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heart, and adorn it with heavenly graces, will, educate it according to its new destination, and will prepare it for " the inheritance of the saints in light." Thus Paul reminds the Ephesians of their former and their present state.5 "Ye were sometime darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord." Ye were darkness, when Christ commissioned me to open your eyes, and turn you from the power of Satan unto God. Remember for what purpose ye were enlightened. "Walk as children of light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth :) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." "For, for this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil."6
The subject must not be passed over, as if it could not have any relation to ourselves.
It shows us what is the natural state of man;— darkness as to spiritual things: alienation from God: subjugation to Satan. The idol which is worshipped may not be such as the heathen worshipped to whom Paul was sent. But some idol will be worshipped, and God will not be honoured and obeyed. So it will be till the heart is converted from its natural state, and brought to the light of the gospel: brought to "the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ whom he hath sent." It is not enough, that "darkness is past, and the 6 Eph. v. 8—11. 6 i j0hn iii.8.
true light shineth" in our land. It must also "shine within our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."7 The same test must be applied to us, as the apostles applied to their converts from heathenism. If we say that we are turned to God, and "have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." B
PAUL CONCLUDES HIS DEFENCE BEFORE AGRIPPA.—A. D. 62.
Acts xxvi. 19—32.
19. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:
20. But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
21. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and ivent about to kill me.
» 2 Cor. iv.8. 8 1 John i. 6.
22. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
23. That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
24. And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.
Such was the impression on the mind of Festus, to whom all these things were new and strange. As a heathen, he knew nothing of Moses, or the prophets, or of an expected Saviour: and he supposed that Paul was a mere visionary, deceived by his imagination, and acting upon a dream as if it had been reality.
And so Festus might have thought, if there had been nothing connected with the dream. If Moses and others of old time had not written, and left "the sure word of prophecy:" if there had been no evidence, that Christ had come in the flesh: if no account could be given, why he should suffer: if no expectation had been held out that he should rise from the dead, and no proof could be alleged that he had risen :—if none of these things had been connected with the vision; then he might be reckoned as the dupe of imagination, and his words treated as madness. But Paul confidently appeals to Agrippa as knowing what Festus was ignorant of; as knowing how prophecy and event, history and doctrine, confirmed each other.
25. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.
26. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely; for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him ; for this thing was not done in a corner.
27. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.
28. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Paul had an advantage with Agrippa, which he had not before when reasoning with Felix. He had now to deal with one who recognised the Scriptures; acknowledged that God had revealed himself to mankind. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Agrippa had that general belief in the divine word, which such men commonly have when brought up in a country where it is professedly received, and God is avowedly worshipped. They are by no means prepared to deny the truth of revelation, anymore than they are disposed to act as if it were true. Still as Agrippa, when pressed closely by the apostle, could not deny that he believed the prophets; so in our own land, and in our own day, a belief rests upon the mind of many, though it does not influence the heart. And in time of trouble, of danger, of distress, they are ready to say, Almost thoupersuadest me to be a Christian. They commence, perhaps, some plans of reformation; they abstain from practices which conscience condemns, and enter upon a course of life more consistent with christian faith. They illustrate that momentary feeling upon Agrippa's mind, when he said, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
29. And Paul said, I would to God that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, accept these bonds.
The words of Agrippa excited an affectionate emotion in the heart of Paul, while the thought arose within him—Almost a Christian! That profiteth little! O that king Agrippa were indeed a Christian 1
To be almost a Christian, only increases condemnation. It shows that truth has been neglected or resisted. "This is the condemnation, that light hath come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil." Agrippa is himself an example. His state before God was made far worse by what passed at this examination of Paul. Before, probably he knew little of the Christians, except that they were a sect called Nazarenes, and "everywhere spoken against." Now he knew what they believed, and on what their belief was grounded. Now he knew that they rested their faith on the very law and prophets which he himself confessed to be from God. But instead of yielding to conscience, and appointing a time when he might hear Paul again of this important matter; he rises up, and dissolves the assembly. Because on the instant it would cross his mind that to become a Christian would be the destruction of his worldly prospects, and in