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leisure is a hint what the Lord would have you to do. As you have no business of your own, he would have you devote yourselves to his business. He would have you carry on, in some of its manifold departments, that work which he came to earth to do. He would have you go about his Father's business as he was wont to be about it. And if you still persist in living to yourselves, you cannot be happy. You cannot spend all your days in making pin-cushions or reading newspapers, or loitering in club-rooms and coffee houses, and yet be happy. If you profess to follow Christ, this is not a Christian life. It is not a conscientious, and so it cannot be a comfortable life. And if the pincushion or the newspaper fail to make you happy, remember the reason- very good as relaxations, ever so great an amount of these things can never be a business, and "wist ye not that you should be about your Father's business?"

2. Having made a wise and deliberate selection of a business, go on with it, go through with it. Persevering mediocrity is much more respectable and unspeakably more useful than talented inconstancy. In the heathery turf you will often find a plant chiefly remarkable for its peculiar roots; from the main stem down to the minutest fibre, you will find them all abruptly terminate, as if shorn or bitten off, and the silly superstition of the country people alleges, that once on a time it was a plant of singular potency for healing all sorts of maladies, and therefore the great enemy of man in his malignity bit off the roots in which its virtues resided. This plant, with this quaint history, is a very good emblem of many well-meaning but little-effecting people. They might be defined as radicibus præmorsis, or rather inceptis succisis. The efficacy of every good work lies in its completion, and all their good works terminate abruptly and are left off unfinished. The devil frustrates their efficacy by cutting off their ends; their unprofitable history is made up of plans and projects, schemes of usefulness that were never gone about, and magnificent undertakings that were never carried forward; societies that were set agoing, then left to shift for themselves, and forlorn beings, who for a time were taken up and instructed, and just when they were beginning to show symptoms of improvement, were cast on the world again.

But others there are, who before beginning to build count the cost, and having collected their materials and laid their foundations deep and broad, go on to rear their structure, indifferent to more tempting schemes and sublimer enterprises subsequently suggested. The man who provides a home for a poor neighbor, is a greater benefactor of the poor than he who lays the foundation of a stately almshouse and never finishes a single apartment. The persevering teacher who guides one

child into the saving knowledge of Christ and leads him on to established habits of piety, is a more useful man than his friend who gathers in a room-full of ragged children, and after a few weeks of waning zeal, turns them all adrift on the streets again. The patriot who set his heart on abolishing the slave-trade, and after twenty years of rebuffs and revilings, of tantalized hope and disappointed effort, at last succeeded, achieved a greater work than if he had set afloat all possible schemes of philanthropy, and then left them, one after the other, to sink or swim. So short is life, that we can afford to lose none of it in abortive undertakings; and once we are assured that a given work is one which it is worth our while to do, it is true wisdom to set about it instantly; and once we have begun it, it is true economy to finish it.

SERMON VII.

PAUL BEFORE FELIX.

BY DANIEL MOORE, M. A.

"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 send for thee."

ACTS XXIV. 25.

THE Jews at Thessalonica spoke with much more truth than they were aware of, when, in describing the first introduction of Christianity into Europe, they exclaimed, "These that have turned the world upside down have come hither also." Christianity did turn the world upside down; and that not before it needed turning. Everywhere around were seen the tokens of spiritual disorder: men were judged of by false standards, actions were weighed in deceitful balances, laws were framed on erroneous principles, and every thing denoted that the moral world had flown off from its centre, or, under the action of some strange disturbances, had travelled far out of its appointed orbit. The time was come, therefore, when it was needful that a change should pass over the spirits of men; that there should be, not a revolution of thought alone, but a recasting of language. Moral qualities were losing all their distinctness, by being called out of their proper names; men delighted "to call evil good, and good evil; to put darkness for light, and light for darkness; to put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter."

But Christianity gave mankind a new vocabulary, taught them the right use of language, and made words to become (what they could scarcely be said to have been before) the true representatives of thoughts and things. No purpose, either in politics or morals, seems to be answered by such conventions, as that a great general should ordinarily mean a great curse; that the most terrific scourge which can afflict humanity should be described as the glory of a nation's arms; that we should call a man high-spirited, when we mean to say he is resentful; or proclaim him destitute of spirit, because he aims to resemble the meek and lowly Jesus. Delusions like these, however, never want either for advocates among teachers, or partisans among the taught. In every age there are to be found those who would " say to the seers, see not, and to the prophets, prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits;" and, on the other hand, there have rarely been wanting prophets, who, in compliance with such infatuated request, have been willing to prophesy their people into a smooth destruction, and have been careful only that they should die an easy death.

Not so, however, the great apostle of the Gentiles; he would be a prophet in chains, and, before those "in high places," was bold to denounce" spiritual wickedness." He would neither prophesy deceits to obtain his own deliverance, nor smooth things to conciliate his judge. He was one of those who was to "turn the world upside down," and, therefore, was only pursuing his vocation when he turned a judgmenthall into a sanctuary, and made a pulpit of the prisoner's bar; showing how the accused might arraign his judge, and the judge be made so to tremble on his own tribunal, that he was glad to wave the man of chains away, saying, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will send for thee."

The text presents to us two points for consideration: first, the topics of discourse selected by the apostle; and, then, the PRACTICAL EFFECT of the discourse on the mind of his principal hearer.

I. In considering the TOPICS OF DISCOURSE selected by the apostle, you will bear in mind the peculiar circumstances of his two principal hearers, Felix and Drusilla. The former, as you remember, was originally a slave of the emperor Nero; but, being raised to the dignity of procurator of Judæa, he exercised the imperial functions with such a mercenary soul, and by such open unfairness disgraced his judicial administration, that he compelled the Jews at last to petition for his removal. The other principal hearer, Drusilla, was the wife of an insignificant heathen king, who was then living, and who, after the most

painful sacrifices to obtain her hand, found himself basely supplanted by his more powerful neighbor, the procurator of Judæa. Such were the apostle's auditors: a ruler hated for his injustice, a woman enthroned in unblushing sin; and yet both evincing a strange and curious anxiety to hear this" ambassador in bonds" discourse "concerning the faith in Christ."

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And now, observe with what holy skill this "workman that needed not to be ashamed" proceeded to "divide the word of truth." The first thing that cannot fail to be observed is, that he does not direct his reproofs against what he knew to be the vices of his noble hearers, but that he is wholly taken up in expatiating on the blessedness of the contrary virtues. It was from no want of faithfulness to the terms of his high commission, "boldly to rebuke vice," that the apostle did not arouse the moral indignation of the assembled courtiers, by one of those graphic delineations of character which sometimes gave to his pictures the attributes and vividness of things of life. Easily could his vast mental resources have evoked a spectre of tyranny, of which the living counterpart sat before him, of an oppressor, seated on a purchased throne, ruling with a rod of iron, and pampering his mean soul, from day to day, with "the wages of unrighteousness." We should then have seen the pale wrath gathering on the monster's brow, and revenge choking all his powers of utterance, as he sunk under the withering details of the hireling crying out for his defrauded wages, and the widow suing for her alienated portion, and the orphan, with no advocate but his miseries, and no weapon but his tears, pouring forth his disregarded suit to a Father that dwelt in heaven. But this holy preacher acted upon the spirit of his Master, and therefore resolved to prove, that, though he hated the sin much, yet he loved the sinner more; that, if he kindled coals of fire, it was not to consume, but to melt, to soften, to fuse into a mould of penitential humbleness the iron soul of the transgressor; and, for this end, he knew how worse than useless would be any irritating exhibitions of those judicial frauds, the cry of which had so long and so loudly entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. He adopted, therefore, the wiser, and, as the event proved, the more effectual course of reasoning on topics, which, while they disarmed his hearers of all hostility against himself, would yet pierce, even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, the guilty pair before whom he had been desired to preach.

Accordingly he opened his discourse by reasoning in favor of righte ousness; taking that term first, perhaps, in its most comprehensive meaning, as denoting moral rectitude, or whatsoever is due either to

*Josephus, lib. xx. c. 1.

God or man. All irreligion is essentially unjust, as withholding from God his rightful due in the affections of our hearts, and in the obedience of our lives. It involves, also, a want of rectitude to our fellowmen, in the violation of the claims of justice and benevolence. But, more particularly, and pointedly, he would reason of righteousness in a public magistrate; of the benefits to a nation, of the acceptableness to God, of the calm satisfaction to a judge's own mind, when, unawed by threats, and inaccessible to a bribe, he weighed all causes in an even balance, and ruled his people in the fear of God: and thus he would show this imperial favorite how he might have that which would be far more ornamental than his purple, and raise him much higher than his throne; that the noblest kingdom was the empire over the hearts of his subjects, and a people's love the brightest jewel in his crown!

By the same spirit was the apostle influenced in the selection of his second topic of discourse. He reasoned of temperance; of the habit of self-control, of the blessedness of keeping all our appetites under a holy and self-denying restraint, and of the moral benefits to a nation, when those who sat in high places threw a fresh lustre over their dignities, by their unblemished purity of life. The occasion had not been unfit for the preacher to have discoursed of the griefs of an injured husband, basely supplanted in his affections, his house left unto him desolate, and his wife polluting God's holy altar, that she might bind round her dishonored brow the diadem of borrowed royalty. But the apostle knew, that, though this might be the best way to arouse the passions, it was the worst way to win the heart. He chose, therefore, to enlarge on that wise and beautiful subordination of the natural affections, described in Scripture as temperance, which makes up the spiritual harmony of the soul, which is the essence of all gospel liberty, which lays the foundation for a holy life, and thus educates the soul for future companionship with God. Lord, who is he that shall ascend unto thy holy hill? and who shall rise up in thy holy place? even he that hath clean hands and a pure heart, and that hath not lift up his eyes unto vanity, nor sworn to deceive his neighbor." Without holiness, therefore, no man, either here or hereafter, shall see the Lord. Not here; for it is not more true that God is of too pure eyes to look upon iniquity, than that iniquity is of too weak eyes to look upon God. "I heard thy voice in the garden," said Adam, " and I hid myself, for I was afraid:" the wicked cannot hide their sins amidst the trees of the garden, but they will try to hide themselves. Not hereafter; for, to be able to see God, to pierce through the dim opaque of nature and of sense, to penetrate, with eagle vision, the regions of light unapproachable, is a priv. ilege which God hath reserved exclusively for those who are "washed

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