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PREACHED MARCH 21, 1773.
ACTS xxiv. 24, 25.
After certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith of Christ. And, as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go
THY WAY FOR THIS TIME; WHEN I HAVE A CONVENIENT SEASON, I WILL CALL FOR THEE.
THIS Felix, whose name is become so me morable in the Christian church, had been made Procurator of Judæa by the Emperor Claudius, and continued in that government
during the six or seven first years of Nero: when he was recalled to answer for his oppressive administration before the emperor; who, we are told, would have punished him, according to his deserts, but for the interposition of Pallas, at that time Nero's chief minister.
He was, indeed, in all respects a very corrupt and profligate man, as appears from the testimony of Tacitus and Josephus"; from whom we learn, that he was more especially addicted to the vices of lust and cruelty; both which he exercised in the most audacious manner; vexing the people with all sorts of oppression, and rioting in his excesses, without restraint. Drusilla, too, is represented to us in a light, not much more favourable. For, though a Jewess, and the wife of another man, she had contracted a marriage, or rather lived in adultery with this pagan governor of Judæa; transgressing at once both a moral and positive law of her religion, for the sake of ascending to that honour.
One would wonder how persons of this character should have any curiosity to hear Paul
a Annal. xii, c. 54. Hist. v. c. 9.
b Antiq. Jud. L. xx. c; 5,
concerning the faith of Christ. And, without doubt, they had no serious desire of information. It is likely they proposed to themselves some entertainment from questioning the prisoner; and the presence of Drusilla makes it credible that the entertainment was chiefly designed for her; who might be a bigot to her religion, though she scorned to live up to it; and therefore wanted, we may suppose, to insult Jesus in the person of his disciple.
However, let their purpose be what it would, such were FELIX and DRUSILLA, before whom Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come.
Paul was not in the number of those complaisant preachers, who take a text, in which their hearers have no concern. He had to do with persons, who bade defiance to religion in all its forms; and his subject was well suited to the occasion. They expected an amusing tale of Jesus Christ: but the Apostle, who knew how unworthy they were of being instructed in the faith, as not yet possessing the first principles of morals, took up the matter a great deal higher; and, discoursing to them on the natural duties of justice and temperance, which they had grossly violated, and on the