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peace, and the imprisonment of the apostle afforded him an opportunity of setting the officer right on this subject. This was of great advantage. Rulers generally receive most unjust accounts of Christians from those who approach them; and personal intercourse is necessary to remove prejudice, and vindicate from false aspersions. No two characters could be more unlike than those of the persons who were confounded by the Roman tribune. The Egyptian was a man of blood, and the destruction of civil government: the apostle was a man of peace, and enjoined unlimited submission to the existing powers in all civil things. Such an impression, then, in the minds of those in authority must have been very injurious to the progress of the gospel ; and Providence gave Paul this opportunity of removing it. The seizure of Paul
him also several opportunities of preaching the gospel to people of the first distinction in the country; many of whom were not likely in any other way to hear him. He was thereby enabled to defend himself, and, consequently, to commend the gospel before the highest councils of Jews and Gentiles. The Roman tribune gave him liberty to speak for himself; and, in doing so, he exhibits the gospel in the strongest manner. On the next day, Paul had an opportunity, through the command of the chief captain, to speak before the chief priests and all their council. Had he not been a prisoner, speaking in defence of his life, he could not have enjoyed the advantage of speaking to such assembly. Providence took this way of
gathering a congregation of the rulers of the earth to hear the ambassador of the Son of God. If they did not believe him, they shall at last be judged by his word ; and the gospel is a sweet savour to God in those who perish by rejecting it, as well as in those who are saved by it.
Paul had another opportunity of preaching the gospel to the mighty, when he was accused by the orator Tertullus, with the high priest and elders of the Jews, before Felix the governor. Felix himself, in consequence of this, sent for Paul, and, with his wife Drusilla, heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Paul stood again in judgment before the governor Festus, when he was accused by the high priest and the ehief of the Jews. Providentially also, Agrippa and Bernice come to Cæsarea to salute Festus, and by this means Paul had another hearing before the most august personages, “ with the chief captains, and principal men of the city." In this way, the gospel would excite great interest, and be heard by all ranks in the country. Were not such opportunities a rich recompence to Paul for all the hardships of this assault and imprisonment?
PAUL SENT TO ROME IN A PROVIDENTIAL WAY.
Acts xxi. 60.
Paul expected to visit Rome, and God intended to send him there. But Paul's expectations and God's intentions, as to the manner of his convey• For
ance to the seat of the empire of the world, were very different. Paul expected to go there of his own accord on some convenient opportunity. God intended to send him there as a prisoner. God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers ; making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you. For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established ; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.
Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit
among you also, even as among other Gentiles. I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barba. rians; both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also."-Rom. i. 9-15. Paul, you will go to Rome, but in far different circumstances from what you expect.
“ Be of good cheer,” says God to Paul, when a prisoner, “ for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.” Now, had a prize essay been announced on that occasion, on the best mode of sending Paul on this embassy, out of a hundred thousand competitors there would not be one who would have taken God's plan. All would have sent Paul to the seat of empire in a style worthy of the dignity of Christianity, and of its author. He would have had a numerous and magnificent retinue; and letters of recommendation to the most distinguished persons in the court; and, if possible, to the emperor himself. For such advantages Paul must be instructed to have some little complaisance to power, and to speak with moderation with respect to heathen idolatry. The superiority of the light of revelation he may be suffered to declare ; but the broad condemnation of the religion of the emperor and his people would be unwise and intemperate. By prudent concessions and explanations, philosophers and statesmen may be brought over to the profession of the new religion. But to denounce damnation against all unbelievers would be harsh and uncharitable ; and would raise every arm against the gospel.
But, Paul, your friends have no resources, and no means of affording you access to the distinguished men in Rome. What, then, says human wisdom? Why, if Paul cannot appear in pomp at Rome, let him attract notice by his singularity. Habit him with the cloak and staff of the philosopher. These are cheap but effectual means of securing honour. The tub of Diogenes drew the attention of Alexander the Great; and had the conqueror of the world been obliged to choose a second place, he would have chosen the tub of Diogenes.
But God took another way, and Paul was sent to preach the gospel in Rome, not as a friend of emperors, nor as a philosopher, but as a prisoner. And it is not difficult for those who are acquainted with God, to see that in this Providence the foolishness of God is wiser than men. Had Paul gone to Rome in any way that he could have been sent by his friends, he would not have had the same access to the emperor that he was permitted as a prisoner. Had Paul been a man even of the highest rank in society, or had he been the first of philosophers, or of orators, he might have preached the gospel in Rome for balf a century without having an emperor for an auditor. He would have been looked upon as a crazy fanatic, or an interested impostor ; and would have been so utterly despised by the court, that persons of distinction, and especially the emperor, would never think of hearing him. But, as a prisoner appealing to Cæsar, Paul must be heard by Cæsar. Thus, Cæsar heard the gospel, and must be judged by it. Thus, the gospel would make a noise in Rome, so as to be heard by almost every individual in the city; and the report of it would be propagated over the whole world. Even in our own free country a Christian suffering for the gospel, on any occasion, is the means of drawing attention to the gospel more than a man of chief distinction who is not persecuted. The poorest man standing for his life is an object of interest to all; and he will be heard in his own behalf. Neither the business nor the pleasures of Cæsar could be allowed to prevent him from hearing the prisoner for the gospel of Christ. The bonds of the apostle, and the gospel through them, were noised over the whole world. This is one great