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“ We walk by faith, and not by sight.” The people of God are enabled to realise these hopes, and so enjoy a support proportioned to their trials. Paul says, concerning himself, writing, probably, from his prison at Cæsarea" We are persecuted, but not forsaken ; cast down, but not destroyed.” “ For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." - For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”
PAUL ANSWERS FOR HIMSELF BEFORE AGRIPPA.
A. D. 62.
Acts xxvi. 148.
1. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand and answered for himself :
2. I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews :
3. Especially because I know thee to be expert in all
5 See 2 Cor. iv. 9-16; Rom. viii. 18.
customs and questions which are among the Jews : wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.'
4. My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews;
5. Which knew me from the beginning (if they would testify) that after the most straitest sect of our religion, I lived a Pharisee.
6. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers :
7. Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Condemned as he was by the Jews for teaching things contrary to their religion, the object of Paul in his defence must be, to show, that instead of making void their national faith, he was in fact establishing it. There was no reason, he first urges, why he should contradict the law and the prophets : brought up, as he had been, among his own nation, having lived, not only as a Jew, but a Jew of the strictest sort-a Pharisee. Nor did he oppose the law. For that faith, on account of which he now stood and was judged, was but the fulfilment of the promise made of God unto their fathers : that which their twelve tribes were anxiously expecting. He was now accused, because he affirmed that this very hope had been fulfilled : that the long promised, long expected Saviour had been sent, and was proved to be the Saviour by his resurrection from the grave. So he had before
Agrippa being himself of Jewish parentage, was not, like Festus or Felix, ignorant of the Jewish history and law.
reasoned with the Jews at Antioch. (xiii. 32.) “We declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God has fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he has raised up Jesus from the dead.” And then he earnestly asks, why should they be so unwilling to credit this fact ?
8. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead ?
In putting this question to the assembly, Paul does not speak so much of the resurrection of Jesus, as of the resurrection of the dead in general.? This would imply that unbelief on this point lay at the root of much of their resistance to the gospel: and that the assembly before which he spoke, was not unlikely to be tainted with the leaven of the Sadducees.
And yet among the Jewish nation, it never ought to have been thought incredible that God should raise the dead. It was denied, or doubted, by the heathens, who had no knowledge of the creation of the world, no distinct view of the power or wisdom of the Creator. Not so the Jew. He was taught in his scriptures, that the body which returned to the dust, had been dust before, till God gave to the dust of the earth the form and fashion of man. He knew that though the body had ceased to breathe, it might be made to breathe again : just as in the beginning, God breathed
. He does not write tov vekpov, one ad, or him who had been dead: but touç vekpouc, the dead.
Is it more,
into man's nostrils the breath of life. to bring life back to that which has once been, than to give life once to that which has never been? The Jewish scriptures taught, how God had said, “ Let there be light, and there was light.” Cannot he say, Let there be life and motion in the body which has ceased to live and move? He who said, “Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear ;" 3 cannot he say, Let the sea give back the dead that are in it,* and let all that are in the graves come forth, and stand before the Son of man?
It is idle, therefore, for those who believe in the creation, to deny the resurrection ; and to say within themselves, “How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come ?"
God giveth them a body as it pleaseth him. He who
the corruptible body, will also give the incorruptible. He who gave the vile and earthly, will also give the glorious and heavenly.5
Another argument ought to have satisfactorily convinced every believer in the Jewish scriptures, that God would raise the dead. What else could agree with the sentiment of their ancestor Abraham, a sentiment approved of God, and confirmed by our reason and understanding:
" That the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from Thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do
3 Gen. i. 9.
Rev. xx. 13.
5 1 Cor. xv. 42, &c
right ?"6 Should it be the same with Abel as with Cain? with David as with Jeroboam ? with Naboth as with Ahab ? with Josiah as with Jehoiakim ? Surely, when they looked back upon the case of any one of their holy men, who " served God in their generation,” and then fell asleep; they saw a proof of the resurrection ; they saw what made it incredible, not that God should, but that God should not, raise the dead.
Supposing, for instance, they had turned their minds towards some one of these : upon Moses. They were acquainted with his history. They knew that he was brought up in the palace of the king of Egypt, and that all the honours of the land, all the pleasures of the court, were within his reach. At the age when these are most alluring, he renounced them all, that he might fulfil the counsel of God in delivering his people. He gave up what naturally he would have desired, he followed what naturally he would have disliked, because it was God's will. He overcame his own peculiar disposition, for he was the “ meekest man of all the earth,” and set himself to oppose the power, and the haughtiness, and the obstinacy of Pharaoh. For forty years he suffered the perverseness and withstood the wickedness of the people entrusted to his charge.
At last the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, “ Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, and die in the mount whither thou goest up: and be gathered unto thy people.” 7 See Gen. xviii. 25, &c.
7 Deut, xxxii. 49, 50.