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end Providence has in view in all persecutions ; and Christians should suffer with patience, when they consider that their sufferings are for the furtherance of the gospel. A Whitfield may, by his reproaches, be known to majesty ; but a blaspheming Owen, whose system overturns all order, law, and decencies of society, is more likely to obtain an introduction to the presence of majesty.

Paul, then, must go to Rome as a prisoner, and every circumstance contributes to bring about the event. At the moment when God saw fit to send him, a most violent assault was made on him in the Temple ; and for his rescue he was made a prisoner by the Roman tribune. But he was not hurried away immediately. Delays were providentially occasioned, in order that he might have an opportunity of defending himself, and preaching the gospel, before all the authorities in Judea. For this purpose, again and again he is called to speak in the most august assemblies. And it is delightful to trace the hand of Providence, both holding him a prisoner, and preserving him from violence. He was in the very jaws of death ; the Roman tribune is sent by Providence at the critical time to deliver him. He was commanded by the tribune to be examined by scourging. There is no need of this additional suffering. Paul must go to Rome and be tried for his life. The interest of the gospel requires this.

But he has been often scourged; and Providence has no end to serve by his scourging on the present occasion. But how is this to be pre

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vented ? It is the order of the chief captain. Providence has this matter arranged many years ago, and Paul, though a Jew, was a Roman citizen,—an honour and privilege of great advantage, and which the tribune himself obtained only by high purchase. Let no Christian undervalue civil privileges, or decline to avail himself of them in the time of necessity. God is the author of them, as well as of other blessings. This privilege was valuable to Paul on the present occasion ; and by his example, it is valuable to us. It shows us that Paul was not a fanatic, who wantonly exposed his life, or incurred sufferings unnecessarily. He would not will. ingly bear a single stripe, if it was not demanded by his Master. A man may as well whip his own back, as offer it to the whip of the persecutor; and he will have no more advantage from the one than from the other. God does not give a premium to ignorance and fanaticism.

Paul must go to Rome; therefore, he cannot be murdered, though he is a prisoner. Providence, therefore, watches over him, and guards him against all the plots of assassins. “ And when it was day, certain of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul. And there were more than forty which had made this conspiracy. And they came to the chief priests and elders, and said, We have bound ourselves under a great curse, that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul. Now, therefore, ye with the coun

cil signify to the chief captain that he bring him down unto you to-morrow, as though ye would enquire something more perfectly concerning him : and we, or ever he come near, are ready to kill him. And when Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul.” Why was it that the conspiracy was not kept secret ? Why, especially, was it heard by Paul's : sister's son? Why this, Providence disappointed the murderer. Paul did not show himself regard. less of life, nor did he manifest that sort of trust in God which refuses to use the appointed means of safety. He informed the tribune, and the tribune gave

him such an escort to Felix that secured him from all the attempts of his enemies.

Paul stands before Felix, and a bribe would have procured his release. But Paul would not deliver himself in that way. Here we may see the Providence of God in the character of Felix. Had he been a just man, he would have released the pri.

Had he not been a covetous man, he would have released him. He kept him from the hope of receiving money for his deliverance. In his be. haviour also, on going out of office, we may see the hand of Providence. Why did he not, then, set Paul at liberty ? He could no longer entertain expectations of money. He retained him from a “ willingness to show the Jews a pleasure.” His love of popularity overcomes his sense of justice. In this, God's purpose was fulfilled in retaining Paul to send him as a prisoner to Rome. But why

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did not Felix go farther in courting the favour of the people? It would have been a greater pleasure to the Jews had he put Paul to death. Providence restrained him. Paul stands also before Festus, and Festus also

"willing to do the Jews a pleasure.” He asked Paul, then, if he was willing to go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged before him. Paul must go to Rome, and therefore Paul refuses to be judged by Festus. He appeals to Cæsar. Here is the hand of Providence. Had it not been for this appeal, Paul in a short time would have been set at liberty. On another hearing before Agrippa he was declared innocent. “ Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Cæsar.” Does not every child see here that it is Divine Providence that retained Paul a prisoner, in order that he might stand before the sovereign of the Roman world?

Paul must go to Rome ; but Providence took care of his comforts, and raised him

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friends even in those who were ignorant of his God. Julius the centurion, to whom Paul was delivered, treated Paul not only mercifully but politely. “And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself." Yet Julius had no partiality to Paul as a Christian. When Paul warned them of the danger of the voyage, “ the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship more than those things which were spoken by Paul."

A remarkable feature in Providence here presents itself to our view. When God, by the mouth of his servant, had foretold the danger of the voyage, we might expect that the face of nature would have seconded the warning by frowning skies, and all the symptoms of an approaching storm. But this is not the wisdom of God. On the contrary, when Paul was not believed, Providence sent such symptoms of the weather, that a most prosperous voyage was anticipated. " And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete." Every thing appeared favourable, and the prediction of Paul was considered false. And there is nothing more usual in the ways of Providence than this. The wicked man prospers often more than the righteous; and it is rashly concluded that God makes no distinction. Error is propagated and extensively received. It is concluded that God approves

of the doctrine. Men hate the Scriptures, and God has formed them so that they can find specious cavils on which to ground the rejection of them. Moses gives an account of the creation: false science finds appearances which, in its judgment, contradict his obvious meaning; and Moses must either submit to explain, or to be held as an impostor. God, in his Providence, gives every opportunity to the infidel philosopher, and the theologian, who affects the honours of science, to mani. fest that they do not believe the Divine testimony. And for a time the south wind may blow softly,

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