Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

“ It is but a few days since I came up to Jerusalem; and they neither found me disputing in the Temple, nor raising up the People, nor in the Syna. gogues nor in the City; nor can they prove the things whereof they accuse me; but this I confess, that after the way which they call Heresy I worship the God of my Fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and the Prophets; I have hope towards God, (which they themselves allow) that there shall be a Resurrection of the Dead. And in this blessed hope I exercise myself daily, to keep a conscience void of offence towards God and towards Men. Nor have I offended in matters of their Law, but have complied in things indifferent, rather than scandalize weak Brethren.

" Be it known unto thee, O Felix! that I was once a most rigid zealot for that Law. I was brought up in the strictest sect of the Pharisees, and was verily persuaded that I ought to do many Things contrary to the Name of Jesus; and many things, with unhallowed Zeal I did against his blessed Name; shutting up his Saints in Prison, giving my Voice for their Death ; punishing them in every City; compelling them to Blaspheme, and being exceedingly mad against them, I even persecuted them to strange Cities.

“ But while I was in the wild Career of these bloody Purposes, in my way to Damascus, at mid day, O Felix!-a Divine Light from Heaven, eclipsing the Brightness of the Sun, struck me blind to the ground. And that glorified Jesus, whom I had persecuted in his Saints, to whose Death I had been consenting, was pleased, of his astonishing Goodness, to make himSY self known to me ; to convince me of his Resurrection, and to call me to be a Witness thereof among the Nations; to furnish me with ineffable Powers and Succours; and to set before me the Truth of his Holy Religion, in all its Spirituality and Saving Efficacy.

“ From that moment, O Felix! far other notions of Holiness and Religion than I had been taught before, filled my Breast. Those things that appeared gain to me formerly, I now accounted but Loss and Dung, so that I might win Christ. I was now persuaded that all those Rites and outward Ceremonies, all those Ablutions, Purifications and Sacrifices, for which I had expended my Zeal, were unsubstantial and vain under that better Covenant which he had made; and that, in Christ Jesus, neither Circumcision nor Uncircumcision availeth any thing, but a New Creature;--a Heart wholly devoted to him, and a Life of Righteousness and Temperance agreeably to the sub. lime Doctrines of his Gospel.

“ Thus I preached, and thus I laboured, that I might put off the filthy rags of my own outward legal Righteousness, and be found in him, in that better way which he hath appointed. And now, my whole hope is in him; and good foundation for hope surely. For since he hath shewn with Power, that he hath overcome Death, and risen from the Grave, he hath given us the assurance of rising also, and the prospect of eternal Communion with Him. But the terms of this Communion are, that we may become like to Him; Holy as he was Holy, Temperate as he was Temperate, Pure as he was Pure; Righteous, Merciful, Long-Suffering, Compassionate, full of Brotherly Love and Kindness even as he bath set an example.

“ God forbid, then, that I should forego this hope of Glory; that I should return to a vain dependence on carnal Ordinances and outward Shadows; when God, by this Divine Saviour, whose Resurrection I am called to witness, hath given assurance to all men that he hath appointed a clay in which he will judge the world in Righteousness-a Day, most noble Felix! in which that poor despised Galilean, he that bore his own Cross, and bowed his eternal Head to Death, shall come again with Death slain before him, and the very Heaven and Earth melting at his approach, amidst Thousands and Ten Thousands of his Saints and Angels to judge the World, in Righteousness, and by the just Laws of his holy Gospel.

Jurigment, Brethren! a future Judgment at the Bar of Omnipotence, for the deeds done in the Body, good and bad-as the thought of it is awfully alarming, so we may well believe that it was the mention of it by S. Paul, according to those Laws of Righteousness, &c. which he had been demonstrating, that roused the Conscience of Felix, that made him tremble on his Tribunal, and wish to hear no more, or postpone the subject" Go thy way for this time, " when I have a convenient season I will call for " thee.

What circumstances of the Resurrection and last Judgment, St. Paul might have mentioned before Felix, to put him into this trembling condition, the bounds of iny present Discourse will not allow me to inquire. But certain it is, that there is nothing in the whole course of human affairs, nothing that can enter the imagination of man, so great, so extraordinary as those concluding scenes, to which St. Paul had called the attention of Felix, reasoning on the necessity of a Life of Righteousness* and a Judgment to come; in order to be prepared for the last Advent of Christ our Saviour, and be able to stand the general Confagration of the World we inhabit.

If we could figure to ourselves those scenesthe New Jerusalem shining high above us, Tophet Alaming far below us; the glorious Judge ascending his Tirone of Glory, with his Militant Thousands of holy Angels around Him; all Nations gathering before Him, which He separateth one from the other, as a Shepherd divideih his Sheep from the Gcats; setting ihe Sheep on His Right Hand, and the Goats on lis Leftt, in awful expectation of that Sentence, which is to doom them to endless Happiness or Misery; if we could draw these pictures in our minds in true and lively colours, we should scarcely ever be able to attend to any thing else, or divert our imagi

• The Character of Felix was a very bad one, for all manner of unrighteousness, as Tacitus informs us--per omren Suevitiam es Libi.lineon jus regium exercuit~He practised all manner of Crue ty and Intemperance, in the Administration of the Government; thinking that he might commit (cuneta Malefacta impune) all kinds of Wickedness without Punishment; and therefore it is no wonder that St. Paul's arguments concerning a future Judgment and Punishments to come, made him tremble.- Jose. phus informs us that Drusilla, the wife of Felix, was no better than himself; that she deserted her husband King Isis, to marry a Hearben Felix, doing evil, and defying tbe Laws of ber Country.

[See Whitby's Commentary. † St. Matt. Ch. XXV.

nations from such awful subjects ! For what can ever affect us in this world, if Heaven and Hell, all in motion-the greatest Glory united with the greatest Terror, have not this effect? For, however much this blessed JEsus has been despised on earth, and his Holy Doctrines, rejected of men; the day I speak of, will come a Day, O Felix ! when he shall shew himself to be the Son of God, with Power! For it concerns the honour of his Government, that there should be an Account and Judgment to come! In this world, all things come alike unto all men. There is one Event to the Righteous and to the Wicked, to the Clean and to the Unclean, to him that Sweareth, and to him who Feareth an Oath! But in that last Judgment, whereof I speak, Justice shall be done to every one; each doubtful case shall be cleared

up, and the Ways of God vindicated to Man! All the present Mazes of Providence shall then be penetrated and laid open. Secret Wickedness, deep Disguise, Dissimulation and Guilt, shall then be unveiled ! Concealed and persecuted Goodness shall be lifted up and rewarded, and flagrant Villainy punished!

As the Circumstances attending this last Judg.. ment will be terrible, so will the Preparations for it be awfully alarming! When the Son of God rises from his Throne to come to Judgment, the whole world of invisible Spirits will attend his progress. At the Voice of the Archangel, and the Sound of the Trump of God—the Dead shall hear, and shall rise and marshal themselves, obedient to the sum

Those who lived some thousand years ago,

mons.

« VorigeDoorgaan »