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their unjust malice from an innocent person, as he was, against each other, he deserves commendati. on ; much more so, if we consider that in acting thus, he endeavoured to conciliate a large class of men to the Christian cause, by putting forward that important doctrine, which was most agreeable to their sentiments. So that, even while he declares himself a Pharisee, and for doing so, may, by captious men, be charged with evasion unworthy of his calling, he is promoting, instead of betraying, the interests of the Gospel, he disunites its enemies, holds fast the integrity of his faith, avows its glorious hopes and prospects, and displays them to others, as full assurances to confirm their be. lief in certain matters, and as pledges to engage their attachment to its whole doctrine. Had St. Paul discontinued all Jewish rites from the time of his conversion, there might be some pretence for saying, that on the present occasion he disguised the truth ; although I think without sufficient reason, because his design could not be mistaken ; which clearly was to declare hiinself a Pharisee, as to his belief of the resurrection : Christ's rising from the dead being the grand doctrine preached by him, as the carnest of a general resurrection. But surely he may be pronounced one in a much more extensive sense, if necessary; having kept up the practices used by the most rigorous of the sect,
both in his own person and others. What then appears in his conduct in the least degree inconsistent with sincerity and truth ? He has only followed the advice of his Divine Master, and has joined the wisdom of the serpent to the innocence of the dove.
And accordingly his prudence had the desired success : for when he had so said, there arose a dissention between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the multitude was divided." The multitude here spoken of, do not seem to mean the people, but the members of the great council, before whom St. Paul now stood ; and perhaps their assessors, such as the scribes and others learned in the law. I have already in another Lecture, spoken of the principles of both Pharisees and Sadducees.
It is difficult to think how these latter, professing an entire belief in the law of Moses, could deny the permanent existence of every spirit except that of God. To get over the difficulty of angels being so often there said to appear, they pretend that these were framed for particular occasions ; which, being answered, they then ceased to exist. And although they admitted a spirit in man, yet they denied its existence after death ; and in short of all other created spirits distinct from body. The Pharisees, on the other hand, held both doctrines, that of the resurrection, and that of angels, or separate spirits. Thus, by the
judicious choice of his matter, St. Paul wrought upon these the happiest effect : for they “ strove, saying we find no evil in this man, but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.” We are not informed in St. Luke's short account, whether any of them became converts to Christianity, But certainly their language, which ye have just heard, argues an impression on their minds highly favourable to St. Paul, and capable of being improved to most excellent purposes. It is, I believe, the first occasion, since the miraculous effusion of the Holy Ghost, in which a considerable body of Jews, of distinguished rank and learning, appear to shew such fair attention to the preaching of any Apostle ; and I doubt whether cven at that time we can justly conclude, that there were so many of this description ; for we merely infer this from the numbers then converted,
The dissention still increasing, and the chief captain fearing lest Paul should have been pulled to pieces by them, sent a body of soldiers to l'escuo him, and bring him back into the castle. Here the Lord Jesus appeared to him the same night to console him with assurances of his safety for the present, and to prepare him for the dise charge of his ministry at Rome, as well as at
Jerusalem : which, like many other matters of divine forewarning, was brought about in a natural manner, by the Apostle's appeal to Cæsar', as we shall see hereafter.
Next morning a conspiracy, confirmed by imprecation, was entered into by more than fifty men, “ that they would neither cat nor drink till they had killed Paul ;” an usage common enougli at this time with certain zealots among the Jews, who thought every crime sanctified by a pretence for their religion and law. And their own historians mention infinite slaughters committed by them upon these principles. Their design now was to have him, by desire of the great council, brought down again before it, as if more perfect enquiry were to be made concerning him; and on his way to murder him. But all this coming to the know. ledge of Lysias, as you will find it written in this chapter from the 16th to the 23d verse ; he like a good officer, and just man, frustrated their bloody intent; by sending Paul away the same night, under a strong military guard, to Felix the governor, who resided at Cesarea. At the same time he wrote letter, giving a brief account of the transaction, the charge against Paul, the violence of the Jews, and his own interposition to save him; then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman." You are not to suppose (as these words seem to imply) that Lysias took him out of their hands, because he was a Roman : for in the 21st chapter, St. Luke records his having done so, before he knew him to be a citizen of Rome. The expression means the same
as if he had said, and I have inderstood him to be a Roman : and it was probably introduced for the purpose of making an impression on the governor's mind in favour of the prisoner, to whose charge he had heard nothing laid “ worthy of death or of bonds."
How firm, just, and humane, is this conduct of the chief captain ! how very superior does he ap
pear to most men of his time having authority; - neither abusing it through insolence, nor debasing it by cowardice! Even they who were armed with the power of the state, had sometimes perverted that power to their own wicked views, and sometimes relaxed all the bonds of government, for fear of displeasing an unjust and cruel multitude. Thus Pontius Pilate, having oppressed and fleeced his province, endeavoured to make amends for his crimes, by gratifying popular fury with innocent blood ; while he was yet fully convinced of the iniquitous sentence; “ Why, what evil hath lie done ? I have found no cause of death in him.". Under such conviction the world could not have tempted Lysias to comply with so horrid a proposal. A third time he had saved Paul's life, to the great indignation of both the council and people of the Jews. Nor can it be doubted, that by this faithful discharge of his duty, he incurred their resentment, and exposed himself to their whole malice. Yet all this he set at nought, in comparison