Acts 24:24
There are two main points well worthy of attention.

I. AN ACT OF MORAL HEROISM PARTICULARLY RARE. Paul "reasoned of righteous- ness, continence, and judgment to come." It requires some courage for a man to address a company of his fellows, even when he feels sure that they will be sympathetic; it demands other and far higher courage to address a number of men, when it is certain they will be unsympathetic; but it requires higher devotedness still, it demands heroism of a rare order for one man to use the language of remonstrance and rebuke when speaking to another man, particularly when that other is the stronger and higher of the two. For the poor man, the captive, the accused, the one who stood absolutely in the other's power, to "reason of righteousness, continence, and judgment to come," to the unrighteous and dissolute judge, who had so much ground for dreading the future, - for Paul thus to expostulate with Felix was heroism itself. Let us thank God that he gave us such a man, to do such a work, at such a time in the history of our race. Let us emulate his spiritual nobility. High courage is, in part, a gift to be thankfully accepted; but it is also, in part, a grace to be studiously acquired. Paul was the faithful man he proved himself at Caesarea, not only because his Creator endowed him with a fearless spirit, but because

(1) he placed himself on the right side - on the side of truth, of righteousness, of God; and because

(2) he cultivated carefully the conviction that infinite power and love surrounded him with its constant care. He could always say, "The Lord stood by me." This is the secret of spiritual nobility, of moral heroism.

II. AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL FOLLY PAINFULLY COMMON. "Felix trembled." His agitation should have passed at once into resolution; he should have said at once, "I will return on my way; I will turn my back on my old sins; I will be a new man, living a new life." But he did not; he made terms with his old self; he temporized; he played with his opportunity; he resorted to evasion, to self-deception; he excused himself; he said, "Go thy way; when I have," etc. O well-worn, much-trodden path of self-excuse, along whose pleasant way such thousands of travelers have gone on to their ruin! This is how we commit spiritual suicide, how we go to our death! We do not say presumptuously, "I will not;' we say feebly, falsely, fatally, "I will soon," "I will when." There are three strong reasons against delay under religious conviction.

1. It is a guilty thing. We blame our children when they hesitate or linger instead of rendering prompt and unquestioning obedience; but we are more bound than they to implicit and unhesitating obedience to the Supreme. "I will when - "means "I will not now. It is rebelliousness of spirit put in the least flagrant form; but it is still rebellion; it is a state of sin.

2. It is a delusive thing. We defer, imagining that we shall find ourselves able and willing to do the right thing further on. But we have no right to reckon on this; for:

(1) Outward hindrances tend to become stronger rather than weaker. Life becomes more and more complicated, companions grow more numerous and urgent, difficulties and entanglements thicken, as our days go by; the hedge before us becomes thicker and higher continually.

(2) And inward and spiritual obstacles become more difficult to surmount; the habit of the soul today is the finest silken thread which the child's finger may snap, but it will shortly become the strong cable which the giant's strength will be unable to divide. Well does Scripture speak of the deceitfulness of sin."

3. It is a fatal thing. If vice has slain its thousands, and pride its thousands, surely procrastination has slain its tens of thousands. The man who is consciously and determinately refusing to serve God knows where he stands and what he is; he knows that he is a rebel against God, standing on perilous ground. But he who thinks he is about to enter the kingdom, or even dreams of so doing, shelters himself under the cover of his imaginary submission, and goes on and on, until sinful habit has him in its iron chain, or until "pale-faced Death" knocks at his door, and he is found unready.

"Oh, 'tis a mournful story,
Thus on the ear of pensive eve to tell,
Of morning's firm resolve the vanished glory,
Hope's honey left to wither in the cell,
And plants of mercy dead that might have bloomed so well." C.

And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla...he sent for Paul and heard him.
When Herod Agrippa I died at Caesarea (Acts 12:23), he left behind him a son and three daughters as heirs of the ancestral name and virtues. The son was the Agrippa of chaps, 25, 26, then a handsome and accomplished youth of seventeen, detained at Rome by Claudius. The girls were Berenice (sixteen), Mariamne (ten), and little Drusilla, only six years of age. Pitiful to think of them! — heiresses of such a name, station, temptations, personal beauty and fascination of manner, and ungovernable passions! It was quite consistent with the traditions of the Herod family that Berenice should, while still a girl in her teens, be given in marriage to her uncle Herod of Chaleis, old enough to be her father. At twenty, a widow with two children, she came to Rome to the house of her brother; and there was nothing, either in his character or in hers to prevent horrible suspicions of them from being entertained in the society and the literature of the capital. To avert scandal, she was married to Polerno, a petty king in Asia Minor, whom she soon deserted, and returned to the society of Agrippa, at his two seats, in Caesarea Philippi and Jerusalem. A dozen years after the hearing before Festus, when more than forty-two, twice a widow, and of infamous reputation, her fascinations had so captivated the heart of Titus that he was hardly dissuaded by the indignant clamours of the Romans from making her empress. The story of Mariamne, the second sister, is happily brief and uneventful. But here is this poor little Drusilla, named for her father's old friend at court, Drusus, son of Tiberius. At the time when her brother set up business as king on a small scale at Caesarea Philippi, she, only fifteen, and a famous beauty, is married to Aziz, another little king, lording it at Hamath, a few days' journey to the north. And now, to bring in another character, we go back to Rome, to the year 44, with which we started. The back stairs influence of the palace was in the hands of two smart, capable brothers, by the names of Pallas and Felix. They had been, several years before, purchased by Antonia, mother of Claudius. Pallas became her confidential servant, and by and by the brothers received from her their freedom. At her death they transferred their services to her son, to whom they succeeded in making themselves indispensable. Pallas became a sort of major domo on the Palatine hill; and Felix (who took the name of Claudius out of compliment to the emperor) had rapid promotion in the army. In 52 a delegation of Jews arrived with a most grave complaint against the wretched administration of Cumanus, governor of Judaea. Naturally they took counsel at once with young Agrippa, and they drew Pallas into their interest by proposing to petition the emperor to give the governorship to Felix; and so the former house servant of the dowager Antonia became the procurator of Judaea. His administration was worthy of his antecedents. "With all manner of ferocity and lust," says a famous sentence of Tacitus, "he wielded the power of a king with the temper of a slave." He had no scruple against employing the basest treachery against public or private enemies. The upright Jonathan, to whom he owed his office, ventured to "reason with him of righteousness," and he hired assassins to murder him. The last public service which he had rendered just before the arrest of Paul was in the case of an Egyptian leader of "four thousand men who were robbers" (sicarii, dagger men). He dispersed the banditti; but "that Egyptian" had escaped, and they were looking for him. Felix had been about a year in his government, when young Agrippa came to be his next neighbour — a delightful accession to the provincial society, especially when the house of Agrippa was enlivened by the visits of the youthful and beautiful Queen of Hamath! It was not unreasonable in the libidinous old slave (he must have been well advanced towards sixty) to mistrust the power of his personal fascinations; and in looking for some ally in his criminal design, he found, all ready to his hand, a certain magician named Simon, in whom we recognise our old acquaintance Simon Magus. This appropriate agent plied his arts of seduction to such purpose on the young bride, that she abandoned her husband, and gave herself to be the so-called wife of the mean and servile old debauchee at Caesarea. This act of the drama fits closely with the death of the deserted husband, Aziz, a few months later, at his desolated palace between the ranges of Lebanon. Whether he died of a broken heart or not we can only conjecture. Such was the pair before whom, invited to give them a private conference on the subject of faith in Christ, Paul "reasoned of justice and continence and coming judgment." Caesarea, a seaport town with a population divided between Jews and Gentiles, was liable to furious outbreaks between the parties. One such took place towards the end of Paul's two years' imprisonment, when Felix filled up the measure of his iniquities. There went up to Rome complaints that he had not only caused wanton slaughter, but had used his opportunity for private plunder. He had considered himself safe in any crime, it was said, so long as his brother Pallas continued near the ear of Nero. But this time he had ventured too far. To the inexpressible relief of the Jewish people, in 60 he was recalled to Rome; whither he promptly departed, accompanied by Drusilla, and by Simon Magus (as a sort of domestic chaplain), and followed by a deputation of Jews to prosecute him. The prosecution succeeded so far as to compel him to disgorge much of his plunder; but the influence of Pallas screened him from severer punishment. Felix and Drusilla both vanish out of history at this point, and Felix never appears again. But about nineteen years afterwards we get a glimpse of a faded beauty of forty years haunting the voluptuous Roman watering places by the Bay of Naples, in whom we may not easily recognise the little Drusilla. In her company is her grown-up boy, Agrippa. It seems as if the world were threatened with the infestation of yet another generation of the accursed race of Herod. But God is merciful. The awful eruption of Vesuvius that overwhelmed Pompeii amid its debaucheries blessed mankind by burying beneath the storm of suffocating ashes the princess Drusilla and her only child. Many have seen, among the remains of that great catastrophe, the perfect contour of a woman's form moulded in the ashen soil, within which the flesh had withered away and perished, and the skeleton had fallen bone from bone. It needs no wild effort of the fancy to imagine, as we look on these sorrowful relics, that we are in presence of what remains of the beautiful and guilty princess of the royal house of Herod.

(L. W. Bacon, D. D.)

I. THE PREACHER. "Paul." Faithful, fearless, sympathetic, uncompromising, heroic. A man unsurpassed in native and acquired ability, and a match for the proudest philosopher of his day. Here he stands before us with the enemy at bay, and the world beneath his feet; a conqueror, not a captive. Though his limbs were manacled, his spirit revelled in a liberty which no prison walls could circumscribe.

II. THE HEARERS. "Felix and Drusilla."

1. Officially high. Felix was governor of Judaea.

2. Socially great. In those days, as well as now, money or office cleared a man's social standing ground, and without inquest for character, or intelligence, he was admitted into the best society.

3. Morally corrupt. There are few crimes of which Felix had not been guilty. Drusilla was no better.

4. In reputation bad. With the stains of cruelty, robbery, adultery and murder upon them, their reputation grew worse and worse, until driven from the country into exile and disgrace.


1. Its style. "He reasoned." Christianity thrives best in the unclouded light of reason, and has nothing to fear from the merciless rigours of logic.

2. Its divisions.(1) Righteousness. Justice, in the broad sense of rendering to all their due. Right with God above, and fellowman below; right everywhere and always.(2) "Temperance" — not merely total abstinence from intoxicants, but the right control of the whole man, with special reference to chastity.(3) "Judgment." That great day when Felix shall be like Paul; when all earthly distinctions shall vanish, and only moral character shall avail. What a mere child Felix must have felt himself to be in the grip of this iron-bound free man! It will be seen that this discourse was —





IV. THE EFFECT. "Felix trembled." Gospel preaching is Divinely intended to —

1. Convince the intellect;

2. Stir the sensibilities;

3. Affect the will.There is in every man the instinct of retribution, and ever and anon the imagination comes flying back from the future pale with the tidings it brings; and from before these spectres the mind recoils and the knees smite together.

V. THE FAILURE. "Go thy way." He was powerfully moved; he felt a great crisis was upon him. Why did he not yield? Indisposition to stop sinning was the cause. So is it always. Drusilla was the stumbling block.

(T. Kelly.)

The Lay Preacher.
Learn —

I. THE POSSIBILITY OF HEARING THE GOSPEL FROM WRONG MOTIVES (ver. 24). Felix sent for Paul, not from a sincere desire to know the truth, but to gratify his own whims. We hear the gospel from wrong motives —

1. When we regard it as a pleasing change in the daily routine of life. It afforded diversion for Felix and Drusilla.

2. When we hear it from interest or curiosity in the preacher, or service, or subject.

3. From a desire to please or oblige others.

4. From self-interest. Felix looked for ransom money (ver. 26).

5. From a false conception of the gospel, as moderating the severity of the law, and giving license to sin.

II. THE POSSIBILITY OF HEARING THE GOSPEL FROM WRONG MOTIVES DEMANDS THE UTMOST FAITHFULNESS OF THE PREACHER. Paul knew the character of his audience, and saw the vast importance of the opportunity. He reasoned of —

1. "Righteousness" to the venal judge — a man on whose favour he was humanly dependent, but whom faithfulness will not permit him to flatter.

2. "Temperance" — soberness, chastity, to this immoral pair.

3. "Judgment to come" — to the unrighteous judge.

III. FAITHFULNESS IN THE PREACHER WILL CERTAINLY BE INFLUENTIAL. "Felix trembled." He had not expected such a discourse, and never before heard such, particularly from the lips of a prisoner.

1. His conscience was aroused. He trembled — a proof that there was something good in him that felt itself drawn by the good. There is hope in such cases, if the conscience stricken will put forth suitable effort.

2. The power of God's Word was vindicated (Psalm 119:120; Hebrews 4:12, 13).

IV. THE UTMOST FAITHFULNESS MAY FAIL OF ABSOLUTE SUCCESS. "Go thy way." How hard to break away from sin! He hesitated — postponed — and was lost. Felix is a sad representation of many hearers.

1. He trembled.

2. And yet he remained as he was.

(The Lay Preacher.)

At the beginning of this interview Paul stood a captive before Felix, but at the close Felix stood a moral captive before Paul. The world rests its success upon men; God rests the foundation of His kingdom on the truth. It was not Paul who made Felix tremble, but rather truth blazing in the apostle's words. In connection with this, observe —

I. THE POWER OF TRUTH IN STATEMENT APART FROM PERSONAL EXAMPLE. There is a marvellous force in words, even apart from the person who uses them. Every man's life tends to strengthen or weaken that force, but cannot destroy it. Paul's example, of course, was a tremendous power, but he stood before Felix a stranger, and it was while he reasoned on the faith in Christ that Felix trembled.

II. THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH AND FAITH. It is not needful that we seek out the reason of Felix sending for Paul. He had doubtless anticipated a pleasure in hearing what this Nazarene had done, when Paul confronted him with the fact that faith in Christ always includes the human conscience. "What shall I do to be saved?" asked the jailer of the same apostle. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," was his answer; and his exposition of the same Christian faith to the other who had summoned him from a dungeon included the golden rule, the Sermon on the Mount, and the preparation for the Judgment Day, all put into practice. A light thing to believe — a light thing to have faith in Christ! Not that — not so thought Felix. Faith means the human choices and the deeds that shall be sealed in the presence of God.

III. MAN'S TRUE NATURE IS SUBSERVED BY THE TRUTH. Godlessness is the dwarfing of man's nobler nature; impurity is poison. Against this place the faith in Christ, which includes righteousness and purity, and the preparation for the right account, and we have what man needs. Paul made known to Felix the one thing needful. The whole aim of revealed truth is to develop in man his nobler nature. We need God, and all other blessings such as we need will come.

IV. THE REJECTION OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH IS SIN AGAINST SELF. If the acceptance of revealed truth is what we need, then to slight it is self-infliction of a personal injury. Eternal punishment means eternal sin. The judgment day book on which God writes retribution is man himself, or, rather, God seals what man has written on his own heart. If the worm keeps boring at the root of the tree, the leaves will soon fade and the tree die. If the rats keep gnawing on the plank, the music of the waters outside will be ended in the sound of despair. If the canker keeps on eating, it reaches the vitals soon. Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death upon the sinner — this is the eternal law, a law no man can set aside.

V. DELAY IS CONFESSION. "Go thy way for this time," means a recognition of the truth in what has been said. Putting off duty is confession of duty — duty deferred. The excuse simply declares a love for sin — an unwillingness to give it up. Paul found it convenient to drag his chains into Felix's presence to testify of his hope. What if Paul had said, "When I have a convenient season I will obey!"

(D. O. Mears, D. D.)


1. Righteousness. Nothing could be more appropriate in respectfully addressing one appointed to administer justice, or be more likely to arrest the attention of one so venal as Felix. It would embrace the nature and the requirements of justice in the relations which man sustains to his fellow men; and it would, at the same time, lead the mind up to justice in the higher sense — in that which pertains to God and to His administration.

2. Temperance. The power of self-restraint, self-government. This topic, too, was eminently appropriate. Not indeed an intemperate man in the modern sense, he yet had not the corrupt propensities of his nature under control, and gave free indulgence to carnal appetites.

3. Judgment to come. Addressing wicked man, who must, like other men, soon appear before the bar of his Maker, it was eminently proper that this should be a prominent topic. And these are proper topics for preaching anywhere and everywhere.


1. All men are aware that, when nature acts freely, there are certain marks of conscious guilt which convey to those around us the knowledge of that which is passing within. The blush, the paleness of the cheek, the averted eye; a trembling and agitated frame; a restless, suspicious, fearful look, are marks of what is within. They cannot be transferred to another kind of conduct — to the consciousness of a noble deed; to purity of purpose.

2. The design of this arrangement, as a part of our constitution, it is not difficult to understand.(1) No one can explain it except on the supposition that there is a God, and that He rules over mankind.(2) It is an arrangement designed to reveal or disclose the knowledge of our sin to others. The trembling of Felix could not be misunderstood. He would not have trembled if he had not been conscious that he had lived in violation of "righteousness" and "temperance," and had reason to look with apprehension to a "judgment to come."(3) The arrangement is designed, not only to put others on their guard, but also to restrain us from the commission of sin and to secure the reformation of the guilty, and to lead them to "flee from the wrath to come." Thus the jailer at Philippi trembled; thus Felix trembled; and thus the sinner now trembles at the prospect of impending judgment. And he is the most successful preacher who is most able to produce this consciousness of guilt.

III. IN WHAT MANNER ARE THESE IMPRESSIONS OFTEN MET AND WARDED OFF? Felix "trembled," but he did not yield. The jailer at Philippi "trembled," and yielded. The original Greek is, "Taking time, I will call for thee"; that is, I have it not now; I will secure it at some future period. So men, engaged in the world, plead that they have not time to attend to the matter now. So the young delay the subject to a future period, when it will be more suitable than at present. So the gay and thoughtless ask for delay with a promise or a hope that the time will come when religion will be more appropriate, and when — the pleasures of life past — they may find leisure to prepare to die. I do not say that the purpose to attend to it is never carried out. Felix found time to consider the subject, for he "sent for Paul often." It is not for us to say that a man who has neglected a present opportunity of salvation never is or can be saved. But that it may be the last opportunity no one can doubt; for death may be near.

(A. Barnes, D. D.)

In this incident we see —


1. Felix trembled, which was good as far as it went, and was infinitely better than insensibility, flippancy, infidelity, or obstinacy. It is the first step in a new direction — if the next is taken.

2. Felix trembled under a genuine conviction that Paul was right, and the trembling shows a momentary desire to put himself in the right.


1. Felix was animated with a strong desire to release Paul. He liked the man and knew that justice was on his side. What better sign than a desire to be of service to a good man.

2. But Felix sought to compass his desire in a wrong way. Why not say that the case against him had broken down, and that his right to be released must be recognised. But no; Felix's cupidity was stronger than his amiable desires and his sense of justice. He would do good if bribed to do it. The apostle tells us that their condemnation is just who do evil that good may come.


1. Felix communed with Paul. If evil communications corrupt good manners, how much must good communications improve them. A man is known by the company he keeps, and to exchange the company of Drusilla for that of Paul — what a hopeful sign.

2. But why did Felix commune with Paul? To get money out of him — the reason why many a wolf puts on sheep's clothing, and why many worldly and wicked men attend Church.

IV. BAD CONDUCT FROM A BAD MOTIVE. The true man comes out at last.

1. Bad in conduct. He left Paul bound — in spite of spiritual convictions, sense of justice, communings.

2. Bad in motive. "Willing to show the Jews a pleasure." Conclusion: "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." The man who begins to try to do so ends by wholesale service of the latter.

(J. W. Burn.)

(text and Acts 16:27-31): — Let us mark —


1. They were wicked men when the apostle became acquainted with them.

2. They were hearers of the gospel. Ungodly though they were, they did not refuse to hear God's Word. This was well. Gospel was and is the very thing for sinners. "I came not to call the righteous," says the Saviour, "but sinners to repentance."

3. They had a desire to know the gospel. This was a farther step. The gospel is, to many of its so-called hearers, an object of complete indifference.

4. They trembled from spiritual conviction.

5. They were delivered from their fears. Before the night had passed the jailer was rejoicing with all his house; and Felix did not tremble long. Thus far the cases correspond and have a hopeful aspect.

II. THE POINTS OF CONTRAST. They differed as to —

1. The motives which induced them to hear the gospel. The jailer's motive was anxiety to be saved. Did Felix ever ask, "What must I do to be saved?" Never. Curiosity to hear of the new faith from so famous a teacher may have had an influence. But venality was at the bottom of what he did. He wanted a bribe, and he became a gospel hearer, to give Paul opportunity and encouragement to offer it. Here our thoughts naturally turn to the motives by which people are induced to hear the gospel among ourselves. Remove from our congregations all those who come to gratify an idle curiosity — all who come to acquire a name of respectability, by which their temporal interests may be served — and all who come without any anxious desire to be saved, and how many will remain?

2. As to the nature of their convictions. Both were in deep alarm. Felix saw that God would punish sin. But that was all. He did not see that God was just in doing so. His heart clung to sin, while his spirit was quaking at the thought of the Almighty wrath to which sin exposed him. The jailer saw whence the danger came, and what it was that had brought him to the brink of perdition; that it was sin that was his enemy, rather than God.

3. As to the tendency of their convictions. Felix trembled and Bent Paul away; turned his back upon God's ordinance of preaching, and rejected the instrumentality that might have led to the salvation of his soul. The jailer trembled to better purpose. His convictions brought him to the apostle's feet. Hearers of the Word! are any of you awakened? Do not turn your back upon the ordinances that have disturbed your slumbers. This difference farther appears with regard to sin. The convictions of Felix produced no change upon his life; but the jailer became a new man.

4. As to the issue of their convictions. The heart of Felix was hardened; the jailer's was broken.

5. In the mode of deliverance from their fears. The fears of Felix were overcome by unbelief: those of the jailer were banished by faith.

6. In important particulars of their conduct.(1) In their treatment of the gospel. The jailer embraced it; Felix rejected it.(2) In their treatment of Christ. Christ stood at the door and knocked. Felix answered not, and showed a desire to be let alone, and that Christ should not knock again. Far other entertainment was given by the jailer. He received the Saviour without delay.(3) In their treatment of the servants of Christ. Felix sought to turn Paul to account, and, failing in that, he persecuted him to get popularity with his enemies. The jailer honoured Paul and Silas, did what he could to lessen their sufferings, and supplied their temporal wants.

7. In fine, if Felix died as he lived, which we have no reason to doubt, there is a crowning difference now. The terrors of Felix have returned; the jailer is with Jesus in paradise, awaiting the redemption of the body.

(Andrew Gray.)

We have often seen Paul in public; we have now to study somewhat his private ministry. It is easier to speak upon Mars' hill to a great crowd than to speak in a gilded chamber to two eminent personages. Will Paul be the same man in both places? Look at the case in detail.

I. THE AUDITORS ARE GREAT PEOPLE, YET THE GOSPEL DOES NOT SPARE THEM. Here is the true apostle face to face with evil; he smites it with both hands alone. These are the instances that commend the gospel to our confidence. We cannot dwell too long, too gratefully, upon the moral dignity of this gospel. There is no greatness before it. Because the gospel speaks in this tone it lives forever.

II. THE AUDITORS WERE BUT TWO IN NUMBER, YET THE GOSPEL SOUGHT TO SAVE THEM. When Christianity takes the census it counts every man one, and says to despairing preachers, "Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death." Christianity despises no one. Other religions go by numbers; the individual life is a fleck, a drop of a bucket. But the religion of Jesus Christ having found that one of the lambs has gone astray, will neither eat, nor drink, nor sleep, until the wanderer is back again. So, every man is a congregation. Earnestness can always speak to the individual. If one soul is within ear shot, he constitutes the supreme occasion of any ministry. Jesus often spoke to the one hearer and made revelations to individual hearers greater than any he ever made to the crowd.

III. THE AUDITORS ASKED FOR ENTERTAINMENT; YET THE GOSPEL GAVE THEM JUDGMENT. The gospel has no entertainments. Felix cared nothing for the faith in Christ himself, for he was a Roman; but Drusilla was a Jewess, and had heard of Jesus of Nazareth, and would hear somewhat of her eccentric compatriot. So we become interested in certain sides and aspects of questions. Drusilla could have no interest in the spiritual Christ; but she had intellectual interest, or the interest of curiosity in the historical magician, the prince of the wonder workers. Paul was an expert, a devotee; he would know about the whole case and would be able to explain it, and now he was at liberty to tell the tale. "And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment." Is that the faith that is in Christ? Is that Christian preaching? Verily; and the preaching we want every day. Men are delighted with high theological cobweb speculation, and call it marvellous. It is not Christian preaching. The true preaching makes the robber empty his pockets, makes the bad man white with inward accusation, makes the oppressor turn uneasily on his seat as if he were sitting on thorns and fire, turns the bad man mad, and makes him say foamingly at the church door that he will never come back again. The audience should always suggest the subject. This was Paul's method, and was the invariable method of Jesus Christ Himself. The audience is the text; this is where our speakers fail so much. What do our hearers want with speculations they cannot follow, with dreams they never heard of? He who would preach to the times must preach to the broken-heartedness of the day, to the criminality of the hour, to the inconstancy of the times, to the disloyalty of the army. This advice will never make popular preachers: it will make Pauline preachers. May the Lord of the harvest thrust into His harvest field many such preachers! We are not sent to make theologians, but Christians; we are not sent to build up a system, but to build up a character.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

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