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tion. He declared that there would surely come a day of judgment, when all would be rewarded according to the deeds done in the body, and when it would be plainly revealed that wealth, position, or titles are powerless to gain for man the favor of God, or to deliver him from the results of sin. He showed that this life is man's time of preparation for the future life. Should he neglect present privileges and opportunities, he would suffer an eternal loss; no new probation would be given him.
Paul dwelt especially upon the far-reaching claims of God's law. He showed how it extends to the deep secrets of man's moral nature, and throws a flood of light upon that which has been concealed from the sight and knowledge of men. What the hands may do or the tongue may utter,— what the outer life reveals,— but imperfectly shows man's moral character. The law searches his thoughts, motives, and purposes. The dark passions that lie hidden from the sight of men, the jealousy, hatred, lust, and ambition, the evil deeds meditated upon in the dark recesses of the soul, yet never executed for want of opportunity,- all these God's law condemns.
Paul endeavored to direct the minds of his hearers to the one great Sacrifice for sin. He pointed to the sacrifices that were shadows of good things to come, and then presented Christ as the antitype of all those ceremonies,— the object to which they pointed as the only source of life and hope for fallen man. Iloly men of old were saved by faith in the blood of Christ. As they saw the dying agonies of the sacrificial victims, they looked across
the gulf of ages to the Lamb of God that was to take away the sin of the world.
God justly claims the love and obedience of all His creatures. He has given them in His law a perfect standard of right. But many forget their Maker, and choose to follow their own way in opposition to His will. They return enmity for love that is as high as heaven and as broad as the uni
God cannot lower the requirements of His law to meet the standard of wicked men; neither can man, in his own power, meet the demands of the law. Only by faith in Christ can the sinner be cleansed from guilt, and be enabled to render obedience to the law of his Maker.
Thus Paul, the prisoner, urged the claims of the divine law upon Jew and Gentile, and presented Jesus, the despised Nazarene, as the Son of God, the world's Redeemer.
The Jewish princess well understood the sacred character of that law which she had so shamelessly transgressed; but her prejudice against the Man of Calvary steeled her heart against the word of life. But Felix had never before listened to the truth; and as the Spirit of God sent conviction to his soul, he became deeply agitated. Conscience, now aroused, made her voice heard; and Felix felt that Paul's words were true. Memory went back over the guilty past. With terrible distinctness there came up before him the secrets of his early life of profligacy and bloodshed, and the black record of his
He saw himself licentious, cruel, rapacious. Never before had the truth been thus brought home to his heart. Never before had his
soul been so filled with terror. The thought that all the secrets of his career of crime were open before the eye of God, and that he must be judged according to his deeds, caused him to tremble with dread.
But instead of permitting his convictions to lead him to repentance, he sought to dismiss these unwelcome reflections. The interview with Paul was cut short. “Go thy way for this time,” he said; “when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee."
How wide the contrast between the course of Felix and that of the jailer of Philippi! The servants of the Lord were brought in bonds to the jailer, as was Paul to Felix. The evidence they gave of being sustained by a divine power, their rejoicing under suffering and disgrace, their fearlessness when the earth was reeling with the earthquake shock, and their spirit of Christlike forgiveness, sent conviction to the jailer's heart, and with trembling he confessed his sins and found pardon. Felix trembled, but he did not repent. The jailer joyfully welcomed the Spirit of God to his heart and to his home; Felix bade the divine Messenger depart. The one chose to become a child of God and an heir of heaven; the other cast his lot with the workers of iniquity.
For two years no further action was taken against Paul, yet he remained a prisoner. Felix visited him several times, and listened attentively to his words. But the real motive for this apparent friendliness was a desire for gain, and he intimated that by the payment of a large sum of money Paul might secure
his release. The apostle, however, was of too noble a nature to free himself by a bribe. He was not guilty of any crime, and he would not stoop to commit a wrong in order to gain freedom. Furthermore, he was himself too poor to pay such a ransom, had he been disposed to do so, and he would not, in his own behalf, appeal to the sympathy and generosity of his converts. He also felt that he was in the hands of God, and he would not interfere with the divine purposes respecting himself.
Felix was finally summoned to Rome because of gross wrongs committed against the Jews. Before leaving Cæsarea in answer to this summons, he thought to “show the Jews a pleasure" by allowing Paul to remain in prison. But Felix was not successful in his attempt to regain the confidence of the Jews. He was removed from office in disgrace, and Porcius Festus was appointed to succeed him, with headquarters at Cæsarea.
A ray of light from heaven had been permitted to shine upon Felix, when Paul reasoned with him concerning righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. That was his heaven-sent opportunity to see and to forsake his sins. But he said to the messenger of God, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.''
He had slighted his last offer of mercy. Never was he to receive another call from God.
Paul Appeals to Caesar
“WHEN Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Cæsarea to Jerusalem. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, and desired favor against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem." In making this request they purposed to waylay Paul along the road to Jerusalem, and murder him. But Festus had a high sense of the responsibility of his position, and courteously declined to send for Paul. “It is not the manner of the Romans," he declared, “to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have license to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him.”' He stated that “he himself would depart shortly" for Cæsarea. “Let them therefore. which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him.”
1 Acts 25:16. This chapter is based on Acts 25:1-12.