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PAUL BEFORB AGRIPPA.
From Acts, Chap. xxv, xxvi.
AND on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing with the chief captains and principal men of the city, at Festus's commandment Paul was brought forth..
And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer.
But when I found that he had committed nothing. worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him..
Of whom I have no certain things to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and especially before thee, O king Agrippa, that after examination had, I might have something to write.
For it seemeth to me-unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself;
I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee, touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:
Especially, because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently,
My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among minę own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews,
Which knew me from the beginning (if they would testify) that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.
And now I stand, and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers :
Unto which promise our twelve tribes instantly serv. ing God day and night hope to come : for which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth,
Which thing I also did in Jerusalem : and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received au. thority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them.
And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities,
Whereupon as I went to Damascus, with authority and commission from the chief priests,
At mid-day, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me, and them which journeyed with me.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is kard for thee to kick against the pricks.
And I said, Who art thou, LORD? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.
But rise, and stand upon thy feet : for I have appeared anto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of atose things in the which I will appear to thee :
Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gen. tiles, unto whom now I send thee,
their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among
them which are sanctified, by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision :
But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for
repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me.
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, say. ing none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come :
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus ; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely : for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him : for this thing was not done in a corner.
King Agrippa, believest thou the Prophets ? I know that thou believest.
Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.
And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them,
And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds.
Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberry,'if he had not appealed unto Cæsar,
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
We may regard the oration of Paul before Agrippa, as a remarkable instance of our Lord's attention to the promise he made, that when his disciples were brought before governors and kings for his sake, he would teach them what they should speak. In it the seriousness of the Christian, the boldness of the Apostle, and the po. liteness of the gentleman and the scholar, are happily blended. There was no appearance of flattery in his congratulating himself on speaking before one skilled in the manners and records of the Jews, nor any arrogance in his insisting on the strictness of his former life; for he knew that this righteousness would not justify him in the sight of God. But he had no advocate to plead for him, and it was necessary for his vindication, that he should give this account of himself, and shew, that though he was hated by the Jews, he still retained the religion he was educated in, as far as it agreed with the promises made to the Patriarchs, on which he built his
He gave up
hopes of the resurrection of the dead; they were only the ceremonials of the law, and the traditional superstia tions that he rejected. Paul observed, that he was not singular in his opinion concerning the resurrection of the dead ; for the whole body of the Jewish church
! looked for a Messiah and a life to come : and it was no incredible thing that God, who had almighty power, and at first created all things, should raise the dead. Paul informed his judges, that he had not followed CHRIST from interested views * ; for it must evidently appear, that when he embraced Christianity, he gave up fortune he was in a fair way of advancing ; the repu-' tation he had acquired by the labours and study of his whole life, and by a blameless behaviour. his friends and relations, and banished himself from the society of those whom he had been accustomed to converse with, and that religion for which he had been remarkably zealous. He positively asserted, that he was made a convert by a particular call from heaven, and received a commission from Christ himself to preach to the Gentiles, at the very time he was going with a sanction from the High Priests to extirpate the Chrisa tiaus.
Having shewn by what means he became a Christian, Paul proceeded to inform his Judges, that since his conversion he had zealously taught the Christian doctrines, and borne witness with the rest of the Apostles to the fulfilment of the ancient prophecies; which he was qualified to do, not by the instruction of men, but by immediate revelation from God.
Agrippa began to feel the force of Paul's reasoning, but afraid to look into his own heart, he precipitately broke up the court; and Paul had only time to add the
* Lord Lyttelton.