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who immediately subjoins these words concerning him, “ commanding his accusers to come to thee.” Where we clearly discover, that it was not from any partial kindness for Paul (except so far as he was injured and oppressed) but from a love of substantial justice, soberly and legally administered, that he took him out of their hands. He does not set him at liberty after his rescue, but keeps him in custody for a fair trial, of which he gives notice to his accusers. · After the accusations had been gone through, and witnesses examined in their support. Paul was permitted to make his defence : which he began thus : “ Forasmuch as I know that thou hast. been for many years a judge to this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself.” If we compare this exordium with that of Tertullus, we shall perceive a very marked distinction between them. In one point of view only is there any a. greement, and that is, their common purpose of paying respect to the chief magistrate. But while the one offers a vile adulation to liim, as if he had been a virtuous and mild governor instead of a scourge to his province, the other disdaining such insincerity, confines all his expressions of satisfaction to the knowledge and experience of his judge. However necessary to St. Paul's safety and even life, the favourable disposition of Felix must have appeared, yet to obtain it we find not the slightest departure from truth ; the tribute, which he can honestly pay, he freely bestows ; but he dares not praise, where he ought rather to condemn. We see in this conduct an admirable instance of becoming firmness; of proper submission sustained by conscious integrity.' And it is the more to be admired, because coming after the former, its guarded and sparing tender of praise must have been the more observable, and more offensive. To pass over in silence whatever has the least semblance of virtue in wicked men possessing authority, is generally looked upon as an insult upon their character ; especially when the occasion seems to call for some notice, and too commonly receives a false and servile adulation. The Apostle, however, was above all such meanness and falsehood : He therefore confines himself to the mention of those qualities, which he could justly commend, and from a proper exercise of which there could be no doubt of a favourable issue to his cause. Tertullus had raised a cloud of incense before the eyes of his judge, to regale his vanity and blind his judg-, ment. St. Paul chose rather to address his reason, and to appeal to that skill, which could not fail to result from an acquaintance of many years with the laws and customs of the nation.
The charge of sedition he repels by affirming, that in the short time since he had arrived at Jerusalem (which had been only twelve days since)
" they had not found him in the temple, disputing with any man.” Not that this would have been unlawful : for it was not forbidden the Jews to discuss matters of religion there, while they were at leisure from the sacrifices and appointed duties. But he was so far from committing the crime of sedition, that his behaviour did not furnish the least pretence for supposing him to have been engaged in any sort of controversy, however innocent and allowable. Now, considering the nature of those questions, whereof he stood accused, it is scarcely possible to conceive, that a man, wishing by means of disturbances to make Proselytes to his sect, should never once enter into the slightest contest of opinion upon the subject. In such cases the natural course is, stoutly and clamorously to maintain the new doctrines, and by putting down estáblished opinions first by argument, to prepare the way
for completing the business by force. Unless we · will suppose, that the design was conducted by se
cret machinations ; which is nothing like the accusation, and would require somewhat more than twelve days to acquire any front or bearing. The argument, therefore, against all intention of tumult or sedition is conclusive, particularly if we add the next point stated by the Apostle; that he was not seen 6 stirring up the people, either in the syna. gogues or in the city. Nor, says he, can they prove things, of which they now accuse me.” No man, after these undeniable assertions of innocence, joined to the challenge and defiance of his bitterest enemies to contradict him by any sort of proof, can imagine the least shadow of justice in this part of the charge. Indeed it was an extraordinary matter, that some slight appearance of truth was not given to the accusation, by the active character of St. Paul in his preaching and ministry. But nei. ther had they allowed suficient time for the operation of this cause ; nor does the Apostle himself appear to have yet entered on his office at Jerusalem, with his accustomed energy and spirit; probably waiting for the accomplishment of his vow, Certainly no part of his life is more perfectly free from every thing capable of misconstruction or malici, ous insinuation, under pretence of his being a dis, turber of the public peace, than this short period.
With respect to the complaint against him, as leader of the sect called Nazarenes, and which was evidently brought forward to uphold the charge of sedition, he makes the following candid and clear defence: “ I confess this unto thee, that after the way, which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets.” It was the intention of his accusers to fasten upon him the impya tation of bringing in a new religious heresy.* But this he takes care to remove, by acknowledging the ancient worship of the God of his fathers, and his entire faith in the revelation made to them. For so far was he from denying any of these things, that he considered them the foundation of that building, which was now finished, “ Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone." His doctrines, no doubt, most essentially differed from modern Judaism ; because he was willing to receive the light rejected by the Jews, and evidently saw the first covenant now perfected in that Messiah, who was to fulfil those oracles of God, in which he was foretold and pointed out. Whatever deviations then had been made from the true intent and spirit of the ancient religion, were imputable not to him, but to the Jews. He had not been guilty of any innovation. All the rites and ceremonies of the Law he admitted to be of divine institution, all the predictions of the prophets, as dictated by the Spirit of God: but the former, being manifestly typical of our great high priest and his service, and the latter descriptive of his time of coming, his manner of life and death, and the admission of all nations into his church, he kept his eye intent, upon the real object, in whom all types and promises centred ; and proved his attachment to the first dispensation, by embracing the second, to which it was wholly subservient. Yet so anxious was le not to give the least offence to his Jewish
* Justin Martyr says, that the Jews very early sent their emissaries into different nations, to denounce Christianity as an atheistical and wicked heresy.