on all occasions, to speak the words oftruth and soberness, and then we need not be troubled at theunjust censures of men. Active and laborious followers of thegospel often have been despised as dreamers or madmen, forbelieving such doctrines and such wonderful facts; and forattesting that the same faith and diligence, and an experiencelike their own, are necessary to all men, whatever their rank,in order to their salvation. But apostles and prophets, and theSon of God himself, were exposed to this charge; and none needbe moved thereby, when Divine grace has made them wise untosalvation. Agrippa saw a great deal of reason for Christianity.His understanding and judgment were for the time convinced, buthis heart was not changed. And his conduct and temper werewidely different from the humility and spirituality of thegospel. Many are almost persuaded to be religious, who are notquite persuaded; they are under strong convictions of theirduty, and of the excellence of the ways of God, yet do notpursue their convictions. Paul urged that it was the concern ofevery one to become a true Christian; that there is grace enoughin Christ for all. He expressed his full conviction of the truthof the gospel, the absolute necessity of faith in Christ inorder to salvation. Such salvation from such bondage, the gospelof Christ offers to the Gentiles; to a lost world. Yet it iswith much difficulty that any person can be persuaded he needs awork of grace on his heart, like that which was needful for theconversion of the Gentiles. Let us beware of fatal hesitation inour own conduct; and recollect how far the being almostpersuaded to be a Christian, is from being altogether such a oneas every true believer is.
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