Page images

violence. Tacitus tells us, that he made his and secure the lives and fortunes of the will the law of his government, practising people from the unjust encroachments and all manner of cruelty and injustice. To these rigorous severities of the magistrates, wherequalities he added bribery and covetousness; by it was lawful, in cases of oppression, 10 and therefore often sent for our apostle to dis. appeal to the people for redress; a thing course with him, expecting he would have more than once settled by the sanction of the given him a considerable sum for his release; Valerian law. having, in all probability, beard that St. Paul had brought a large quantity of money to Some time after St Paul bad appealed Jerusalem

unto Cæsar, king Agrippa, who succeeded

Herod in the tetrarchate of Galilee, and his But finding no offers were made him, either sister Bernice, came to Cæsarea, to visit the by the apostle himself, or his friends, he kept new governor. Festus embraced this opporhim prisoner two years; when he himself be tunity of mentioning the case of our apostle ing discharged from his office by Nero, he left to king Agrippa, together with the remarkPaul in prison, in order to gratify the malice able tumult this affair bad occasioned among of the Jews, and engage them to speak the the Jews, and the appeal he bad made to better of his government, after his departure Cæsar. This account excited the curiosity of from Judea.

king Agrippa, and he was desirous of hearing

himself what St. Paul bad to say in his own Felix was succeeded in the government of vindication. . the province by Portius Festus, before whom, at his first coming to Jerusalem, the high Accordingly, the next day, the king and priest and Sanhedrim preferred an indictment his sister, accompanied with Festus the goagainst Paul, desiring that he might be sent vernor, and several other persons of distincfor up to Jerusalem, in order to take trial, in tion, came into the court, with a pompous tending to assassinate him by the way. But and splendid retinue, where the prisoner Festus told them, that he was shortly go was brought before them. On his appearing himself to Cæsarea, and that if they had ing, Festus informed the court how greatly any complaint against Paul, they should come he had been importuned by the Jews, both down thither, and accuse him.

at Cæsarea and Jerusalem, to put the prisoner

to death as a malefactor! but having, on exAccordingly, as soon as he was come to

amination, found him guilty of no capital Cæsarea, he ascended the tribunal, where

crime, and the prisoner himself having apthe Jews renewed the charge they had before

pealed unto Cæsar, he was determined to brought against Paul; but the apostle soon

send him to Rome, but was willing to have his cleared bimself of every part of the charge,

cause dehated before Agrippa, that he might they not being able to prove any thing against

be furnished with some material particulars him. Festus, however, being willing to pro

to send with him; it being highly absurd to cure the favour of the Jews at his entrance on

send a prisoner without signifying the crimes the government, asked Paul, whether he alledged against him. would go up and be tried before him at Jerusalem? But the apostle, well know

Festus baviog finished his speech, Agrippa ing the consequences of such a proposal, told Paul, he was now at liberty to make answered, as a Roman, I appeal unto Cæsar. his own defence: and silence being made,

be delivered himself in the following manThis method of appealing was common

ner, addressing his speech particularly to among the Romans, and introduced to defend Agrippa:

“ I consider it as a peculiar happiness, / shall deliver thee from the Jews and Genking Agrippa, that I am to make my defence tiles, to whom now I send thee to preach against the accusations of the Jews, before the gospel : to withdraw the veil of darkthee ; because thou art well acquainted with ness and ignorance ; to turn them from all their customs, and the questions com falsehood unto truth, “and from the power monly debated among them ; I therefore of Satan unto God.” beseech thee to hear me patiently. All the Jews are well acquainted with my man “ Accordingly, king Agrippa, I readily ner of life, from my youth, the greatest obeyed the heavenly vision : I preached part of it having been spent with my own the gospel first to the inhabitants of Dacountrymen at Jerusalem. They also know mascus, then to those of Jerusalem and that I was educated under the institutions Judea, and afterwards to the Gentiles ; of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of our persuading them to forsake their iniquireligion, and am now arraigned for a tenet ties, and, by sincere repentance, turn to believed by all their fathers; a tenet suffici the living God. ently credible in itself, and plainly revealed in the scriptures ; I mean the resurrection " These endeavours to save the souls of of the dead. Why should any mortal think sinful mortals exasperated the Jews, who it either incredible or impossible, that God caught me in the temple, and entered into a should raise the dead ?

conspiracy to destroy me. But by the help

of Omnipotence, I still remain a witness to “ I, indeed, formerly thought myself in all the human race, preaching notbing but dispensibly obliged to oppose the religion what Moses and all the prophets foretold, of Jesus of Nazareth. Nor was I satisfied namely, that the Messiah should suffer, be with imprisoning and punishing with death the first that should rise from the chambers itself, the saints I found at Jerusalem ; I of the grave, and publish the glad tidings of even persecuted them in strange cities, salvation, both to the Jews and Gentiles.” whither my implacable zeal pursued them, having procured authority for that purpose While the apostle thus pleaded for himfrom the chief priests and the elders. self, Festus cried out, " Paul, thou art

mad : too much study hath deprived thee Accordingly I departed for Damascus, of thy reason.But, Paul answered, “ I with a commission from the Sanhedrim : am far inost noble Festus, from being transbut as I was travelling towards that city, ported with idle and distracted ideas ; the I saw at mid-day, 0 king, a light from words I speak are dictated by truth and heaven, far exceeding the brightness of the sobriety ; and I am persuaded that the king sun, encompassing me and my companions. Agrippa himself is not ignorant of these On seeing this awful appearance, we all fell things ; for they were transacted openly to the earth, and I heard a voice, which before the world. I am confident, king said to me in the Hebrew language, “Saul, Agrippa, that thou believest the prophets; Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard and therefore must know that all their for thee to kick against the pricks.” To predictions were fulfilled in Christ.”. To which I answered, Who art thou Lord ? which, Agrippa answered, " Thou hast and he replied, I am Jesus whom thou per almost persuaded me

embrace the secutest. But be not terrified, arise from the Christian faith.' Paul replied, “I sinearth; for I have appeared unto thee, that cerely wish that not only thou, but also. thou mightest be both a witness of the things all that hear me, were not almost but althou hast seen and also of others, which I together the same as myself, except being will hereafter reveal unto thee. My power / prisoners.” No. 21.



[ocr errors]

· It being now finally determined that and refresh themselves, having fasted a Paul should be sent to Rome, he was, long time, assuring them, they should all with several other prisoners of conse escape. quence, committed to the care of Julius, commander of a company belonging to the The country near which they were, legion of Augustus ; and was accompani was, as St. Paul had foretold, an island ed in his voyage by St. Luke, Aristarchus, called. Melita, now Malta, situated in the Trophimus, and some others,..not mentioned Lybian Sea, between Syracuse and Africa. by the sacred historian.

Here they landed, and met with great

civility from the people, who treated them In the month of September, they em. with humanity, and entertained them i barked on board a ship of Adramytium, and with every necessary accommodation But sailed to Sidon, where the centurion courte whilst St. Paul was laying a few sticks on ously gave the apostle leave to go on shore the fire, a viper, enlivened by the beat, to visit bis friends and refresh himself. came from among the wood, and fastened

on his hand. On seeing this, the inhabiAfter a short stay, they sailed for Cy tants of the island concluded that he was prus, and arrived opposite the Fair-Ha- certainly some notorious murderer, whom vens, a place near Myra, a city of Lycia. the divine vengeance, though it suffered Here the season being far advanced, and him to escape the sea, had reserved for a Paul foreseeing it would be a dangerous more public and solemn execution. But voyage, persuaded him to put in and win when they saw him shake off the venomter there. But the Roman centurion pre ous creature into the fire, and no manferring the opinion of the master of the

the master of the ner of · harm ensue, they changed their ship, and the harbour being at the same sentiments, and cried out, that he was a tine incommodious, resolved, if possible, God. to reach Phænice, a port of Crete, and winter there. But they soon found them » After three months' stay in this island, selves disappointed ; for the fine souther the centurion, with his charge, went on ly gale, which had favoured them for some board the Castor and Pollux, a ship of time, suddenly changed into a stormy and Alexandria, bound to Italy. They put tempestuous wind at north-east, which in at: Syracuse, where they tarried three blew with such violence, that the ship was days ; they then sailed to Rhegium, and obliged to sail before it ; and to prevent from thence to Puteoli, where they landber sinking, they threw overboard the prin ed ; and finding some Christians there, eipal part of her lading.

staid, at their request, a week with them,

and then set forward on their journey to : In this desperate and uncomfortable Rome. The Christians of this city, hearcondition they continued fourteen days, ing of the apostle's coming, went to meet and on the fourteenth night the mariners him as far as the distance of about thirty discovered they were near some coast, miles from Rome, and others as far as the and, therefore, to avoid the rocks, thought A pii-forum, fifty one miles distant from proper to come to an anchor, till the morn the capital. They kindly embraced each ing might give them better information. other, and the liberty he saw the Christians

enjoy at Rome, greatly tended to enliven During the time they continued at an the spirits of the apostle. chor, waiting for the light of the morning, St. Paul prevailed upon them to eat

HAVING refreshed himself after the fa:


ly, and use him as a brother, promising with

al, that if he had wronged, or owed him any **The Transactions of St. Paul, from his thing, he himself would repay it." Arrival at Rome, till his Martyrdom.

This epistle may be considered as a

master-piece of eloquence, in the persuatigue of bis voyage, the apostle sent sive way; for in it the apostle had recourse for the heads of the Jewish consistory at to all the considerations, wbich friendship, Rome, and related to them the cause of his religion, piety, and tenderness can incoming in the following manner: “ Though spire, to reconcile an incensed master to I have been guilty of no violence of the laws of his servant. our religion, yet I was delivered by the Jews at Jerusalem to the Roman governors, who The Christians of Phillippi-hearing of St. more than once would have acquitted me, as Paul's being at Rome, and not knowing what innocent of any capital offence; but, by the distress he might be reduced to, raised a perverseness of my persecutors, I was obliged | contribution for him, and sent it by Epaphroto appeal' unto Cæsar; not that I had any ditus, their bishop, by whom he returned an thing to accuse my nation of: I had re epistle to them, wherein he gives some accourse to this method, merely to clear my count of the state of his affairs at, Rome; own innocence."

gratefully acknowledges their kindness to

him, warns them against the dangerous Having thus removed a popular prejudice, opinions which the Judaizing teachers began he added, “That the true cause of his to propagate among them, and advises, them sufferings was what their own religion had to live in continual obedience to Christ; taught him, the belief and expectation of a to avoid disputations, delight in prayer, future resurrection.But his discourse had be courageous under asiction, united in love, different effects on different hearers, some be and clothed with humility, in imitation of the ing convinced, and others persisting in their blessed Jesus, who so far humbled himself, as infidelity.

to become obedient unto death, even the death

of the cross. For two whole years Paul dwelt at Rome, in a house he had hired for his own use; St. Paul lived-about three years at Ephewherein he assiduously employed himself in ·sus, preaching the gospel to the numerous preaching and writing for the good of the inhabitants of that city, and was therefore church.

well acquainted with the state and condition

of the place: so that taking the opportunity Among others of the apostle's converts at of Tychicus's going thither, he wrote his Rome, was one Onesimus, who had, for- | epistle to the Ephesians, wherein he endeamerly been a servant to. Philemon, a person vours to countermine the principles and of distinction at Colosse, but bad run away practices both of the Jews and Gentiles; to from his master, and taken with him some confirm them in the belief and practice of the things of value.

Christian doctrine, and to instruct them ful

ly in the great mysteries of the gospel ;- their Having rambled as far as Rome, he was relemption and justification by ihe death of now converted by St. Paul, who advised him to return to his master, and gave him a short with the Jews in one body, of which Christ is recommendatory letter, " earnestly desiring the head, and the glorious exaltation of that his master to pardon him; and notwith head above all creatures, both spiritual and standing his former faults, to treat him kind. I temporal: together with many excellent

precepts, both as to the general duties of accompanied by Timothy, prosecuted his Geligion, and the duties of their particular long.intended journey into Spain: and acrelations.

cording to the testimony of several writers,

crossed the sea, and preached the gospel in St. Paul himself had never been at Colosse: | Britain. Epaphras, who was then at Rome, and preached the gospel there with good suc What success he had in these western cess; and from him be might learn that cer parts is not known; be, however, contitain false teachers had endeavoured to per- nued there eight or nine months, and

then suade the people, that they ought not to ap returned again to the east, visited Sicily, ply to God by Jesus Christ, who, since his Greece, and Crete, and then repaired to ascension, was so far exalted above them, Rome. that angels were now become the proper mediators between God and man; and there.

Here he met with Peter, and was, together fore in opposition to this, as well as other se with him, thrown into prison, doubtless in the ductions of the same nature, he wrote his general persecution raised against the Chriscpistle to the Colossians; wherein he mag tians, under pretence that they had set fire to nificently displays the Messiah, and all the the city. How long he remained in prison benefits flowing from him as being the image is uncertain; nor do we know whether he ,

was scourged before his execution. He the reconciler of all things to God, and the was, however, allowed the privilege of a Head of the church, which gives life and Roman citizen, and therefore beheaded. vigour to all its members.

Being come to the place of execution, By what means St. Paul was discharged which was the Aquæ Salviæ, three miles from the accusation the Jews brought against from Rome, he cheerfully, after a solemn pre . him, we have no account in history; but it is paration, gave his neck to the fatal stroke; natural to suppose, that not having sufficient and from this vale of misery passed to the bliss. proof of what they alledged, or being informed ful regions of immortality, to the kingdom that the crimes they accused him of were no of his beloved Master, the great Redeemer violation of the Roman laws, they durst not

of the human race. implead bim before the emperor, and so permitted him to be discharged of course. But by He was buried in the Via Ostiensis, about whatever means he procured his liberty, he two miles from Rome. And about the year wrote his epistle to the Hebrews before he 317, Constantine the Great, at the instance left Italy, from whence he dates his salu of pope Sylvester, built a stately church over tations.

his grave, adorned it with a hundred marble

columns, and beautified it with the most exThe principal design of it is to magnify quisite workmanship. Christ, and the religion of the gospel, above Moses and the Jewish economy, in St. Paul seems, indeed, to have been order to establish and confirm the converted eminently fitted for the apostleship of the Jews in the form belief and profession of Gentiles, to contend with and confute the Christianity, notwithstanding the trouble grave and the wise, the acute and the and persecution that would certa nly at subtle, the sage and the learned of the Heatend them.

then world, and to wound them with

arrows from their own quiver. He seldom, Having thus discharged his ministry, both indeed, made use of learning and philosoby preaching and writing in Italy, St. Paul, 'phy, it being more agreeable to the designs

« PreviousContinue »