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And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,
APRIL 25, AUGUST 24, Dec. 22.
Conversion of St. Paul, morning, to ver, 22. St. Paul defends himself against the false charges made in the former chapter. 'Men, brethren, and fathers,
fathers," are meant the hear ye my defence which I scribes and elders. make now unto you. (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,) I am verily a man 3 These circumstances were calwhich am a Jew, born in Tar- culated to arrest their attention, and sus, a city in Cilicia, yet
even win their favour. brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous towards God, as ye all are this day. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders : from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. ? And I fell unto the ground,
7 Ministers of the Gospel when and heard a voice saying un- persecuted, encourage themselves to to me, Saul, Saul, why per- patience by considering that they secutest thou me? And I suffer in their Master's cause. Their answered, Who art thou, enemies persecute not man onlyLord ? And he said unto
but God I (See Acts ix. 4.) me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid ; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. And I said, What shall I do, Lord ? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus ; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are ap- 11 St. Paul recognized in that light pointed for thee to do. "And the glorious Shechinah-the invisible when I could not see for the token of a present God.
glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. “And he said,
14 He “ saw and heard"-for be The God of our fathers hath
saw the cloud, indicating the pre chosen thee, that thou should- sence of Jehovah, and he heard the est know his will, and see
voice of the Lord. that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why 16 As water washeth away impuritarriest thou ? arise, and be ties from the body, so faith in the baptized, and wash away thy blood of Christ cleanseth the soul sins, calling on the name of (1 John i. 8.) the Lord. And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance ; and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem : for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on thee: 20 and when the
20 What an honest arowal of pass blood of thy martyr Stephen sin, happily repented of! Let us was shed, I also was standing not attempt to keep back any sin by, and consenting unto his from a heart-searching God! death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
Ver. 22. And they gave him audience unto this word, and then lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth : for it is not fit that he should live. And as they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air, the chief captain commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging: that he might know wherefore they cried so against him.
And as they bound him 25 Thus St. Paul never tempts with thongs, Paul said unto Divine providence, by courting dan the centurion that stood by, ger, or neglecting such means of Is it lawful for you to scourge
safety as may be at hand. à man that is a Roman, and uncondemned ? When the centurion heard that, he went and told the chief captain, saying, Take heed what thou doest : for this man is a Roman. Then the chief captain came, and said unto him, Tell me, art thou
a Roman? He said, Yea. 28 Born at Tarsus, in Cilicia ; but 28 And the chief captain an- having the privilege of a Roman swered, With a great sum
citizen. His plea was allowed *. obtained I this freedom. And Paul said, But I was free born. Then straightway they departed from him which should have examined him : and the chief captain also was afraid, after he knew that he was a Roman, and because he had bound him. On the morrow, because he would have known the certainty wherefore he was accused of the Jews, he loosed him from his bands, and commanded the chief priests and all their council to appear, and brought Paul down, and set him before them.
CHAPTER XXIII. APRIL 26, AUGUST 25, Dec. 23. GUNPOWDER TREASON. "And Paul, earnestly behold- 1 Yet St. Paul was saved only by ing the council, said, Men faith +. and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. ? And the 2 In eastern countries, this mode of high priest Ananias com- malicious contempt is still adopted. manded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. * Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou treatment breaks forth in reproof;
3 Natural indignation at unjust whited wall : for sittest thou but a return of christian patience to judge me after the law, laments the harshness of expression and commandest me to be towards one, who, however unworthy
of the honour, exercised the office of smitten contrary to the law ?
God's High Priest I. And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not,
The Romans, acting upon a principle, as laudable as it was politic, carefully preserved to their provinces whatever privileges had once been granted to them, and were particularly tenacious that none presumed to gainsay the privileges of Roman citizenship ; by whomsoever, Jew or Gentile, the privilege might be claimed. (See also ch. xviiii. 15.)
+ We must not plead even a conscientious discharge of moral and social duties, as a ground for rejecting as unnecessary the faith of Christ crucified. The plea is vain. Even "the just shall live by faith.” (Hab. ii. 4.)
Thou " whited wall !"-outwardly clothed with the pure robe of justice, but inwardly a mere hypocrite ; offending too against the positive law of God, whose High Priest he was. (Ex. xxii. 28.) The Apostle felt most deeply the indignity, because it had been offered to him by one of his own nation. The Romans would have scorned an action so mean.
St. Paul's words proved prophetic. Ananias, about five years after this event, fleeing from a popular tumult, was overtaken and slain.
brethren, that he was the high priest : for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the
6 Prudence very skilfully turns the ruler of thy people. But
• But occasion into a means of escape. when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees : and the multitude was divided. For
8 The cold and cheerless unbeliei the Sadducees say that there of the Sadducee, and the rain selfis no resurrection, neither righteousness of the Pharisee, are angel, nor spirit: but the alike a warning to ourselves-faith Pharisees confess both. And
in the righteousness of Christ, our
only trust. there arose a great cry: and the scribes that were of the Pharisees' part arose, and strore, saying, We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God. And when there arose a great dissension, the chief captain, fearing lest Paul should have been pulled in pieces of them, commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle. And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul : for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. And they were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. Now therefore ye with the council signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him: and we, or ever he come near, 16 This is a striking instance of the are ready to kill him. And minute superintending providence of when Paul's sister's son heard
God. of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul. Then Paul called one of the centurions unto him, and said, Bring this young man unto the chief captain : for he hath a certain thing to tell him. So he took him, and brought him to the chief captain, and said, Paul the prisoner called me unto him, and prayed me to bring this young man unto thee, who hath something to say unto thee. Then the
chief captain took him by the hand, and went with him aside privately, and asked him, What is that thou hast to tell me ? And he said, The Jews have agreed to desire thee that thou wouldest bring down Paul to morrow into the council, as though they would enquire somewhat of him more perfectly. But do not thou yield unto them: for there lie in wait for him of them more than forty men, which have bound themselves with an oath, that they will neither eat nor drink till they have killed him : and now are they ready, looking for a promise from thee. So the chief captain then let the young man depart, and charged him, See thou tell no man that thou hast shewed these things to me. 23 And he called unto him two
23 It was by this care for the pro
vinces, that Rome increased her incenturions, saying, Make fluence. The conquered thus felt adready two hundred soldiers ditional security under the governto go to Cæsarea, and horse
ment of their conquerors. (See ch.
xxii. xxv. and xviii. xv.) men threescore and ten, and spearmen two hundred, at the third hour of the night; and provide them beasts, that they may set Paul on, and bring him safe unto Felix the governor. And he wrote a letter after this manner: Claudius Lysias unto the most excellent governor Felix sendeth greeting. This man was taken of the Jews, and should have been killed of them : then came I with an army, and rescued him, having understood that he was a Roman. And when I would have known the cause wherefore they accused him, I brought him forth into their council : whom I perceived to be accused of questions of their law, but to have nothing laid to his charge worthy of death or of bonds. And when it was told me how that the Jews laid wait for the man, I sent straightway to thee, and gave commandment to his accusers also to say before thee what they had against him. Farewell. Then the soldiers, as it was commanded them, took Paul, and brought him by night to Antipatris. On the morrow they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the castle: who, when they came to Cæsarea, and delivered the epistle to the governor, presented Paul also before him. And when the governor had read the letter, he asked of what province he was. And when he understood that he was of Cilicia; 35 I will hear thee, said he,
35 This delay was in conformity when thine accusers are also with the strict sense of justice come. And he commanded which pervaded the Roman execuhim to be kept in Herod's tive ; giving time for due inquiry. judgment hall.