« AnteriorContinuar »
ran together and took Paul, and drew him out of the temple and closed the doors, being resolved, it would seem, to put him to death. At this critical moment, when they were actually engaged in beating him, Claudius Lysias, the commander of the Roman garrison, interposed with a band of soldiers, and rescued Paul, demanding to know who he was and what he had done. Finding it impossible, however, from the contrariety of their reports, to arrive at any certainty in the affair, he ordered the soldiers to take him into the castle, whither he was pursued by the multitude, crying out, “ away with him."
Having reached the top of the stairs, Paul asked leave of the chief captain to address them ; which being granted, he beckoned to them with his hand, and when he had obtained silence, accosted them in the Hebrew tongue, recapitulating the most material circumstances of his history, particularly his conversion to the Christian faith; ; appealing to the high priest and elders for the truth of what he said ; and closing the narrative with stating the commission he had received from Jesus Christ, to go and preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The very mention of this was enough for these Jews. Hitherto they had listened to him patiently, but no sooner had he spoken of his commission to the Gentiles, than they became outrageous, exclaiming, “Away with such a fellow from the earth; it is not fit that he should live ,”* on saying which, they rent off their clothes and threw dust into the air.
Lysias, in all probability, understood nothing of what Paul had spoken in Hebrew ; but seeing the effects which his speech had produced upon the Jews, and that they were driven to frenzy by it, he concluded that certainly he must be some notorious malefactor, and, therefore, commanding him to be brought into the castle, he was preparing to have recourse to the Roman custom of ex, sect. v.] Paul before the Jewish Sanhedrim.
* Acts xxii, 1-22.
torting a confession from his own lips, by means of torture,—one method of which was by binding the person to a pillar and severely scourging him.*
When the soldiers had stripped Paul, and were extending his arms to the utmost stretch, that they might bind him with thongs to the pillar, he enquired from the centurion, whether it were lawful for him to scourge a freeman of Rome, before he was convicted of any crime? The officer, upon receiving a hint that the apostle was a Roman citizen, desisted from his purpose, and apprised the chief captain of the fact, who interrogating Paul, and finding that he was free born, began to regret what he had done, and liberated him from his bonds.
On the following day the apostle was brought before the Jewish Sanhedrim, with the view of having his conduet investigated before that great national council. When placed in the midst, he surveyed the assembly with earnestness and composure, and was proceeding to renew his vindication before them, but the first sentence he uttered provoked the high priest, who commanded the bystanders to smite him on the mouth. Paul complained: of this as an unjust procedure on the part of his judges : probably he was not aware whence the order to smite him originated ; at any rate, he was not apprised that it camo from the high priest, whose office was then become quite a marketable commodity, and, in which the Romans were of course making frequent changes. The apostle, however, recalled his words, and apologized for them ; but eontinuing to look round upon the council, and perceiving that one part of them were Pharisees and the other Sadducees, he made an appeal to the former, that he had been one of their sect, and that he was now called to answer for the hope which he had of a resurrection from the dead,
See Suetonius' Life of Augustus, ch. 19. Tacit. Annals, b. 15. ch. 56, 57. Joseph. Antiq. b. 16. ch. 10. § 2-5.
-a doctrine wholly denied by the latter. A contention immediately arose between the two parties, and the Sanhedrim became divided. In this state of confusion, the chief captain, fearing Paul might be sacrificed between them, ordered a company of soldiers to go down and take him by force and bring him into the castle.
In the ensuing night the Lord Jesus appeared to his servant in vision, encouraging him to “be of good cheer,” and telling him, that as he had borne witness of him in Jerusalem, he must now also do the same at Rome. A conspiracy was formed among forty of the Jews, the next morning to put him to death ; " they bound themselves by a curse,” that they would neither eat nor drink till that object was accomplished. The stratagem, however, failed; the plot was defeated. Paul's sister's son got intimation of it, and conveyed it to his uncle, who called one of the centurions of the garrison, desiring him to introduce the young man to Lysias, the tribune, he having something to communicate to him. Paul's nephew developed the whole plot to Lysias, who enjoining upon him the utmost secrecy, immediately gave orders for an escort of two hundred soldiers, with the same number of spearmen, and seventy horsemen, to be got ready against nine o'clock at night, and to provide a horse also for Paul to ride upon to Cæsarea, to which place he was accordingly conveyed in safety, with a letter from Lysias to the Roman governor there, explaining the reasons of the whole'. procedure.
Felix was at this time governor of Cæsarea; and Lysias, having now transferred the whole affair between Paul and his adversaries to his jurisdiction, he ordered the high priest and some others of the Sanhedrim to appear before him in five days; which they did, accompanied by Tertullus, an advocate or Roman orator, who was to lay Paul's crimes before the governor. When the day arriv.
Pauls defence before Felir.
89 ed, the apostle was brought into court, and the orator, in a pompous speech, interspersed with flattering compliments to Felix, accused him vehemently of being a pestilent fellow, an exciter of sedițions among the Jews everywhere, a ring-leader of the sect of the Nazareens, who had profaned their holy temple, and that they would have judged him according to the Jewish law, had they not been prevented by the conduct of Lysias, who took him out of their hands; to the truth of all which the Jews gave their assent.
By the Roman law both parties were to be heard, before sentence was passed. When, therefore, the governer had beckoned with his hand for Paul to speak, he addressed them in a firm and undaunted manner, denying the accusation which they had thought proper to prefer against him of being an exciter of tumult and sedition, and boldly challenging his enemies to the proof. He admitted, indeed, that after the way that they called “heresy,” so worshipped he the God of his fathers, believing all things that were written in the law and in the prophets, and this he did in the confident expectation, that there would be a resurrection from the dead, both of the just and unjust. Felix, who was no doubt tolerably well acquainted with the affairs of the Christians, and the temper of the Jews towards them, put off the decision of the case for the present, promising that when Lysias came down to Cæsarea, he would institute a more strict inquiry into the subject, and in the mean time, Paul was remanded to the care of a centurion, who was instructed to allow him all the liberty that was consistent with his being a prisoner, and to prohibit none of his Christian brethren from having free access to him.
Felix was at this time living in an adulterous intercourse with Drusilla, a Jewess. One day during the apostle's confinement at Cæsarea, they sent for Paul, wishing to VOL. I.
hear him concerning the faith in Christ. The apostle wisely adapted his reasoning to the characters of his audience; he stated the obligation under which all mankind are to obey the law of God; the guilt and wrath incurred by a breach of it; and the final account to be given in the great day of retribution. Nothing could be morë strikingly calculated to arouse the consciences of Felix and Drusilla. Tacitus, speaking of the former, says, he exercised the authority committed to him, with all manner of cruelty and lewdness; and as for Drusilla, with whom he cohabited, she was the lawful wife of Azizus, king of the Emesenians. How pertinent, therefore, were the topics of Paul's reasoning, viz.righteousness, temperance, and a future judgment! The portrait which the apostle drew of an iniquitous and licentious governor, so exactly corresponded to the original before him, that Felix could not help shudderimg at the representation of his own moral deformity; while conscience, that faithful monitor within, made the application, and told him that the mirror in which Paul shewed him the features of an abandoned heart, did him no injustice.“ Felix trembled, and said, Go thy way for this time; when I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.” He did indeed again send for him, and communed often with him, but it was under the expectation of having his avarice gratified, by obtaining from the prisoner a sum of money to purchase his release. No attempt, however, being made to gratify the governor in that way, he detained him during the remaining years of his government, and even when he was compelled to leave the province, he declined releasing him, from a wish to please the Jews, who earnestly desired to have Paul put to death.
Felix was succeeded in the government by Porcius Festus, who went up to Jerusalem three days after his landing at Cæsarea. And now the Jews interceeded with him,