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train, came to Caesarea to make a visit and compliment to the new governor; who, up- From Acts i. on some occasion or other, took an opportunity to entertain them with Paul's case; * * * * telling them, “that Felix, upon his parting with the government, had left a certain prisoner, against whom some of the chief of the Jews had brought an information, and immediately demanded judgment, which, according to the Roman law t, could not be done without first hearing the cause, and bringing the parties face to face; and to this purpose he had ordered his accusers to come to Caesarea, but, upon the result, found that the dispute between them was about matters of their own superstition f, and whether a person (whom they call Jesus) was really dead or alive; that being himself unacquainted with such kind of controversies, he had referred the prisoner to the Jewish Sanhedrim, but that he, declining their judgment, had appealed to Caesar; and that therefore he kept him still in prison, until he could meet with a convenient opportunity to send him to Rome.” * This account excited the curiosity of Agrippa, who was very desirous to see and hear the prisoner; and accordingly the king and his sister, accompanied with Festus and other persons of quality, came into the court with a pompous and magnificent retinue; and when Paul was brought forth before them, Festus acquainted the king and the whole assembly, “how much he had been solicited by the Jews, both at Caesarea and Jerusalem, concerning the prisoner at the bar, that, as a notorious malefactor, he might be put to death; but that having found him guilty of no capital crime, and the prisoner himself having appealed to Caesar, he was determined to send him to Rome; that he was willing, however, to have his cause again discussed before so judicious a person as Agrippa, that he might be furnished with some material instructions to send along with him, since it seemed absurd to him to send a prisoner to the emperor without signifying his crimes.” When Festus had ended, and Agrippa had signified to St Paul, that he had liberty to answer for himself; after silence was made, he addressed himself chiefly to Agrippa, and thus began his speech. “I think myself happy, O king Agrippa, in that I am permitted to make my defence against the accusations charged upon me by the Jews, before a person so exactly versed in all the rites and customs; the questions and controversies of the Jewish law; for which reason I intreat your majesty to here me with patience. o
vain and groundless fear of the gods : For the “pious
with terror before him;” and, to the same purpose,
A. M. 4064, My manner of life from my youth, which was among the Jews at Jerusalem, they ... all know, and that I was brought up under the institution of the Pharisees *, a sect the
§..." strictest of all others in the Jewish religion. Accordingly, now I am accused for as=serting the resurrection | of the dead, which is not only a doctrine acknowledged by the Pharisees, but a fundamental promise made by God of old, which the generality of the Jews |* depend upon, and in hopes of which they spend their time in constant piety and obedience to God: And yet for believing and expecting this, O king, I am accused and persecuted by the Jews: But why should it be thought an incredible thing, that God, who is omnipotent, should raise the dead? I confess indeed, that once I was of opinion, that I was bound in conscience to persecute this profession and doctrine of Christ; and, accordingly, having obtained a commission from the high priest, many holy men and women in Jerusalem I not only hurried to prison, but, when any of them were put to death, was myself not a little assenting and assisting in it. Nay, in other places too, I brought them before courts of judicature; by several methods of severity, forced them to deny Christ; and was so much enraged against them, that I compelled them to flee to heathen cities, and even thither pursued them. To this purpose, having received authority from the Sanhedrim to go to Damascus, at noon-From Acts . day, O king, I saw a light from heaven, far exceeding that of the sun, which struck me," " " ". that they were forced to let the ship drive; but to secure it from splitting, they under-From Acts. i. girt it; and to prevent its running a-ground on the shallows, threw out a great part of" "" " its lading and tackle. For fourteen days the company continued in this condition, without ever seeing either sun or stars, and began all now to give up their lives for lost; when St Paul, having a little blamed them for net taking his advice, desired them however to be of good courage, because he had assurance from heaven, that, whatever became of the ship, they should escape to an island, and not one of their lives be lost. On the fourteenth night, as the sailors were throwing the lead, and sounding, they found themselves nigh some coast; and, apprehending they might strike upon some shelves in the dark, thought proper to come to an anchor till the morning might give them better information: But, not staying for that, they were attempting to save themselves by getting into the boat, when St Paul, perceiving it, told the centurion, that unless they all stayed in the ship none could be safe; whereupon the soldiers cut the ropes and let the boat drive. A little before day-break St Paul persuaded them to take some nourishment, because in all that time of danger, which had been | for fourteen days, they had eaten in a manner nothing; and to encourage them to do this, he assured them again, that “not a hair of their heads should perish.” In the morning they discovered land, and discerning a creek, which seemed to make a kind of haven, they resolved, if possible, to put in there; but in their passage, unexpectedly fell into a place where two seas met, and where the forepart of the ship, striking upon a neck of land that ran out into the sea, the hinderpart was soon beaten in pieces by the violence of the waves. When the soldiers saw this, they proposed putting all the prisoners to the sword, lest any of them should swim to land, and make their escape; but the centurion, who was willing to save Paul, by no means allowing of that, gave orders that every one should shift for himself; and the issue was, that, some by swimming, others on planks, and others on pieces of the broken ship (to the number of two hundred and seventy-six persons), they all
* That of the three sects which were then of greatest credit in Judea, the Pharisees were the most strict, and held in the greatest veneration, we have the testimony of Josephus, who, in more places than one, informs us, “ that this sect was thought to be more pious than others, and more exact in their knowledge of the customs of their fathers and in the interpretation of their laws.” For, as for the other two famous sects, the Sadducees, by denying the resurrection and all future punishments, took away the rewards of a virtuous, and gave licence to a vicious life; and the Essenes, by being Jews, and yet, separating themselves entirely from the worship of the temple, were guilty of a great schism, and by making their prayers and religious addresses to the sun, (as Josephus, who lived three years among them, testifies) were chargeable with idolatry. De Bello Jud. lib. ii. c. 7. Whitby's Annotations.
| But why should St Paul say that he was accused for asserting the general resurrection, when it was only the resurrection of Christ that he was called in question for Now in answer to this it must be observed, that before our Saviour's passion the doctrine which he preached was chiefly levelled against the vain traditions of the scribes and Pharisees, but that, after his resurrection, the testimony of the apostles being this, “ that Christ was risen from the dead,” which was directly contrary to the notion of the Sadducees, these people became their hottest enemies, “being grieved (as the text expresses it) that they preached the resurrection of the dead through Jesus,” Acts iv. 1, 2. as easily perceiving that the proof of the one, viz. “ that Christ was risen,” was a confirmation of the general resurrection. As therefore the resurrection of Christ was a pledge and assurance of a general resurrection, it was impossible for the apostles to attest the one without asserting the other, since, in the truth of the thing, and according to the sentiments of the Jews themselves, the resurrection was to be effected by the Messiah; for which reason we find St Paul styling our Lord “ the first-fruits of them that slept,” and declaring
farther, that “ as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” I Cor. xv.20. 22. Whitby's Annotations. |*That the Jews had grounds sufficient, in the writings of the Old Testament, to expect a future resurrection, is evident from our Saviour's application of God's own words, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” Exod. iii.6. “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living,” Matth. xxii. 32. Wherever God is styled the God of any one, it always signifies that he either is or will be the benefactor of that person; and in naming Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he must mean it of their complete persons, which consisted of bodies as well as souls; and from hence it will follow, that as the troubles and afflictions which these three patriarchs underwent in their lifetime, did not answer those favours and kindnesses which are included in the phrase of his being the God of any one, God was still engaged to make them happy after this life, and completely happy in their whole persons, i.e. both in body and soul, which could only be effected by their resurrection. This is the deduction which our Saviour makes; but when we read in the prophets, “that the earth shall cast out the dead, and those that dwell in the dust shall arise,” Isa. xxvi. 19. and more expressly still, “that many of them who sleep in the dust shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting confusion,” Dan. xii. 2. we need less wonder that we find the martyrs in the Jewish church not doubting, “but that the Creator of the world would give them breath and life again, and would raise those up, who died for his laws, unto everlasting life,” 2 Mac. vii. 9. 23. Good reason therefore had the apostle to represent this as the hope of their tribes; for though the Sadducees denied it, yet (as Josephus informs us) they were but an handful of men in comparison, and whenever they came to bear offices, they were forced to profess the doctrine of the Pharisees, otherwise the common people would not have endured them. Antig, lib. xviii. c. 2. Whitby's Annotations.
and those that accompanied me to the ground; and heard a voice in the Hebrew tongue, calling me by name, and admonishing me to forbear my cruel and persecuting temper, because, from that time, I was chosen to be a preacher and promoter of that doctrine which I was then labouring to destroy, and particularly commissioned to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, in order to convert them from their idolatrous worship to the service of the true God. In obedience therefore to this heavenly vision, I have ever since been very diligent in preaching the doctrines of repentance and reformation, not in Judea only, but in other nations, and not to the Jews only, but likewise to the Gentiles. This, O king, is my great crime; and for this it was that the Jews apprehended me in the temple with a design to have murdered me; but being supported by a Divine power, I continue in my duty to this day, asserting nothing but what is agreeable to Moses and the prophets, who have plainly foretold, that the Messiah should be put to death, and rise again, and by his doctrine enlighten both Jews and Gentiles.” While he was thus discoursing, Festus, who happened to be no great master of the argument, was ready to think, that his talking in this abstruse manner must be the effect of some deliriousness, and therefore told him abruptly, that his too much learning * had made him mad. But to this he calmly replied; “I am in my perfect senses, most noble Festus, and what I say, without excess or transport, is literally true. For this I appeal to Agrippa, before whom I take this freedom of speech, and am confident that he knows it to be true. The life, death, and resurrection of Christ were things of public note, and cannot be a secret to him who was a Jew born. Believest thou the prophets, O king 2 I am satisfied thou dost, and therefore cannot but know that their predictions are fulfilled in Christ.” This moving and persuasive eloquence so wrought upon Agrippa, that he could not forbear declaring, that the apostle had almost persuaded him to be a Christian **: To which he readily replyed, “that he heartily wished, that not only he, but the whole company then present, were not only almost, but altogether +, (though not prisoners) as much Christians as himself was.” Upon this the assembly broke up; and when Agrippa and Festus had conferred together about Paul's case, they freely owned, that the accusation laid against him amounted neither to a capital of fence ||, nor any thing deserving imprisonment, but that had he not appealed unto Caesar he might have been legally discharged.
* Festus must have known, from some other hand, that Paul was a learned man; because, in this speech of his, he gives us no indication of his proficiency either in the Greek or Roman literature; though he might think, from the terms which he heard him make use of, that the subject of his discourse must be vastly mysterious; for to hear him speak of the “resurrec. tion of the dead, of a vision and voice from heaven, of faith in Christ, of conversion from darkness to light, of deliverance from the power of Satan, of an inheritance among them that are sanctified, and of Christ’s shewing light unto the people, and to the Gentiles,” which were so many enigmas to the governor, was enough to make him think that there possibly might be some disorder in the apostle's brain that made him talk in so unintelligible a manner. Calmet's Commentary.
** This seems to imply, that, since the time that they took it upon themselves at Antioch, the name of Christians was become their common appellation. Beausobre's Annotations.
... t when Felix understood that St Paul was a citi.
zen of Rome, the text tells us, that “he commanded
A. M. loss. His journey to Rome therefore being thus finally determined, he and Some other *... . prisoners of note were committed to the charge of one Julius a centurion, or captain ** of the legion called Augusta, having Luke the evangelist, Aristarchus, Trophimus, and =some others, to accompany him in his voyage. 4. About the latter end of September they went on board a ship of Adramyttium f, and coasting along Asia arrived at Sidan; where Julius, who all along treated Paul with great civility, gave him leave to go ashore and refresh himself. From Sidon they set sail, and came in sight of Cyprus, and having passed over the seas of Cilicia, and Pamphylia, landed at Myra to, a port in Lycia, where the ship finished its voyage. At Myra, Julius and the prisoners that were under his care went on board a ship of Alexandria, bound for Italy; and having passed by Cnidus *, with much ado they made for Salmone, a promontory on the eastern shore of Crete, from whence, by many days slow sailing, they arrived at a place called the Fair Havens on the coast of the same island. Here St Paul advised the centurion to put in and winter, because the season of the year was far advanced, and sailing ** in those seas especially was now become dangerous; but he preferring the judgment of the master of the ship, and the wind at this instant blowing gently at south, they put again to sea, in hopes of reaching Phoenice, another harbour of Crete, where there was safe riding, and there to winter. It was not long, however, before they found themselves disappointed; for the calm southerly gale which blew before, suddenly changed into a stormy and f* tempestuous north-east wind, which bore down all before it, so
Agrippa was before this rage of his broke out, and
on the north, by Phrygia; and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea: Its Metropolis was Myra, which when it was Christian, was an Archbishop's See; but at present there is nothing remarkable in the whole province, except that Taurus, the chief and famous mountain of all the Asiatic continent, takes its rise here. Wells's Geography of the New Testament.
* This is a city which stands on a promontory, or foreland of the same name, in that part of the province of Caria, which was more peculiarly called Doris, remarkable among the ancients for the worship of Venus, (thence called by Horace, Regina Cnidi) and for the celebrated statue of that goddess, which was made by the great artificer Praxiteles. Wells's Geography of the New Testament, and Whit. by's Alphabetical Table.
* It is a common observation of mariners, that for some weeks before and after Michaelmas, there are at sea sudden and frequent storms, commonly called Michaelmas flaws, which at that time of the year make sailing (especially in the Mediterranean) dangerous. Nor is this any new observation, but as old as Hesiod himself, who tells us, that at the going down of Pleiades, which was at the end of autumn, navigation was hazardous.
got safe to shore.
abruptum e nube gelida, convolvens versansque, et
drowning. But as we read nothing of this critical day,