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ing of the earth. They were haled to prisons -dragged before tribunals-calumniated — insulted—reviled—scourged; and all this without cause. Sad, however, as their fate was, it answered many valuable purposes. Their faith was tried in the furnace, and came out of it pure and bright. The divine support which they experienced, thus also became evident to all. Having been taught by their Master to depend solely on Jehovah at all times, they looked to him, and he came to their aid. Prison doors, without human agency, were opened for them, and they let loose from confinement. They rejoiced in tribulation; in being counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake. They also bore a noble testimony before princes, and in the halls of judgment, for the truth as it is in Jesus. Though they took no thought what they should say, it was given unto them by the Spirit of their Master, as occasion required. Thus indited, their addresses and exhortations came home with great power to the hearts of those who heard them.
Of this, you have a striking specimen in the text. Paul had already appeared before,
Felix to answer to the charges brought against him by Tertullus, the sycophantic orator of the Jews. He then maintained his innocence, testifying that he had exercised himself to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and man. His defence was so satisfactory as to influence Felix to grant him the privilege of seeing his friends unmolested. Thus he triumphed over his implacable and powerful foes.
But a nobler triumph awaited him ; a triumph of his matchless eloquence over the ungovernable passions of Felix. “ After certain
days, when Felix came with his wife Dru
silla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, 6 and heard him concerning the faith in “ Christ. And as he reasoned of righteous
ness, temperance, and judgment to come, “ Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way
for this time; when I have a convencient season I will call for thee.” What a spectacle was this! A poor Jew in chains, a follower of the despised Nazarene, under criminal charges before the tribunal of the Roman governor, by his eloquence makes this governor, who was his judge, to tremble!
From this interesting portion of holy Writ, I purpose to illustrate for our improvement, on this interesting occasion", the following particulars :
I. The kind of preaching which is most successful in reaching the heart.
II. The connexion, through divine appointment, existing between this kind of preaching, and the alarms of natural conscience.
III. The reasons why awakened persons do not immediately comply with the dictates of their awakened consciences, but delay their repentance to a more convenient time.
After which, the value of a faithful ministry will be shown, and the absolute necessity of immediate attention to the gospel preached by such a ministry, enforced.
1. To preach the gospel, is the duty of all the ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their commission is so plain, that he who runs may read and understand its import. Whilst it is granted by all, that the
gospel must be preached, there exists a great
a The installation of the Rev. Dr. Richards to the pastoral ofice, in the first Presbyterian Church in Newark.
diversity of opinion about its nature. Some suppose that it is merely a code of moral duty; others, that it is a mitigated law, requiring sincere, instead of perfect obedience as the condition of salvation. Some think that the gospel consists entirely of doctrines, to the exclusion of duties. Others restrict it to the peculiar opinions of their own denomination.
Without mentioning any other mistaken ideas of the gospel, I feel no hesitation in saying, that it is not in the exclusive possession of any denomination of Christians, inasmuch as its essential features are found among many of them. It embraces duties as well as doctrines, the former flowing from the latter. It maintains and secures the purest morals, but lays the foundation of them in the
“ The gospel is the revelation which “ God has given to men of the plan of sal“ vation by a Redeemer.” This revelation is emphatically,“ glad tidings" to our fallen race, and demands our attention and obedience. In preaching the gospel, then, the Redeemer, Christ Jesus the Lord, must be preached, including all the great and impor
tant truths flowing from and connected with his atonement.
Every truth necessarily leads to practice. No doctrine should be explained without pointing out its use, for our walk and conversation. Faith and good works are inseparable. Hence, when faith in Christ is explained, the duties which we owe to our fellow-men and ourselves, as well as those unto God, are also to be explained ; the last as grounded on the first, the first as leading to the last. How far the one or the other is to be explained and enforced, depends upon the leadings of providence, and the dictates of an enlightened conscience. In the gospel we have many examples for our instruction, but none so striking as my text. It affords us information full and correct, on this subject, interesting both to pastors and people. For the better understanding of the example of Paul in this instance, let us consider his situation and his manner.
1. His situation was trying, both to his courage and faithfulness.
He was in bonds, a prisoner under heavy accusations from his countrymen. His judge was a Heathen, licentious in his principles