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la, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ, &c.
We find here three considerations which claim attention,
I. An enlightened preacher, who discovers due discernment in the selection of his subjects.
II. A conscience appalled, and confounded on the recollection of its crimes, and of that awful judgment where they must be weighed.
III. We find, in fact, a sinner alarmed, but not converted ; a sinner who desires to be saved, but delays his conversion : a case, alas ! but of too common oc. currence.
You perceive already, my brethren, the subject of this discourse ; that St. Paul reasoned before Felix and Drusilla, of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come ; that Felix trembled ; and that he sent the apostle away : three considerations which shall divide this discourse. May it produce on your hearts, on the hearts of christians, the same effects St. Paul produced on the soul of this heathen ; but may it have a happier influence on your lives.... Amen.
I. Paul preached before Felix and Drusilla, on righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come. This is the first object of discussion. Before, however, we proceed further with our remarks, we must first sketch the character of this Felix, and this Drusilla, which will serve as a basis to the first proposi. tion.
After the sceptre was departed from Judah, and the Jewish nation subjugated by Pompey, the Ro. man emperors governed the country by procurators. Claudius filled the imperial throne while St. Paul was at Cesarea. This Emperor had received a ser
vile education from his 'grandmother Lucia, and from his mother Antonia; and, having been brought up in obsequious meanness, evinced, on his elevation to the empire, marks of the inadequate care which had been bestowed on his infancy. He had neither courage, nor dignity of mind. He who was raised to sway the Roman sceptre, and consequently to govern the civilized world, abandoned his judga ment to his freed men, and gave them a complete ascendancy over his mind. Felix was one of those freed, men. “He exercised," and these are the words of a Roman historian, (Tacitus,) “ He exereised in Judea, the imperial functions with a mercenary soul.”. We have a proof of his avarice immediately after our text, where it is said, he sent for Paul....not to hear him concerning the truth of the Gospel which this apostle preached with so much power ;.... nor to inquire whether this religion, against which the Jews had raised the standard, was contrary to the interest of the state ;....but because he hoped to have received money for his liberation. Here is the effect of his avarice.
Josephus recites an instance of his voluptuousness. It is his marriage with Drusilla. She was a Jewess, as is remarked in our text. King Azizus, her former husband, was a heathen ; and in order to gain her affections, he had conformed to the most rigorous ceremonies of Judaism. · Felix saw her, and became enamoured of her beauty. He conceived for her a violent passion ; and, in defiance of the sacred ties which united her to a husband, he resolved to be come master of her person. His addresses were received. Drusilla violated her former engagements, preferring to contract with Felix an illegitimate marriage, to an adherence to the chaste ties which united her to Azizus. . Felix the Roman, Felix the procu. rator of Judea, and the favourite of Cæsar, appeared to her a noble acquisition. It is indeed a truth, we may here observe, that grandeur and fortune are
charms which mortals find the greatest difficulty ta resist ; and against which the purest virtue has need to be armed with all its constancy. Recollect those. two characters of Felix, and Drusilla. St. Paul, before those two personages, treated concerning the faith in Christ ; that is, concerning the christian religion, of which Jesus Christ is the sum and substance, the author and the end : and from the nume. rous doctrines of christianity he selected righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come.
Here is, my brethren, an admirable text; but a text selected with discretion Fully to comprehend it, recollect the character we have given of Felix. He was covetous, luxurious, and governor of Judea. St. Paul selected three subjects, correspondent to these characteristics. Addressing an avaricious man, he treated of righteousness. Addressing the governor of Judea, one of those persons who think themselves independent, and responsible to none but themselves for their conduct, he treated of a judgment to come.
My brethren, when a man preaches for popularity, instead of seeking the glory of Christ, he seeks his Qwn; he selects subjects calculated to display his ta. lents, and flatter his audience. Does he preach before a professed infidel, he will expatiate on morality; and be ashamed to pronounce the venerable words....covenant....satisfaction. Does he address an antinomian audience, who would be offended were he to enforce the practical duties of religion ; he makes every thing to proceed from election, reprobation, and the irrisistibility of grace. Does he preach in the presence of a profligate court, he will enlarge on the liberty of the gospel, and the clemency of God. He has the art.... (a most detestable art, but too well understood in all ages of the church)....he has the art of uniting his interests and his ministry. A political preacher endeavours to accommodate luis preaching to his passions. Minister of Christ,
and minister of his own interests, to express myself with this apostle, he makes a gain of godliness : on this principle had Felix expressed a desire to understand the gospel, St. Paul had a favourable opportunity of paying his court in a delicate manner. The christian religion has a gracious aspect towards every class of men. He might have discussed some of those subjects which would have flattered the
goHe might have discoursed on the dignity of princes, and on the relation they have to the Supreme Being. He might have said, that the magistrate beareth not the sword in vain, Rom. xiii, 4.... That the Deity himself has said, Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most High, Psalm lxxxii. 6. But all this adulation, all this finesse, were unknown to our apostle. He sought the passions of Felix in their source; he forced the sinner in his last retreat. He boldly attacked the governor with the sword of the Spirit, and with the hammer of the word, Before the object of his passion, and the subject of his crime, before Drusilla, he treated of temperance. When Felix sent for him to satiate his avarice, he talked of righteousness. While the governor was in his highest period of splendor, he discoursed of a judgment to come.
Preachers of the court, confessors to princes, pests of the public, who are the chief promoters of the present persecution, and the cause of our calamities! O that I could animate you by the example of St. Paul : and make you blush for your degeneracy and turpitude! My brethren, you know a prince; and would to God we knew him less ! But let us re. spect the lustre of a diadem, let us venerate the Lord's anointed in the person of our enemy. Examine the discourses delivered in his presence; read the sermons pompously entitled, “Sermons preached before the King ;” and see those other publications dedicated to.... The perpetual conqueror, whose battles were so many victories....terrible in warco,
adorable in peace. You will there find nothing but flattery and applause. Whoever struck, in his presence, at ambition and luxury? Whoever ventured there to maintain the rights of the widow and the or. phan? Who, on the contrary, has not magnified the greatest crimesinto virtues;
and, by a species of idol. atry before unknown, made Jesus Christ himself subservient to the vanity of a mortal man?
Oh! but St. Paul would have preached in a different manner ! Before Felix, before Drusilla, he would have said that, fornicators shall not inherit the kingdom of God, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. In the midst of an idola atrous people, he would have painted in the liveliest colours, innocence oppressed, the faith of edicts violated, the Rhine overflowing with blood, the Palatinate still smoking, and buried in its own ashes. I check myself; we again repeat it: let us respect
the sacred grandeur of kings, and let us deplore their grandeur, which exposes them to the dangerous poison of adulation and flattery.
This suggests an important reflection; a reflection concerning the necessity which should induce sovereigns to have ecclesiastics about their persons who would address them with frankness, and prompt them to the recollection of their duty. Grandeur, power, and applause ; (we are obliged to make the observations in our pulpits, in places where decorum requires attention ; for we are of no consideration in the bustle of a splendid court ;) grandeur, power, and applause, are charms against which it is very difficult for the human mind to retain its superiority. Amid so many dangers, if a man have no guide but himself, no preacher · but his conscience : if, instead of attending to the sober dictates of truth, he is surrounded with flatterers, how can he resist so many attractions ? And, if he do not resist, how can he be saved ? For, in fact, the same laws are given to the high and the low; to the rich and the poor ; to the sovereign and the subject.