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PAUL BEFORE THE COUNCIL.
WE have seen, in the last Lecture, to what danger Paul was exposed, not long after his arrival at Jerusalem. He was saved from the fury of the Jews, who intended to put him to death for the supposed crimes of blasphemy against the law, and profanation of the temple, by the commander of the Roman soldiers, who kept guard in the castle of Antonia. In the end of the twenty-first chapter, we are informed, that, after some conversation with that officer, he was permitted to address the people; and in the twenty-second chapter, we have an account of his speech. He begins by assigning the reason, which had induced him, who was once zealous for the law, and a persecutor of Christianity, to become its friend and advocate. The sudden and surprising change is attributed to a miraculous appearance of our Saviour, which convinced him, that he was the true Messiah, and not an impostor as he had hitherto believed.
There is one fact, not recorded in any of the preceding chapters, the mention of which gave great offence to his hearers, and was the occasion of the abrupt termination of his speech. I shall relate it in the words of the Apostle. “And it came to pass, that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance, and saw him saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me. And I said, Lord, they know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue, them that believed in thee. And when the blood of thy martyr, Stephen, was shed, I also was standing by, and consented unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.” It was impossible 350for an unbelieving Jew to hear this account without the utmost indignation, because, it charged him and his brethren with the guilt of obstinately rejecting the Messiah, and represented the Gentiles as chosen to enjoy those privileges, of which the Jews had proved themselves to be unworthy. This statement was so contrary to the pleasing idea, that they were the favourites of Heaven, and to the contempt in which they held the nations of the world, that nothing can be conceived more mortifying to their pride, and more calculated to inflame their resentment against the speaker. Accordingly, although they had listened with calmness to the narrative of his conversion, “they now lifted up their voices, and said, Away with such a fellow from the earth; for it is not fit that he should live. And they cried out, and cast off their clothes, and threw dust into the air.”
The chief captain, who could not comprehend the cause of the uproar, either because he did not understand the Hebrew language, in which Paul delivered his speech, or because he was ignorant of the points in dispute between the Christians and the Jews, “commanded him to be brought into the castle, and bade that he should be examined by scourging, that he might know wherefore they so cried against him.” He ordered Paul to be scourged, that the severity of pain might extort a confession of his crime; for, at present, there was no proof of his guilt, and the only presumption against him was the general clamour of the multitude. The barbarous practise of subjecting an accused person, to torture, was, in certain cases, permitted by the Romans, and has been adopted by some modern nations, in contradiction to the plainest dictates of justice and common sense. It is evidently unjust to punish a man, who, for aught his judges know, is innocent; and there is not a more precarious method of discovering the truth than the confession of a person in pain, who cannot be supposed to be master of his own thoughts, and may be induced to make any declaration, which shall procure immediate relief from his sufferings. “But as they bound him with thongs, Paul said unto the centurion that stood by, Is it lawful for you to scourge a man that is a Roman, and uncondemned?” The law forbade a Roman citizen to be scourged; and Paul inherited this character by birth, although his parents were Jews. Tarsus, the place of his nativity, was favoured by Julius Cesar and Augustus; and it is probable, that the right of citizenship was one of the privileges which the latter had conferred upon its 351inhabitants. The rank of citizen of Rome was an honour to which the most illustrious persons aspired. The chief captain had obtained it with a great sum; and knowing with what jealousy it was guarded by the laws against every insult and violation, he dismissed those who should have examined the prisoner by torture. Paul, although willing to suffer and die for the gospel, had not imbibed that enthusiastic passion for martyrdom, which impelled some Christians in the following ages, to court torments and death, by voluntarily accusing themselves at the tribunals of the heathen magistrates. Acting upon this sober and rational principle, that, if we can avoid sufferings without deserting our duty, we ought to avoid them, he pleaded his civil rights, as a defence against the cruelty of the men, into whose hands he had fallen. But, as there was no law forbidding a Roman citizen to be imprisoned, he was detained in the castle till the next day, when the great council of the nation was summoned to meet.
The assembly, before which Paul appeared on this occasion, was that which was commonly known by the name of the Sanhedrim, and was the highest court in the nation. The Jewish writers affirm, that it subsisted during all the ages of their commonwealth, and was instituted in the wilderness, when seventy elders of Israel were chosen to assist Moses in the government. The Sanhedrim was composed of the same number of members. Some, however, are of opinion, that its commencement can be traced no farther back than the return from the Babylonian captivity. It was a court to which appeals were made from the sentences of inferior judicatories; but there were some causes of greater difficulty and importance, in which it claimed a sole right to judge. When our Lord said, that “it could not be that a Prophet should perish,” that is, should die by a judicial sentence, “out of Jerusalem,” he seems to have referred to the Sanhedrim, which met in that city, and assumed the exclusive authority to try the pretensions of the Prophets, and to punish those who were found guilty of imposture. In the degenerate times, which preceded the downfal of the Jewish state, a true Prophet was more likely to be condemned, than to be recognised and honoured by men, who were corrupted by false notions of religion, and by the vices of the age. The Council was now summoned by the chief captain, as it had been called together, at the birth of our Saviour, by Herod. Its independence was lost, and its jurisdiction was abridged, during the reign of that 352king, to whom it was an object of jealousy. The Roman commander brought Paul before the Sanhedrim, because he appeared, from the clamours of the people, to have been guilty of some offence against their laws; and, probably, that court asserted its right to judge him as a blasphemer of Moses, and of their sacred institutions.
In the presence of this august assembly, Paul was not abashed and intimidated. Alone in the midst of enemies, who had both the inclination and the power to injure him, he surveyed them with an undaunted countenance; supported by consciousness of innocence, and the expectation of that assistance, which Jesus Christ had promised to his disciples, when they should be brought before governors and kings for his sake. Instead of endeavouring to disarm their resentment, and to court their favour by any mean concession, or any retractation of his principles, he dared to assert the purity of his motives, and the rectitude of his conduct. “And Paul earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God, until this day.”
The import of this declaration is easily understood, from the frequent occurrence of the same language in ordinary conversation. When a person affirms, that he said or did any thing with a good conscience, he means, that he was not influenced by improper motives, but by a conviction of duty; and that his own mind was so far from condemning him, that it approved of his conduct. In this sense, Paul could truly assert, that he had lived in all good conscience before God, not only since his conversion to Christianity, but also prior to that remarkable change of his views. “I verily thought with myself,” he says, in his speech to king Agrippa, “that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” When opposing him and his religion, he was fully persuaded, that he was performing an acceptable service to God, because he sincerely believed our Saviour to be an impostor. Still he was “a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an injurious person; but he obtained mercy, because he did it ignorantly, in unbelief.” His activity did not originate in malice, but in a mistaken idea of duty. That he acted with the same integrity in the subsequent period of his life, it is impossible to doubt. It was upon the most satisfactory evidence, that he embraced the religion which he had persecuted, and from the purest motives, that he underwent so much toil and suffering in propagating and defending it. “This was his rejoicing, the testimony 353of his conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, he had his conversation in the world.” The design of the declaration which he now made, was to assure his judges, that whatever construction they were disposed to put upon his conduct, it was not from caprice, or with an interested view, that he had passed over to Christianity, but from the unbiassed dictates of his mind; and that he was now as firmly convinced of its truth, as he had ever been of the divine authority of the law.
Ananias, the high-priest, offended at the presumption of Paul, who had spoken before leave was granted by the court, and still more at this bold testimony to the goodness of the cause in which he was embarked, commanded those who stood by him, to “smite him on the mouth.” Among the Jews, this seems to have been a customary mode of expressing reproof and contempt. Zedekiah, a false Prophet, “smote Micaiah a Prophet of the Lord on the cheek, and said, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak unto thee?” and when our Saviour stood before Caiaphas, the officers “smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, who is he that smote thee?”
“Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee thou whited wall.” A whited wall, or a wall daubed with plaster, which gives it a goodly appearance, is an expressive figure to denote a man, whose real dispositions are different from the character which he assumes. “They are sordid and base,” says a heathen philosopher, speaking of some persons who made a false show, “but outwardly they are adorned after the similitude of their walls.” From the high-priest and the president of the Sanhedrim, the strictest regard to justice might have been reasonably expected; but the conduct of Ananias too plainly showed, that he was liable to be transported by passion, beyond the bounds of decorum, and was capable of violating the law, when he could do so with impunity.” Sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” It was contrary to the law, which forbade the judges “to do any unrighteousness in judgment,” and directed them, when a person was accused, “to inquire, and make search, and ask diligently,” before they passed sentence upon him, to order a man to be smitten, who had not been proved guilty of a crime. “God,” says Paul, “shall therefore smite thee.” These words ought not to be considered as a passionate exclamation, or an imprecation 354of vengeance; because the Apostle had learned the lessons of patience, meekness, and forgiveness, in the school of Jesus Christ, was, on all other occasions, an illustrious pattern of those graces, and, as we have reason to believe, from the promise of our Lord to which we lately referred, was now particularly assisted by the Spirit. They may be understood as an intimation founded upon the threatenings of Scripture, of the punishment which a man guilty of such injustice, should sooner or later incur, unless he repented. We may even suppose Paul to have been under the impulse of the prophetic Spirit, and that by his inspiration he now foretold the fate of Ananias. The supposition has great probability, because he undoubtedly enjoyed, at this time, the presence of the Holy Ghost, by whom he was enabled, in many other instances, to predict future events. “God is about to smite thee, thou hypocrite.” As Ananias is said to have suffered a violent death, the correspondence between the event and the plain import of the words, favours the idea, that they were intended as a prophecy. To this view of them, it may, indeed, be objected, that the Apostle, as we shall afterwards see, did not know Ananias. But, he knew him to be unworthy of the station which he held as a member of the Sanhedrim; and as the organ of the Spirit, he might have denounced his doom, although he had been totally unacquainted with his person and character.
To the by standers, the language of Paul seemed unguarded and indecent. He had reproached a man, whose character should be held sacred on account of his office. “Revilest thou God’s high-priest?” Paul answered, “I wist not brethren,” or I did not know, “that he was the high-priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” This was a wise law, founded in the principles of justice and expediency. Not only is respect for our superiors necessary to the support of their authority, which is weakened by want of confidence in their talents and virtues; but when we consider that they are but men like ourselves, whose judgments are not infallible; that they may err with the best intentions, and while they have no object in view but the public good; and that they are often surrounded with persons whose interest is to deceive and mislead them; we shall perceive the equity of requiring us, to be candid in forming an opinion of their proceedings, and cautious in our language, when it is necessary to blame them.
The answer of the Apostle is attended with some difficulties. How was it possible, it has been said, that Paul should not have 355known Ananias, since he had now been several days in Jerusalem, and had frequented the temple, where the high-priest would be often seen? Besides, as he was president of the council, and wore certain badges of his office, must he not have been distinguished, at a single glance, by his seat and his dress? Two methods have been adopted for removing this difficulty. The first supposes, that Paul did know Ananias, but refused to acknowledge him to be high-priest; the second presumes that he was ignorant of both his person, and his official character. Those who think, that the Apostle knew him, consider his words, “I wist not,” as equivalent to “I do not acknowledge,” and they assign the one or the other of the following reasons why he did not acknowledge him; either that the Jewish priesthood was now abolished by the death of Jesus Christ, who had assumed the character of high-priest of the Church, and had an exclusive right to it; or that Ananias was in truth not the high-priest, but had intruded himself into the office, or purchased it with money; and Paul had learned from Gamaliel, that a person who had procured an office by bribery, should not be recognised as a judge, and was not entitled to respect. Neither of these comments upon the words of the Apostle, and least of all the first, will recommend itself to such as love simplicity, and believe, that on this, as other occasions, he studied plainness and candour in expressing his sentiments. Both represent him as using the word “to know,” in an equivocal sense, which is hardly consistent with honesty. Others think, that Paul having been long absent from Jerusalem, might really not know Ananias to be high-priest, especially as the office was not now held during life, but passed, at the will of the Romans, from one person to another in such quick succession, that three are said to have possessed it, in the short space of a year; that the Sanhedrim having probably been assembled, not in the usual place, but in the castle, he might not have appeared in his official dress, nor in his ordinary seat; or that, upon the supposition that Paul did know him and his dignity, he might not observe among so many judges, who commanded him to be smitten, and the high-priest was the last man, whom he should have suspected to be guilty of so gross a violation of the law. Any of these solutions may be considered as satisfactory; but more, I apprehend, has been said upon this subject than was necessary. The difficulty, if not created, has certainly been magnified, by the elaborate attempts to explain it. Paul was a man so little disposed to conceal his sentiments on 356the most trying occasions, so little liable to be driven to any mean shift or evasion by the presence of danger, that we might have contented ourselves with his simple assertion, “that he wist not that Ananias was the high priest.”
But, if Paul had known the rank of the person, who commanded him to be smitten, would he have refrained from speaking as he did? Does not this seem to be the import of his reference to the law, “Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people?” And if his language admitted of correction, where was the promise of the Saviour, “that he would give a mouth and wisdom to his Apostles, which all their adversaries should not be able to gainsay nor resist?” This is a greater difficulty than the other, although it has attracted less attention; but it may be satisfactorily explained. Paul, I apprehend, does not quote the law, with a design to convince his accusers, that as he distinctly remembered it, he could be charged only with an unintentional transgression. Ignorance of the person of the high-priest would not have acquitted him from a breach of the precept, which was equally violated by reviling the other members of the Sanhedrim, who were all invested with the dignity of rulers. Nay, to speak evil of any man, although the lowest and most obscure member of society, was contrary to the law of love, which has, indeed, received new enforcements from the gospel, but was binding under the Mosaic dispensation. The question to be considered is, whether Paul was actually guilty of reviling Ananias; and it may be confidently answered in the negative. If, as we have already supposed, he was under a prophetic impulse, his language, however different from the style, in which ordinary men are bound to address their civil and ecclesiastical superiors, was not disrespectful. In truth, the words were not his own, but the words of God, who pours contempt upon the wicked princes of the earth, and counts them as vanity. A Prophet claimed superiority to the greatest of men; and it was the prerogative of his office to reprove magistrates and kings, and to denounce against them the judgments of Heaven. Our Lord, who never “rendered railing for railing,” and “when he was reviled, reviled not again,” called Herod the tetrarch, “a fox,” on account of his cunning and cruelty.
We are next to consider, by what expedient Paul defeated the design of the Sanhedrim, which, we may confidently affirm, from our knowledge of the implacable enmity entertained by the unbelieving Jews against the disciples of Jesus, had assembled with a 357premeditated resolution to condemn this ringleader of the Christian heresy. It was by dividing his enemies, and inducing one party to espouse his cause from opposition to the other. “And when Paul perceived, that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the chief religious sects among the Jews, with the one or the other of which all the persons of learning, and rank, and fashion, were connected. The Sadducees acknowledged the divine origin of the Jewish religion, and of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, for there is no satisfactory evidence that they received only the five books of Moses; but they interpreted the promises in a temporal sense, and maintained, that obedience was rewarded, and sin was punished, only in the present life. They denied the existence of any spirit besides God, or of any separate spirit; for they rejected the immortality of the soul, and asserted that it died with the body. It is not easy to conceive on what ground they could controvert the existence of angels, who are so often represented in the sacred books of the Jews, as appearing, and speaking, and acting; but it is probable, that they imagined them to have been transient appearances, or temporary emanations of divine power. Having discarded from their system the immortality of the soul, and a future state of retribution, they were necessarily led to deny the doctrine of the resurrection. “The Sadducees say, that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.” The religious creed of the latter was more consonant to Scripture, to the suggestions of conscience, and to the expectations of the human race. They believed not only that angels were real beings, but that the soul should survive the body, be reunited to it at a future period, and share in its happiness or its misery. The tenets of the Sadducees were embraced chiefly by the rich and the great, who wished to enjoy the pleasures of life, without the dread of a future reckoning; while those of the Pharisees were espoused by the lower orders, and by all the sober part of the community. From the opposition of their principles, and a competition for power, the two sects regarded each other with jealousy and aversion.
When Paul perceived that the one part of his judges were Sadduces, and the other part were Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of 358the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.” Some may be disposed to consider this declaration of his sentiments as an artifice or stratagem, scarcely consistent with simplicity and manliness of conduct. But, Paul asserted nothing but what was strictly true; for he had once belonged to the sect of the Pharisees, and he still retained so much of their creed as related to the resurrection of the dead, and the subjects connected with it. He was now standing before the Sanhedrim, because he had affirmed the resurrection of Christ, which was not only a proof of his Messiahship, but is the grand evidence of our future triumph over the power of death. It will, perhaps, be objected, that there was a great difference between the doctrine of the Pharisees upon this point, and that of Christianity; for, that according to Josephus, they did not hold the resurrection of the same body which had died, but the transmigration of souls, or their passage from one body to another. But, in this instance, we may suspect his accuracy, or his fidelity. He has either ascribed to the whole sect an opinion which was entertained only by a few; or with the same disregard to truth which has led him to accommodate other parts of his history to the taste of the Gentiles, he has not scrupled to render the doctrine of the resurrection more palatable to them, by representing it as nearly allied to the notions of Pythagoras and other philosophers. There is no doubt, that the ideas of the Pharisees were in substance the same with those of the Scriptures. Paul knew them as well as Josephus, and would not have ventured to misrepresent them, in the presence of the chief men of the sect.4545De Bello Jud. lib. ii. cap. 12.
No blame can be justly imputed to the Apostle for this avowal of his sentiments, although it was made with a design to divide the members of the council. Our Lord has recommended to his disciples “the wisdom of the serpent,” as well as “the harmlessness of the dove;” not the practice of deceit and wicked policy, but the enlightened prudence, which knows how to improve favourable opportunities, and to avoid danger without a desertion of duty. No man is required to die for religion, unless he cannot live, but by renouncing and dishonouring it. If a seasonable declaration of the truth would save the life of Paul, by what law was he bound to be silent? And, if by so innocent an expedient he could turn the hostility of the adversaries of the gospel against one another, while 359during the contest he should escape, was he not perfectly justifiable in making use of it? It will throw additional light upon his conduct to remark, that he was now before judges, from whom he had no reason to expect an impartial trial. The high-priest had already commanded him to be smitten contrary to the law; and he foresaw from this commencement, with what violence and disregard of justice the business of the court would be conducted. He was, certainly, at liberty to employ any means, consistent with truth and honour, to deliver himself from so iniquitous a tribunal.
The plan which he adopted was successful. “And when he had said so, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees; and the multitude was divided.” In the ninth verse we are farther told, “that there arose a great cry: and the Scribes that were of the Pharisees part arose, and strove, saying, We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God.” How powerful is the influence of party-spirit in forming our opinions, and swaying our affections! It confounds our moral perceptions, and incapacitates us for judging impartially of either our enemies or our friends. Those who have yielded up their understandings to its government, see every object through a deceitful medium; and in their eyes, the characters of others change from bad to good, and from good to bad, according as they approach or recede from the arbitrary standard of excellence, which they have presumed to establish. When Paul was introduced into the presence of the Sanhedrim, he was regarded by all the members as a heretic and a blasphemer. But, no sooner has he declared himself in favour of the Pharisees, than he is pronounced by them to be an innocent person. What! could they find no evil in the man, who had openly apostatised from Moses, and preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead? No; the thought instantly occurs to them, that an angel or a spirit may have spoken to him, and, his doctrine may be a revelation from heaven; and they gravely admonish the court to beware of opposing him, lest they should be found guilty of contending with God himself. And what was the cause of these new and liberal sentiments respecting Christianity? Whence do the Pharisees begin to suspect it to be true? Some have been inclined to put a charitable construction upon their conduct; but there does not appear to be any sufficient reason for attributing it to conviction, and it may be accounted for by a less honourable principle. Paul had avowed one of the peculiar 360doctrines of the Pharisees in the presence of their rivals, whom they were always eager to humble; and the merit of this action atoned, in their eyes, for all the heresies which he was said to have propagated. They were willing to allow, not from a change of their views, but from opposition to the Sadducees, that the gospel might be true, because it lent its aid to support one of the distinguished articles in their creed.
In this way, I think, their conduct should be explained. But, by whatever motive they were influenced, the contest between them and the Sadducees became so vehement, and was carried on with so much noise, that the Sanhedrim could not proceed in the trial. The chief captain being afraid lest Paul should fall a victim to the violence of the parties,” commanded the soldiers to go down, and to take him by force from among them, and to bring him into the castle.” In this manner, the design of the Jews against him was defeated; and he was preserved, as the Lord told him the following night, to bear testimony to the gospel in Rome, as he had already done in Jerusalem.
To this discourse I shall subjoin a few practical inferences.
First, We learn how desirable it is to enjoy the testimony of a good conscience, particularly in the season of adversity and trial. A well-grounded persuasion of the goodness of the cause in which we are engaged, and consciousness of the purity of our motives, will support our minds under reproach, and arm us with courage in the midst of dangers. A conscience enlightened by Scripture and purified by faith, will prove a source of satisfaction, into whatever difficulties we are brought by our religious profession; whereas the man whose heart accuses him of insincerity, must blush at his own baseness, even when his hypocrisy is rewarded with the most flattering commendations A good conscience is a preservative from remorse and fear, two inmates which torment the soul in which they reside. What embarrassment and anxiety should the Apostle have felt in his present circumstances, had he been acting the part of an impostor? But, we have seen him collected and undaunted; and being at peace with himself and with God, he did not dread the power of the Jewish rulers, who had condemned his Master, and were actuated by the same hostile sentiments towards himself. “If our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence towards 361God;” and when we can look up to him as our friend and guardian, “we shall not fear what flesh can do unto us.”
Secondly, Let us be careful to discover a meek and quiet spirit, when we are injured and ill treated by others. We, indeed, hear Paul, when Ananias commanded him to be smitten on the mouth, saying, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall.” But we should consider that the actions of other men which were right, are to be imitated by us, only when we are in the same circumstances; and that it is an abuse of examples, to make a general and indiscriminate application of them. The disciples wished to be permitted to bring down fire from heaven upon a Samaritan village, as Elijah had done to the bands of armed men, which were sent by the king of Israel, to seize him; but they had not the spirit of Elijah. Paul, we have reason to believe, was moved by the Spirit of prophecy; and words spoken under a divine impulse, however severe, were not inconsistent with Christian charity. Our rule is plain, “not to render railing for railing, but to bless them that curse us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us.” Above all other examples is that of Jesus Christ, who instead of upbraiding his murderers with their wickedness, and denouncing the vengeance of Heaven against them, said, when he hung upon the cross, and felt their cruelty in every member of his body, “Father forgive them: for they know not what they do.”
Lastly, How easily can God defend his own cause! By a word spoken in season, the designs of the Jewish Sanhedrim against Paul were defeated. When the enemies of the truth are united to oppose it, they are but men; and God says to his Church, “Who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass?” At his command, their breath goes out, or their power and their wisdom strangely fail, so that “their hands cannot find their enterprise.” Besides, although in their conspiracy against religion, they seem to be in perfect concord, yet they are influenced by very different motives, which may happen to clash with one another; and in the common affairs of life, they are divided by envy, jealousy, resentment, and an interference of pursuits. There is no true friendship among the wicked; it is merely a temporary connexion of interest, or a combination of mischief. With how much ease can Providence turn their union into open hostility, as in the case of the Ammonites, the Moabites, and the inhabitants of mount Seir, who having invaded 362the land of Judah, in the days of Jehoshaphat, perished by one another’s sword; or in that of the Pharisees and Sadducees, who spent the fury, which was ready to burst forth upon Paul, in mutual clamour and contention? Let no good man ever act the part of a coward. God is with him; and who shall harm him, if he is a follower of that which is good? Let no good man despair of the interests of religion. Is not the arm of Omnipotence able to protect the cause of truth against every adverse power? “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take council together, against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then he shall speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.”363
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