Acts 24:25
As Paul expounded on righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, "You may go for now. When I find the time, I will call for you."
Sermons
Convenient SeasonsR. Tuck Acts 24:25
Delay in ReligionB. Beddome, M. A.Acts 24:25
Delay of RepentanceS. MacGill, D. D.Acts 24:25
Delay: Reasons ForT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Acts 24:25
Destructive SedativesDora Hope.Acts 24:25
Fatal ProcrastinationW. Ross.Acts 24:25
Felix Before PaulAlexander MaclarenActs 24:25
Frivolities Render Men Callous to the GospelC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 24:25
Now, Now! -- not by and ByA. Maclaren, D. D.Acts 24:25
Of the Universal Sense of Good and EvilJames Foster.Acts 24:25
Ordered Back to the Guard RoomT. De Witt Talmage, D. D.Acts 24:25
Paul and FelixCharles KingsleyActs 24:25
Paul Preaching Before FelixH. Melvill, B. D.Acts 24:25
Paul's Reasoning Before FelixW. Auld, jun.Acts 24:25
Paul's ReasoningsW. H. Aitken, M. A.Acts 24:25
Paul's Sermon Before FelixC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 24:25
ProcrastinationJ. M. Sherwood, D. D.Acts 24:25
ProcrastinationD. L. Moody.Acts 24:25
ProcrastinationD. Matheson.Acts 24:25
Procrastination in RussiaMackenzie Wallace.Acts 24:25
Ruinous AdjournmentT. De Witt Talmage.Acts 24:25
Self-Interest Rebukes IndecisionActs 24:25
The Awakening of ConscienceW. Denton.Acts 24:25
The Convenient SeasonArthur Mursell.Acts 24:25
The Convenient SeasonH. C. Trumbull, D. D.Acts 24:25
The Convenient SeasonLeonhard and Speigelhauer.Acts 24:25
The Danger of Delay in Religious DecisionG. P. Thwing.Acts 24:25
The Sinful DismissalCongregational PulpitActs 24:25
Too LateH. R. Burton.Acts 24:25
Trembling FelixActs 24:25
Uncertain of TomorrowActs 24:25
Malice, Innocence, and PowerW. Clarkson Acts 24:1-23, 26, 27
The Character of Felix in the Light of ChristianityR.A. Redford Acts 24:22-27
Felix and DrusillaL. W. Bacon, D. D.Acts 24:24-25
Felix and the JailerAndrew Gray.Acts 24:24-25
Felix, a Mixed CharacterJ. W. Burn.Acts 24:24-25
Paul Before FelixT. Kelly.Acts 24:24-25
Paul Before FelixThe Lay PreacherActs 24:24-25
Paul Before FelixD. O. Mears, D. D.Acts 24:24-25
Paul Before FelixA. Barnes, D. D.Acts 24:24-25
Paul's Private SpeechJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 24:24-25
Rare Heroism and Common FollyW. Clarkson Acts 24:24, 25
The Highest Powers Eluded by the Heart's SubterfugesP.C. Barker Acts 24:24, 25
The Substance of the Faith in ChristR. Tuck Acts 24:24, 25
The Divine Word and the ConscienceE. Johnson Acts 24:24-27
This familiar topic needs but a brief outline. Procrastination is one of man's chief perils. It is the "thief of time," the "delusion of the evil one." No man has any "by-and-by," any "tomorrow" to which he can trust. "Now" is our accepted time, our day of salvation. A man has nothing but the passing moment; yet he comfortably shifts off the duty of today by the vain fancy that it can be done to-morrow. "Felix is the type of the millions whose spiritual life is ruined by procrastination." Philip Henry says, "The devil cozens us out of all our time by cozening us out of the present time." Archias, a supreme magistrate of the city of Thebes, was seated at a feast, surrounded by his friends, when a courier arrived in great haste, with letters containing an account of a conspiracy formed against him. "My lord," said the messenger," the person who wrote these letters conjures you to read them immediately, being serious things." "Serious things to-morrow," replied Archias, laughing, and then put the letters under his pillow. This delay was fatal. The conspirators that evening rushed into the banqueting-room, and put the careless Archias, with all his guests, to the sword.

I. CONVENIENT SEASONS MAY EXCUSE DELAY. Better opportunities always seem to be away in the future. The pressure of daily business or daily pleasure will surely be lightened some day. We all have our eye upon some distant time when we mean to be in earnest about religion, and our sincere intent excuses our present delay.

II. CONVENIENT SEASONS MAY EASE THE CONSCIENCE. This is what we have in the case of Felix. He was smitten, but was purposed not to yield, so quieted conscience with a vague promise.

III. CONVENIENT SEASONS MAY NEVER COME. They seldom do. Press that the only convenient seasons for us are just those in which God brings home to our souls his truth, and urges us to its acceptance. Could Felix only have seen it, the most convenient season for him was the hour when Paul urged upon him the "faith in Christ." - R.T.







And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and Judgment to come, Felix trembled.
Consider —

I. THE MANNER OF PAUL'S PREACHING. He did not utter dogmatic assertions nor deal in vague declamation, in airy speculation which might please but not profit, in the artifices of rhetoric in order to produce effect.

1. He addressed man as a rational being; his great object was to enlighten the mind and carry conviction to the judgment. True, until the heart be moved no good can be done. But as in nature, so also it is in grace — light must first be created. It would be like tracing figures on the sand, to be effaced by the returning wave, if we excited the feelings of the heart without having beforehand imparted knowledge to the head.

2. "He reasoned." But "What," asks the infidel, "is there in the Christian religion to reason about? It is the religion of babes, not of men." True our religion is fitted for babes; and it is its greatest glory that "a wayfaring man, though a fool, shall not err therein." But this is also as true, that among its disciples it tells of a Locke, a Newton, and a Bacon. And on what occasion did ever Christianity shrink back from inquiry?

3. "He reasoned." He did not leave the individual, as the saying is, "in the hands of God." On the contrary, he bent his whole soul to produce conviction and conversion in the mind of Felix.

II. THE TOPICS OF WHICH HE THUS PREACHED. Faith and practice; and what God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

1. "He spake concerning the faith in Christ."

2. "He reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come."

III. THE EFFECT WHICH THIS SERMON PRODUCED.

1. That sermon is worthless which does not reach the heart; and that heart must have been hard indeed that could have withstood the reasoning of an inspired apostle and on such important subjects. Felix felt, not grief for sin, only terror on account of its punishment. The apostle had entered with the candle of the Lord into the recesses of his bosom, and disclosed all those images of wickedness which, with all the cowardice of conscious guilt, Felix had striven to conceal from himself. "He trembled," like the meanest criminal that ever stood at his own tribunal; like the benighted traveller, when all on a sudden the lightning discloses the awful precipice whose brink he is approaching; like the man under sentence of death, when in his cell at the midnight hour he hears the knocking of the hammer erecting the scaffold on which he is to die on the morrow: "he trembled" — like Belshazzar when he saw the handwriting on the wall that proclaimed his days to be numbered and his kingdom to be departed from him.

2. These impressions were the result of God's Spirit; but they were of short duration: like one suddenly awakened out of his sleep, he felt a moment's alarm, but he again folded his arms to slumber. Could the apostle have told him how he could be happy without requiring to be holy — how he might escape hell and enjoy earth — gladly would Felix have listened to his message. But since the apostle could preach no gospel but that which proclaimed salvation, not in sin, but from sin, Felix dismisses the preacher, but retains his Drusilla.

(W. Auld, jun.)

I. We learn from this history that THERE IS, EVEN IN THE WORST OF MEN, A NATURAL CONSCIENCE OF GOOD AND EVIL, which may be darkened, perverted, and very much defaced, but is hardly ever quite obliterated and lost. There are certain seasons, which check the insolence of the passions and dispose for gravity and consideration, in which it revives, and represents the malignity of irregular and vicious excesses in a clear and strong light.

II. We may observe from the text WHAT A MISERABLE THING IT IS TO HAVE A CONSCIENCE BURDENED WITH GUILT, IN THAT A MAN DARES NOT TRUST HIMSELF TO THINK FOR FEAR OF BEING ALARMED AND FILLED WITH TERROR AND CONFUSION. As long as, men are amused with company or engaged in a hurry of business, or can keep their passions inflamed and silence the voice of reason and natural conscience by a course of intemperance, they may continue stupid and insensible. But when anything happens that damps their gaiety, gives a shock to the mind, and puts them upon thinking, they are soon roused out of their lethargy and entertained with none but dark and gloomy prospects. And nothing, surely, can be a more perverted state of mankind than to derive all their relief, all their peace, from the suppression or extinction of reason. Besides, as guilt is such an enemy to consideration, there is this dreadful circumstance attending it farther to aggravate and enhance its misery, that it cuts off in a great measure the only possible means of the sinner's recovery.

III. It is a very natural inference from the text that INCULCATING THE GREAT DUTIES OF MORALITY AND ENFORCING THE PRACTICE OF THEM FROM A REGARD OF THE FUTURE JUDGMENT IS TRUE GOSPEL PREACHING, and answers in the most effectual manner the excellent design of Christianity. To preach Christ is universally allowed to be the duty of every Christian minister. But what does it mean? It is not to use His name as a charm, to work up our hearers to a warm pitch of enthusiasm, without any foundation of reason to support it. 'Tis not to encourage undue and presumptuous reliances on His merits and intercession, to the contempt of virtue and good works. No, but to represent Him as a Lawgiver as well as a Saviour, as a preacher of righteousness, as one who hath given us a most noble and complete system of morals enforced by the most substantial and worthy motives, and to show that the whole scheme of our redemption is a doctrine according to godliness.

IV. A SENSE OF GUILT MAKES THOSE THINGS THE OBJECTS OF AVERSION AND HORROR WHICH, NATURALLY, YIELD THE HIGHEST DELIGHT AND SATISFACTION. We have an instance in the text of one that was shocked at the strict obligations of justice, without which there can be no pleasure or convenience in human life, and the whole frame of civil societies must immediately be dissolved. It mortifies the epicure and the adulterer to be told of the rules of temperance and chastity, which are absolutely necessary to the health of our bodies, the rectitude and vigour of our minds, and the grand security of what is most dear and sacred to us; and the cruel and revengeful to hear of gentleness, beneficence, and the soft impressions of humanity, though they form the most excellent and amiable character we can possibly conceive of. In like manner, the future judgment of mankind is in itself far from being an object of terror; for that we are moral, accountable creatures is owing to our superior capacities, which are the distinguishing dignity of our nature; and nothing can be a more comfortable reflection to a well-disposed mind than that its integrity will be tried and rewarded by a Being of unerring wisdom, inflexible justice, and unlimited goodness. But to a guilty sinner this is so tremendous a scene, that the mere prospect of it fills him with agony and confusion. He does not consider it as honourable to human nature, because it threatens his vices; can't think of abiding by the sentence of unchangeable rectitude and infinite benevolence itself; and the sum of his wishes is to die like a brute. The future judgment is not revealed with a view to alarm and confound the mind, but to restrain those irregular practices which are the surest ground of melancholy suspicions and inward horror.

(James Foster.)

I. THE APPROPRIATE SERMON. I can conceive that Felix expected to have a grand disquisition upon some recondite themes of the gospel. This was not the place nor the time for that.

1. I can imagine how Paul would bring before the mind of Felix the widow who bad been defrauded of inheritance, the fatherless children who were left to beg their bread, the many bribes that he had taken, the false decisions that he had given.

2. Then gently turning to the other subject, I can imagine how he would fix his eyes upon Drusilla and bring the most powerful motives to bear upon her lascivious heart; and then turning to Felix, would remind him that adulterers have no inheritance in the kingdom of God.

3. I can conceive how Felix would bite his lips. Paul gave him no time for passion; for in a fury of impassioned eloquence he introduced the "judgment to come." He made Felix think he saw the great white throne, the books opened, and himself arraigned before his Judge; and what the apostle did every minister ought to do. He selected topics appropriate to his audience. But some will say, "Ministers ought not to be personal." Ministers will never be true to their Master till they are, I admire John Knox for going, Bible in hand, to Queen Mary, and sternly upbraiding her. I do not exactly love the way in which he did it, but the thing itself I love.

II. THE AFFECTED AUDIENCE. What is it that makes men tremble under the sound of the gospel? Some say it is their conscience. Doubtless it is in some sense. But I believe that what some people call natural conviction is the work of the Spirit. In some men's hearts He works with restraining grace, and the trembling of Felix is to be accounted for by this quickening his conscience and making him tremble. But what shall be said of some of you who never tremble?

III. THE LAMENTABLE DISAPPOINTMENT. "It is wonderful," said a good man once to a minister, "to see a whole congregation moved to tears by the preaching of the Word." "Yes," said that minister, "it is wonderful; but I know a wonder ten times greater, viz., that those people should so soon wipe away their tears and forget what they have beard." 'Tis wonderful that Felix trembled before Paul; 'tis more wonderful that Felix should say, "Go thy way." Stop, Felix; let Paul speak to thee a minute longer. Thou hast business; but hast thou no business for thy soul? Dost thou reply, "Nay, I must attend to Caesar." Ah! Felix, but thou hast a greater monarch than Caesar. I know what thou durst not say. Felix, thou art turning aside again to indulge in thy lascivious pleasures. Go, and Drusilla with thee! But stop! Darest thou do that, with that last word ringing in thy ears, "Judgment to come"? You, too, many of you, have often been impressed under the ministry, and on Monday you have said, "I must attend to business." Think of men that are dying every day, saying, "We must live," and forgetting that they must die! Another replies, "I must have a little more pleasure." What! can there be pleasure in turning suicide to thine own soul? But the usual reply is, "There is time enough yet." The young man says, "Let me alone till I grow old." And you old men, what do you say? "When do you hope to find a convenient season? The young may die, the old must! But still the common cry is, "There is time enough." What for? Surely you have spent time enough in sin? What! time enough to serve a God that laid down His life for you? No! eternity will not be too long to utter His praise. Thou sayest, "Another time." How knowest thou that thou wilt ever feel again as thou feelest now? This morning, perhaps, a voice is saying in thy heart, "Prepare to meet thy God." Tomorrow that voice may be hushed. How do you know that you shall live to be warned again? Oh! why will you then dare to procrastinate? Will your soul ever be saved by your saying, "Time enough yet"? Tillotson well says, "A man may say, 'I resolve to eat,' but the resolve to eat would never feed his body. A man might say, 'I am resolved to drink,' but the resolve to drink would never slake his thirst." And you may say, "I am resolved by and by to seek God," but your resolve will not save you.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Whatever may have been the motives of Felix and Drusilla, we have before us the singular fact that profligate persons, with not the smallest intention of forsaking their profligacy, could send for a preacher that he might preach to them concerning the faith in Christ. It is a fact which altogether forbids us inferring the piety of the multitude from the earnestness to which they flock to the preaching of the Word. What is there to assure us that in an assembly of eager and riveted listeners there may not now be the Felix and Drusilla, who associate themselves with the hearers of the gospel, and seem to take a deep interest in its announcements. It might well make us tremble to think what profligate characters may be found in the house of God, all apparently hearkening with the most earnest attention to what the preacher has to advance. Note —

I. THE TOPICS ON WHICH ST. PAUL EXPATIATED.

1. Although Felix had sent for Paul to hear about the faith in Christ, it was not concerning this faith that the apostle chiefly spoke; he rather dealt with topics which belong to natural as well as revealed religion. He knew that comparatively no moral advantage is obtained by prevailing upon men to take this or that tenet into their creed if they do not suffer it to be influential on their conduct; and therefore it was no object with him to get reception for fresh truths whilst he knew that there were old truths which, though theoretically acknowledged, were practically without power. Felix and Drusilla expected that the apostle would enter at once on controverted points and on some abstruse speculation which might engage the understanding but not touch the conscience. And if it were wisdom in the apostle thus to confine himself to the truths that were acknowledged by his hearers, and so to give them no opportunity to escape, must it not also be so in the modern preacher?

2. But it were unpardonable to speak of Paul's wisdom and overlook his intrepidity. Oh, for his spirit, that there might be no fear of men! The sin which is most likely to prevail in a congregation is the sin against which the preacher should direct most of his preaching. In this way he will be most likely to do good, though he be most likely to give offence; for the courtiers will sit most approvingly and contentedly whilst the vices of merchants are lashed, and merchants whilst those of courtiers; but once let the sermon have a marked reference to the audience, and there will be uneasiness, and in most cases displeasure.

II. THE EFFECT WHICH HIS SERMON PRODUCED. Of Drusilla you are told nothing. A woman, when she has abandoned herself to wickedness, is far harder to reclaim than man; and it may be proof of the truth of this remark that, whilst Felix trembled, Drusilla was unmoved. Probably he was surrounded by a princely retinue, and did he suffer soldiers and subjects to see him disconcerted by the insolence of a forward enthusiast? Ah! it is not in the pompous train or in armed battalions to give courage when the conscience is once roused. There is no cowardice like the cowardice of guilt, and no power like the power of truth. But, alas for Felix! in place of being moved by his fears in the immediate search after safety, he had recourse, with sinners of every age, to procrastination. He did not entreat the apostle to point out the way of escape, as he had pointed out the danger, but dismissed him. He did not deign to take no further care of the matter; he only deferred what by his trembling he had confessed it right in him to do. And he was not without an excuse. When was the sinner ever at a loss when his sins were to be palliated? He waited for a convenient season. It was not fitting to repent suddenly; there ought to be deliberation. He had, moreover, much business to attend to; he must put public affairs into a little better train, then would he be at leisure for the weighty duties of amendment. And did a convenient season come? Yes, he had many interviews with St. Paul, but with what object? Great God! is it possible! It had been whilst he disclaimed against extortion and avarice that Felix had shook with apprehension! And now this very Felix sends for the apostle, hoping to wring from him a bribe. We ask, Is this possible? Why not? The whole transaction is repeated in our own day, and amongst ourselves. Felix having by delay got quit of his fears, could look upon St. Paul merely as upon one likely to gratify his lust of money; and the man whom the preacher has once made to tremble, but who has crushed the conviction which had in it the germ of conversion, may afterwards look upon the preacher merely as upon one likely to gratify his love of excitement.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Our text brings before us a very extraordinary scene. The prisoner at the bar seems to be exercising the functions of prosecutor, witness, jury, and handing over his judge, as a condemned culprit, into the hands of the supreme Judge of all, while the judge is neither able to defend or excuse himself. It is not an unusual thing in criminal trials to see the prisoner trembling. Here is a prisoner for whom his judge has no terrors. It is not unusual to see a judge dignified and self-possessed, but here sits a poor trembling wretch on whom the words of the prisoner fall like a death sentence. At last he can stand it no longer. Why should he make himself miserable? If the arguments of the apostle could not be answered, at any rate he might be silenced. But I want to call your attention to the fact that what made Felix tremble was not an exhibition of impassioned rhetoric, but it was a solemn appeal to his reasoning faculties. I by no means disparage appeals to the feelings, inasmuch as we all have hearts, but the strength of these lies in the presence of an intellectual conviction affecting the conscience of those whom we address. I can imagine the governor, prepared to find his prisoner a half-crazy fanatic, commencing his inquiries, while a cynical smile played over his sinister countenance: "I understand, Paul, that you are an ardent adherent of one Christ. Can you now explain to me why you make so much ado about this person, who was executed as a common felon?" This gave St. Paul his opportunity. "In order that I may the better explain to you what Christ is to me, it will be expedient that I should first touch upon certain subjects connected with religion and morality, with respect to which we may probably be able to understand each other." So now it is necessary to form just opinions on those subjects, in order that we may be led to feel our need of Christ. Paul reasoned —

I. CONCERNING RIGHTEOUSNESS.

1. The word has its root in the word right. Righteousness springs from that great law of right which pervades all the relations of man to his Maker and to his fellow man. The recognition of these rights and the fulfilment of the claims which they carry with them is righteousness.(1) God has certain rights in us which we are bound to respect, and these arise out of the nature of our relations with Him.(a) We are taught that of Him, and by Him, and for Him are all things. He, as the Author of our being, has created us for His own purposes; and therefore we are under an obligation to respect His intentions in thus allowing us to enjoy it. Not to do this is to wrong God, to defraud Him of His rights in us, and thus to break the fundamental commandment of the law of righteousness.(b) As these claims of God are not arbitrarily imposed, so He cannot withdraw them. George III, when pressed by his prime minister to give his assent to a measure of which he did not approve, exclaimed, "I'll not sign it, Mr. Pitt; it goes against my conscience!" "Then, sir," replied his minister, "I have no course open to me but to resign." "Very good, Mr. Pitt, very good; you can resign if you like, but I can't." The story may serve to illustrate our present point God cannot resign.(c) As the result of the existence of these rights of God in us, He must needs claim it of us first, that we should make a full and willing surrender of ourselves to Him, to live for His glory and in accordance with His will; and secondly, He must needs claim it of us that we should abstain from anything that is opposed to His proper relations with us and His will concerning us.(2) We are also under a certain obligation to our fellow men. Remember that universal bond of brotherhood which pervades the human family, and gives man the claim of kinsmanship upon his fellow man throughout the world. Then think upon the debt that we owe to society. We owe it to society that we have been fed, clothed, housed, educated, trained, and surrounded with all the comforts of civilised existence. Man, next to God, has been our greatest benefactor, and therefore man has certain rights in us. To recognise and respect these is to fulfil the law of righteousness; to ignore these is to break it. I am bound by the debt I owe to my fellow to do what lies in my power to help and benefit him as occasion may offer, and to abstain from injuring him in any way, either morally, intellectually, or physically.

2. How much of the law of righteousness do most men seem to recognise? Only one part out of four. How common a thing it is when we press men about their spiritual condition to meet with the reply, "Well, I've never done any harm to anyone." Granted; does that mean that you have performed your positive or negative duty towards God? or that you have performed your positive duty to your fellow man? The words convey no such idea. The priest and Levite did no harm to the half-dead man, but they failed to do him any good; and you do not even affirm that you have lived to benefit your fellow man any more than they. What then? To put the thing in a familiar form: you pay, or think you pay, five shillings in the pound, and then claim a quittance of the whole debt. That would hardly pass muster in a London bankruptcy court; and can you think that such a composition will be accepted at the last great assize? And what if the five shillings proves to have been paid in base coin? How few of us are there that can truly affirm that we have done no harm to anyone? Where is the godless man that has not done some injury to those around him?

3. We are now in a position to judge ourselves as to whether we are righteous. Does our own heart condemn us? You can judge for yourselves whether it be possible that these claims can be either modified or withdrawn. If they cannot, then you will of necessity begin to feel your need of that which St. Paul found in Christ. When once his eyes had been opened to see what the claims of righteousness really were, and hence to discover his own unrighteousness, there was no rest for him until he had found a new and better righteousness in Christ Jesus.

II. CONCERNING TEMPERANCE. As righteousness has to do with the rights which others have in us, so temperance leads us to consider the rights which we have in ourselves. The word conveys the idea of self-mastery — capacity to govern oneself in accordance with the dictates of sound reason.

1. There are within our complex nature certain elements which are obviously designed to be supreme, while there are others that are intended to be subject to control. That this must be so is clear; for if every element within were to assert its own supremacy, our human nature would be like a house divided against itself. We may conclude with sufficient confidence —(1) That those are the higher elements in our nature, by the possession of which we are most distinguished from the lower animals; and just as the harmony of the outward world is maintained by man's supremacy over the brute, so the harmony of man's nature is to be preserved by the sovereignty of those elements which are distinctively human over those which we possess in common with the lower animals.(2) That those are the higher elements in our nature which are least dependent upon our material organism, but upon which it must depend for direction and control if our lives are to deserve the name of human.(3) That inasmuch as we were made in the image of God, the higher elements of our human nature are those which are most Godlike. As God maintains the harmony of the universe by asserting His own supremacy, so man can only hope for harmony in his own being when the God-like has chief sway within.

2. In the maintenance of this supremacy also lies the only security for our well-being, and even for our safety; for while God has made special provisions to prevent the lower animals from falling a prey to their own incontinence by establishing certain checks, He has not thus hedged round man. He is possessed of a moral freedom, and hence can either, by the right exercise of his faculties, rise to a higher level than the animal can aspire to or can sink to as much a lower level by their abuse. We do the animals an injustice when we speak, e.g., of the intemperate man as a drunken brute. Who ever knew of a brute that was of its own will drunken? So, then, there are certain faculties or elements of our nature which should be supreme, and others which should be under control. Where this order exists, there moral harmony ensues; and this is what we understand by temperance. When it is transgressed, moral anarchy must be the result; and this is what we understand by intemperance.

3. Man's moral nature may be compared to a commonwealth, in which there are ignorant and incapable multitudes who need to be governed with a view to their own good, and also intelligent and able men. who are fit to govern. Now it has sometimes happened that the supreme power has passed into the hands of an ignorant and fanatical mob, and then have followed the worst and most frightful forms of anarchy. Then, again, it has often happened that from amongst the mob there has arisen some single tyrant who, beginning with being the idol of the mob, has gone on to become its most ruthless enemy; and then sometimes follows the last woful sequel of this inversion of the proper order of things — invasion, a foreign thrall, followed ultimately by national extinction. So when these elements of our nature, which ought to be subject to control, are allowed by the frailty of our will to arrogate to themselves an authority to which they have no claim, man becomes subject to a sort of inward mob rule. Then it not unfrequently happens that from the general moral confusion there emerges into an unholy prominence some specific besetting sin which becomes a sort of tyrant, and brings all our powers and faculties under its own grim and terrible sway. Such a tyrant power is drunkenness, or lust, or avarice, when once it lays hold upon man's nature and becomes a confirmed habit. And this miserable condition invites hostile intervention from without. There is an enemy at the gates who finds our divided and self-betrayed nature at his mercy, and who can thus take possession of our being, and in the end, unless we are delivered out of his hands, procure our utter and irremediable ruin.

4. What hope is there under such circumstances that by the mere action of a will already enervated the captive can break his chains and set himself free?(1) Perhaps the answer may suggest itself, Surely the only chance for such a man lies in appealing to his own self-interest. Let him see that he is injuring himself, and he will most likely be disposed to gather up all his will power for a mighty effort against this tyrant yoke, and, thus reinforced, he may yet prevail. But those who speak thus do not make sufficient allowance for the bewildering influence which a corrupt moral condition exerts upon the understanding, nor for the actually blinding effect of passion. Look at that drunkard. There was a time when he possessed the affections of a devoted wife, a smiling home, a good reputation, and regular and remunerative employment. Look at him now. In his few lucid intervals he knows that he is destroying himself; but it makes no difference. Or take the case of the libertine, or the case of a man whose incontinence lies in his temper, his speech, or his avarice. They are not less obviously opposed to our personal interest. Or again, idleness, sluggishness, or moral cowardice are all alike clearly opposed to our well-being. No, it is easy to forge those chains for ourselves, but who can snap them? Our minds may be on the side of right, but what about that other law which holds its sway within our members?(2) No, if there be any help at all for the poor spellbound victim it must come from without. Ah! there is one in our midst today ready "to proclaim relief to the captives." Listen to the apostle: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death." Here is a new law — a law that belongs not to poor enslaved humanity, but to that mysterious and Divine Being who invades and takes possession of our humanity. Look at that balloon as it lies there uninflated; it is subject to the gravitating attraction of earth like any other object around. You may lift it up. for a moment by help of ropes and pulleys, but its rise is dependent upon your willpower, and as soon as this adventitious force is withdrawn it sinks again. But now fill it with hydrogen gas, and you introduce a substance of such relative gravity to the atmosphere that its law is to rise heavenward. Even so, you may lift your moral nature up, as it were by mere willpower, and anon, when the will ceases to be energetic, it sinks again; but let God the Holy Ghost enter the cleansed and consecrated nature, and at once we begin to rise in the moral scale higher and stilt higher to our proper level as heaven's free men. Years ago, when I had a parish in one of our largest towns, I became very much interested in a member of my congregation who was the victim of insobriety. Many and many were the pledges that he signed, but all seemed vain. We were having a very memorable season of spiritual visitation, and night after night this man attended the services, and wan deeply impressed. The last Sunday night arrived. At the close of his thrilling appeal Mr. Moody asked all present who would trust themselves to Christ then and there for salvation to rise and stand up before all while the Christians present were praying for them. At this moment a Christian worker, who was an old acquaintance of the man, saw his friend evidently in great anguish of soul. He crept up to him, and whispered in his ear, "Tom, my boy, why ar'n't you standing up?" "I can't, Jim; I have tried so often. I should only make a fool of the thing if I fell back again." "Tom, my dear fellow, now listen to me. You've prayed and made resolutions, signed pledges, and done everything except what you're asked to do now; that is, trust yourself entirely to Jesus. You've never done that." "You're right, Jim," said the other; "I have never done that. I will trust Him!" and with a sudden decision he rose to his feet; and he found Him trustworthy. From that moment the chain was broken; and five years after Tom passed away, falling asleep in Jesus.

III. CONCERNING JUDGMENT TO COME.

1. A belief in this may be regarded as a corollary to a belief in the existence of God Himself. If there be a Moral Governor of the universe, we cannot do otherwise than conclude that there is a judgment to come.(1) There is a very obvious inequality in the way in which punishments are meted out to transgressors in this life. Two persons commit the same sin; the one is detected, the other escapes detection, prospers in the world, and passes in society as a very respectable member of it. Or again, two persons commit the same sin of impurity. The one is a man of high social position and of great wealth; the other, perhaps, some unfortunate girl whose affections he has contrived to entangle. Compare the consequences in the two cases. The one is ruined for life, but the man who made her the thing she is passes himself off as a very respectable gentleman. Surely no man in his senses will say that in the two cases the punishments are equal.(2) But I can imagine someone rejoining, "What you say is all very true; but you must take into consideration the man's subjective penalty. The one offender may suffer more in his conscience than the other." Here again the answer is obvious. Is it the greatest sinner that is the greatest inward sufferer? Here are two persons who have both committed the same sin — the one for the first time in his life, the other for the nine hundred and ninety-ninth. Is it not too obvious to need to be stated that the sufferings of the hardened offender are as nothing compared with those induced by a first offence? Sin is not adequately punished by its outward results in this world; and it is not the greatest offender that suffers the most severe inward penalty. I remember once applying the argument in a homely way to a navvy. When I began to speak to him about his soul and the wisdom of beginning to think about his salvation, he broke out with, "Well now, look here, sir; I don't hold with you parsons. You talk about hell, and tell us that we're to be punished over there. Now, my idea is that we get knocked about in this life bad enough. I don't think a man will suffer all that here and then be damned afterwards." "Well," I said, "what do you expect to become of you when you die?" "Oh," he said, "I don't know I Maybe that will be the end of me. Anyhow, I don't see any reason why I should suffer more than I do down here." I replied, "Now I will put a case to you. Here is a man, we will suppose, under whom you work, who keeps you at it early and late. He grinds down your payment to the last sixpence; he gets out of you whatever he can, and gives you as little as he can in return. He drives in his carriage and pair, while you go on slaving away on wages that scarcely suffice to keep body and soul together. Money flows in on him; he is returned to Parliament. By and by he becomes My Lord So-and-so; and while he, hard-hearted tyrant as he is, lives in luxury, you still go on toiling and slaving away for him, at the slenderest possible remuneration, till after spending forty or fifty years in his service you die in poverty and are carried to a pauper's grave. Now, do you think it is likely if there be a God at all that you and he shall fare exactly alike in the next world?" "No, sir," said he, with considerable warmth; "if there's a God in heaven, he ought to suffer for it." His own common sense told him that if there were a Moral Governor of the universe He must lay a heavy hand in judgment upon the successful oppressor of the poor; and the common sense of all men is here on the side of religion.

2. Now, when I turn to revelation, I find not only the statement that there shall be such a judgment, but also indications of some of its more prominent characteristics.(1) It will be according to the deeds done in the body — not the professions made or the appearances exhibited.(2) It will be according to privilege. There are large numbers of persons who plume themselves on having been baptized; but the question is, Have you ever realised the spiritual benefit of which baptism is the symbol? Are you not aware that while that blessed ordinance increases your responsibility, it must also enhance your condemnation unless you respond to the obligations that it imposes? Or again, on the other hand, there are those who pride themselves upon being evangelical Christians and strong Protestants. But better far that you had been a heathen in Central Africa than a nominal Christian, familiar with evangelical doctrine, but a stranger to the power of Divine grace.(3) It will be according to the opportunities and possibilities which have fallen to our lot in life. To whom much has been given, of him much shall be required.(4) It will bring to light the secret things of darkness and reveal the counsels of every man's heart, and then shall everyone have praise (or blame) of God according as his life's work has been.(5) It will depend upon the presence or absence of our name in "the Lamb's Book of Life." What the specific penalty in each particular case may be I will not presume to say. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" I know that it will be exactly what the sin deserves, neither more nor less. Perhaps some of you are saying, "How shall I know that my name is written there?" That question is not hard to answer. If the Lamb's own life has been through faith received into your heart, you may be sure that your name is written in the pages of the Book of Life. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus."

(W. H. Aitken, M. A.)

I. THE NATURE OF THIS TREMBLING. We must distinguish between a sanctifying fear (Proverbs 16:6) which is a grace, an habitual disposition of the soul (Isaiah 66:2; Ezra 10:3), and the fear which only troubles us for the present.

1. Holy fear is a voluntary work excited by faith believing God's threatening, and by love which is troubled at the offences done to God. A fear like that of Felix is an involuntary impression arising from the spirit of bondage and irresistible conviction, which for a while puts its subjects into the stocks of conscience, but they seek to enlarge themselves as soon as they can.

2. They differ in their grounds. To be troubled for the offence done to God is a good sign, but to be troubled merely for the punishment due is the guise of hypocrites (Hebrews 12:17; Mark 10:22).

3. They differ in their effects. Sometimes —

(1)An anxiety about the way of salvation, and then it is good (Acts 2:37).

(2)Rage (Acts 7:54).

(3)Dilatory excuses, as here.

II. ITS CAUSE — the Word.

1. The matter.(1) Generally — the Word of God has a convincing power.

(a)Partly because of its Author, whose impress is on it (Hebrews 4:12).

(b)Partly because of its clearness to a natural conscience if it be not blinded (2 Corinthians 4:2-41).

(c)Chiefly because of the concomitant blessing (John 16:8; 2 Corinthians 4:6).(2) Particularly — the Day of Judgment. This was the apostle's great argument (Acts 10:42, 43; Acts 17:30, 31; 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11), because

(a)This made their access to the heart more easy because of its suitableness to natural light (Romans 1:32).

(b)This most befriends the great discovery of the gospel, justification and pardon through Christ, by submitting to His instruction. If He be our Judge we should take the law from His mouth.

(c)This best solves doubts about present providence (Ecclesiastes 8:4).

2. The manner. The Word must be applied —(1) Closely. Paul discoursed of virtues opposite to the vices with which Felix was blemished (Acts 2:36, 37). In the doctrine delivered we only bend the bow; in application we shoot at the mark.(2) Prudently. No charge is here made. Paul only presents the looking glass in which they can see themselves,

III. ITS EFFECTS. It may come to nothing through —

1. Levity (Hosea 6:4, cf. Proverbs 4:18).

2. Addictedness to lusts which is greater than affection to religion (Luke 8:14).

3. Unskilfulness in handling wounds of conscience.

(1)Some think they are never wounded enough; but it is not the depth of the wound, but the soundness of the cure that is to be regarded.

(2)Some heal their wounds slightly, skin them over while they fester within.

(3)Others dissemble till they prove deadly.

(4)Others run to a worldly cure, or by the din of business put off what they do not put away (Amos 6:3).

4. Want of God's grace, which is forfeited by those who have common helps.

(1)Some put away the Word (Acts 13:46).

(2)Some put away troubles of conscience (Genesis 6:3).

(3)Some lose all relish for good things and relapse into a carnal savour (Hebrews 6:3-4).

IV. USES.

1. Information. We learn —(1) The power of the Word. Consider Felix —

(a)An unbeliever.

(b)A judge who humbled under his prisoner. Outward disadvantages should not discourage us.

(c)A depraved man. We should despair of none.

(d)A man glutted with worldly happiness. The thoughts of the next world will sour all the sweets of this.(2) The profitableness of insisting on the Last Judgment as a means of persuasion. It is —

(a)Impartial (Revelation 20:12).

(b)Strict and just (Acts 17:31).

(c)Final.

(d)Every minute brings it nearer (James 5:9),(3) The soreness of a bad conscience.

(4)The necessity of strict obedience.

(5)The sottishness of those who are not moved so far as Felix was.

2. Caution.(1) Do not lose the advantage of this common work.(a) It may be lost partly by delays and dreams of a more convenient season (Luke 14:18), and partly by relapses into our old crimes, as here.(b) Reasons. It is very dangerous — iron often heated and quenched is the more hard (Proverbs 29:1). You lose the season wherein God will be found (Hebrews 3:7; 2 Corinthians 6:1, 2).(2) Do not rest in a common work that you hear the Word and are affected; Herod rejoiced, Felix trembled.

(T. Manton, D. D.)

Those who have seen Holman Hunt's picture of the "Awakened Conscience" will not soon forget it. There are only two figures — a man and a woman, sitting in a gaudily furnished room, beside a piano. His fingers are on the instrument, his face, which is reflected in a mirror, is handsome and vacant, evidently that of a man about town, who supposes that the brightest part of creation is intended to administer to his amusement. A music book on the floor is open at the words "Oft in the stilly night." That tune has struck some chord in his companion's heart. Her face of horror says what no language could say, "That tune has told me of other days when I was not as I am now." The tune has done what the best rules that were ever devised could not do. It has brought a message from a father's house.

(W. Denton.)

Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.
When Bonaparte put the Duke d'Enghien to death, all Paris felt so much horror at the event that the throne of the tyrant trembled under him. A counter revolution was expected, and would most probably have taken place, had not Bonaparte ordered a new ballet to be brought out, with the utmost splendour, at the Opera. The subject he pitched on was "Ossian, or the Bards." It is still recollected in Paris, as perhaps the grandest spectacle that had ever been exhibited there. The consequence was that the murder of the Duke d'Enghien was totally forgotten, and nothing but the new ballet was talked of. After this fashion Satan takes off men's thoughts from their sins, and drowns the din of their consciences. Lest they should rise in revolt against him, he gives them the lusts of the flesh, the vanities of pride, the cares of this world, or the merriment of fools, to lead away their thoughts. Poor silly men are ready enough for these misleading gaieties, and for the sake of them the solemnities of death and eternity are forgotten.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Congregational Pulpit.
I. A GUILTY REJECTION. "Go thy way."

1. Its reason.

(1)Because of faithful preaching.

(2)An accusing conscience — which many feel like Ahab and Herodias.

2. Its guilt.

(1)Because God sent the preacher.

(2)It was rejecting Christ.

(3)Resisting the Holy Ghost.

(4)Cleaving to Satan.

II. A PREVAILING TEMPTATION. "When I have a convenient season."

1. It supposes a more suitable time than the present. Though surrounded by religious privileges, numbers are ensnared.

2. It estimates religion as a secondary matter. Dreadful thought that religion should be set aside for earthly pleasures and profits — the poor trifles of a day!

III. A FATAL DELUSION. "I will call for thee." But did he? The delusion is apparent, inasmuch as —

1. Those who have stifled convictions are the most hardened — Noah's hearers, Sodom, and the Jews in our Lord's day.

2. No sinner will call for light unvisited by the Holy Spirit.

3. It is not certain that a future "call" will prevail.

(1)Means may not be at hand.

(2)Fear alone may rule in the heart.

(3)The insulted Spirit may have fled (Proverbs 1:28).

(Congregational Pulpit.)

Felix sent Paul back and adjourned the subject of religion because —

I. HE DID NOT WANT TO GIVE UP HIS SINS. There was Drusilla; if he became a Christian, he must send her back to Azizus, her lawful husband — the case with many practically today. Tonight, some of you will have to decide between unlawful amusements and eternal salvation. Delilah sheared the locks of Samson; Salome danced Herod into the pit; Drusilla blocked up the way to heaven for Felix; and unless some of you repent, you shall likewise perish. Yet I fear some of you will say, "Don't be so precipitate. I have a few tickets yet that I have to use. I have a few engagements that I must keep. Go thy way for this time." I know that it is easier when you are in a boat to pull with the stream, but what if, tonight, you should be within a few yards of the vortex? Turn your boat around, and, as with a death grip, pull for your eternal life, crying, "Lord, save me, I perish!"

II. HE WAS SO VERY BUSY. In ordinary times he found the affairs of state absorbing, but those were extraordinary times. The whole land was ripe for insurrection. And so some of you look upon your goods, profession, memorandum books, and you see the demands that are made upon your time, patience, and money, and while I am entreating you about your soul and the danger of procrastination, you say, "Go thy way for this time," etc. Oh, Felix, you might better postpone everything else, for do you not know that the upholstering of Tyrian purple in your palace will fade, and the marble blocks of Caesarea will crumble, but the redemption that Paul offers you will be forever? and yet you waive him back to the guard room.

III. HE COULD NOT GIVE UP THE HONOURS OF THE WORLD. He was afraid he would compromise himself. Yet what were those honours worth when in two short years they were torn from him, and when he disappeared covered with infamy? Conclusion: Have you never seen men waiting for a convenient season? I say to a boy, "Seek Christ." He says, "No; wait until I get to be a young man." I say to the young man, "Seek Christ." He says, "Wait until I come to mid-life." I meet the same person in mid-life, he says, "Wait until I get old." I meet the same person in old age, and he says, "Wait until I am on my dying bed." I am called to his dying couch; and yet he whispers, "I am — waiting — for — a more — convenient — season" — and he is gone! I can tell you when your convenient season will come. It is now. Do you ask me how I know this? I know it because you are here; and because the Holy Spirit is here; and because the people of God in this church are praying for you. Now is the best time, as it may be the only time.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

1. The man who does not listen to a strain of sweet music may be pardoned for not appreciating it; but the man who listens, only to respond with a shuffle, must be very cold and dull. Yet such seems to be the outrage which the man commits who interrupts the loving overture which calls him to the feast, with the earth-croak of his farm, his merchandise, his yoke of oxen, or his marriage peal. Felix is just in the same position as the people who made light of the call; that is, he is called to make up his mind concerning the same privileges. But he certainly is not so cold as those who make light of it or those who make excuse. They were more or less at ease, but Felix trembles. An uneasy conscience, however sad a thing, is more hopeful than placid deadness or blithe indifference. There is more chance for a man who is on the rack than for one who is dead. There is more hope of a man with the hot-ache than of one who is frozen. Here is a man trembling under the truth. Surely that is better than one who is callous to it or laughing at it. Still it is a condition eminently unsatisfactory. It is a shuffle after all, for it proceeds on a fallacy. The plea of convenience is a delusion. It is never convenient to cut off an arm or to pluck out an eye, and yet it may be imperative. To send away the messenger of truth, however painful the news he brings, will not change his tidings or alter the necessity of receiving it. When a man begins to tremble at his conscience, there is no convenient season for getting the trembling calmed; but there is one wise and sure season, and that is now.

2. We have sometimes heard this incident dealt with in a strain which has seemed to render but scant justice to Felix himself. The common way is to represent Felix as sending Paul away to get rid of him; that the convenient season never came; and that it was simply, "out of sight, out of mind." Then this is followed out into an analogy between sending away the messenger because the message is despised, and stifling conscience, resisting and grieving and quenching the Spirit. Now this (without qualification) amounts to an injustice, by putting a stern construction on his conduct when a milder one would be equally natural. It seems possible, and even probable, that his motive was that he might go away and reflect alone upon what he had heard, and seek further instruction when less excited and more able to appreciate it. And here we hit a blot upon the methods of some of our more zealous teachers. They are impatient of a calmness which may be more devout than mere excitement. They do not leave room for the exercise of the judgment. They reiterate the emphatic "now" with a passion which sometimes overacts itself. They cannot wait for the leaven to work. If a man turns away and says, "I can't go farther now; I will see you again tomorrow," it is a common thing to hear an exclamation, "Oh, tomorrow may never come; today is the day of salvation." Now, in a sense, this is true, but not in the sense intended. Conviction of sin, and righteousness, and judgment to come, may be a momentary, or it may be a gradual thing; and at least it requires time to work out its effects and results. God's method is one of calm appeal: "Come now, and let us reason together." The physician sees his patient again and again, and watches his case carefully.

3. We have tried to do justice to Felix, and we would fain do justice to you. We have ventured the hypothesis of an honest motive for his dismissal of the pleader. But the honesty or otherwise of your motive will prove itself in one of two ways. You will seek to put yourself within reach of the argument again when the season of solitary reflection has passed. If the convenient season never comes, that will be proof that you stifled the argument to still your fears. And you will put yourself into communication with the messenger to say, either that you want to be taught further, or else that you have tidings for him that a greater Teacher has been with you in your solitude; and looking out of self to Christ, the light came, the righteousness was sealed to you, and the judgment to come has passed away. Take today as the convenient season for this. Put nothing that is important off till tomorrow. If you tremble at righteousness and judgment to come, seek your assurance by accepting the righteousness and redemption which have already come, and which Christ is offering you today. Don't raise impediments, don't raise the old cry of being unworthy and wicked. Accept Christ; and, whatever it may cost you, do it now. Is it not true that putting off decision does make the ear grow heavy and the eye grow dim? Is it not true that there was a time when the music of the gospel rang more sweet to you than now, and the smile of Jesus had a fairer charm than pleases you today? And why? Not because the tune is altered or the visage changed. But because you have heard, but have not listened; have looked, but have not loved.

(Arthur Mursell.)

I. THE LONGER WE DELAY RETURNING TO GOD AND SEEKING HIS MERCY THROUGH THE SAVIOUR, WE MUST INCREASE OUR GUILT AND ADD TO THAT CONDEMNATION WHICH WE HAVE ALREADY INCURRED.

II. BY DELAY WE MUST DIMINISH THE BLESSINGS AND INCREASE THE EVILS OF OUR PRESENT CONDITION.

III. DELAY MAY PRODUCE SUCH INSENSIBILITY TO SIN AND ITS CONSEQUENCES AS TO RENDER IT IMPROBABLE THAT SINNERS SHOULD AWAKEN TO A SENSE OF THEIR DANGER, REPENT, AND LAY HOLD OF THE HOPE THAT IS SET BEFORE THEM. Far be it from us to fix limits to the mercy of the Most High. He may, without doubt, have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and if it so please Him He may change even in death the heart of the most hardened sinners; yet small reason, surely, have such sinners to expect at such a period so peculiar an interposition; and to delay repentance now, and to rest their salvation on the hope of it, is of all infatuations the greatest and most fearful. Yet even this hope, faint as it is, may not be granted.

IV. CONSIDER THE SHORTNESS AND UNCERTAINTY OF HUMAN LIFE. The work is great which is given us to do. The object is higher than all others for which we are to prepare, and it is during our stay on earth alone that this work can be done and this preparation can be made. And is the period of our continuance here so long that it should be wasted in vanity and sin, or that we should shorten by delay the time which is assigned for a purpose so unspeakably important?

(S. MacGill, D. D.)

A man always finds a convenient season for doing what he loves best. Whether it is working, or eating, or sleeping, or pleasure seeking, or money getting, or place hunting, if it has his heart he will find time for it. If he does not find a convenient season for accepting the offer of salvation, it is because he values something above that. He thinks more of the life that nor is than of the life which is to come. He fails to realise how much more of joy there is in the present life to one who has Christ for his Saviour, than to one who is not at peace with God. The convenient season for taking hold of the richest treasure God can give to man, and for receiving the best of blessings, is now. He who is not ready to be saved when the lifeboat is at the wreck will never have a more convenient season for his rescue. This hour is your convenient season for that which is best worth your attention and doing.

(H. C. Trumbull, D. D.)

Felix's excuse is that of those —

1. Who know indeed the vanity of the world, but are too indolent to tear themselves from its pleasures.

2. Who feel indeed the disgrace of the slavery of sin, but are too weak earnestly to repent.

3. Who have experienced indeed, in a measure, the power of the Word of God, bus are too frivolous to resign themselves entirely to it.

(Leonhard and Speigelhauer.)

Felix had sent for Paul evidently not as a judge, but partly with a view to try to get a bribe out of him, and partly because he had some kind of languid interest, as most Romans then had, in Oriental thought, and perhaps too in this strange man. Or he and Drusilla were possibly longing for a new sensation. So they called for the apostle, and the guilty couple got a good deal more than they bargained for. Christianity has sometimes to be exceedingly rude in reference to the sins of the upper classes. As Paul goes on, a strange fear began to creep about the heart of Felix. It is the watershed of his life that he has come to, the crisis of his fate. Everything depends on the next five minutes. The tongue of the balance trembles and hesitates for a moment and then, but slowly, the wrong scale goes down. "Go thy way for this time." Ah! If he had said, "Come and help me to get rid of this strange fear," how different all might have been! The metal was at the very point of melting. What shape would it take? It ran into the wrong mould, and, as far as we know, it was hardened there.

I. THIS INCIDENT IS AN EXAMPLE OF THE FACT THAT MEN LULL AWAKENED CONSCIENCES TO SLEEP AND EXCUSE DELAY IN DECIDING FOR CHRIST BY HALF-HONEST PROMISES TO ATTEND TO RELIGION AT SOME FUTURE TIME. Felix's anxiety is to get rid of Paul and his disturbing message for the present. But he does not wish to shut the door altogether. So he gives a sop to his conscience to stop its barking.

1. Let me remind you that however beautiful the message of God's love in Jesus Christ is, there is another side to it which is meant to awaken men's fears. You bring a man like Felix, or a very much better man, into contact with "righteousness, temperance, judgment to come," and the effect of a direct appeal to moral convictions will always be more or less to create a dread that if I set myself against the law of God, that law will crush me. The fear is well founded, and not only does the contemplation of God's law excite it. God's gospel comes to us, and just because it is the best "good news," it begins often by making a man feel what a sinful man he is, and how there hang over him consequences bitter and painful.

2. The awakened conscience, like the sense of pain, has got a work to do — to warn you off dangerous ground. Now have you used that sense of wrong-doing to lead you to Christ, or what have you done with it? There are two men in this book who pass through the same stages of feeling up to a certain point, and then they diverge. Felix becoming afraid, puts away the thing that disturbs him; the Philippian jailor becoming afraid (the phrases in the original being almost identical), like a sensible man, says, "What must I do to be saved?" The fear is of no use in itself. It is only an impelling motive that leads us to look to the Saviour.

II. SOME OF THE REASONS WHY WE FALL INTO THIS HABIT OF SELF-DECEIVING INDECISION AND DELAY.

1. The instinctive, natural wish to get rid of a disagreeable subject — much as a man, without knowing what he is doing, twitches his hand away from the surgeon's lancet. So a great many of us do not like these thoughts about "righteousness, and temperance and judgment to come," and make an effort to get our minds away from the subject because it is unpleasant. Do you think it would be a wise thing for a man, if he began to suspect that he was insolvent, to refuse to look into his books, and let things drift. And what do you call people who, suspecting that there may be a great hole in the bottom of the ship, say, "Oh! she will very likely keep afloat until we get into harbour"? Certainly it is not wise to shuffle a thing out of sight because it is not pleasing to think about.

2. The notion that it is time enough to be religious when you get a bit older, and that religion is all very well for people that are turned sixty, but that it is quite unnecessary for you. Some are tempted to regard thoughts of God as in place only among medicine bottles, or when the shadows of the grave begin to fall on our path. "Young men will be young men"; "We must sow our wild oats"; "You can't put old heads on young shoulders" — practically mean that godlessness belongs to youth, and virtue and religion to old age, just as flowers to spring and fruit to autumn. I beseech you not to be deceived by such a notion.

3. The habit of allowing impressions to be crowded out by cares, enjoyments and duties of this world. If you had not so much to do at college, if you had not so many parties and balls to go to, if you had not your place to make in the warehouse, if you had not this, that, and the other thing to do, you would have time for religion. Here tonight some serious thought is roused; by tomorrow at midday it has all gone. You did not intend it to go, you simply opened the door to the flocking in of the whole crowd of the world's cares and occupations, and away went the shy solitary thought that, if it had been cared for and tended, might have led you to the Cross of Jesus Christ.

4. Because you do not like to give up something that you know is inconsistent with Christ's love and service. Felix would not part with Drusilla, nor disgorge his ill-gotten gain. He was therefore obliged to put away from him the thoughts that looked in that direction.

III. SOME REASONS FOR PRESENT DECISION.

1. Delay is really decision the wrong way.

2. There is no real reason for delay. No season will be more convenient than the present. Every time is the right time to do the right thing.

3. There is nothing to wait for.

4. Every time that you delay to accept this message you make yourselves less capable of receiving it another time. If you take a bit of phosphorus and put it upon a slip of wood, and ignite the phosphorus, bright as the blaze is, there drops from it a white ash that coats the wood and makes it almost incombustible. And so when the flaming conviction, laid upon your hearts, has burnt itself out, it has coated the heart, and it will be very difficult to kindle the light there again. Felix did send for Paul again, and repeated the conversation, but we do not know that he repeated the trembling.

5. Delay robs you of large blessing. Why should you postpone possessing the purest joy, the highest blessing, the Divinest strength?

6. Delay inevitably lays up for you bitter memories and involves dreadful losses. There are good Christian men and women who would give all they have if they could blot out of the tablets of their memories some past hours before they gave their hearts to Christ. I would have you ignorant of such transgression.

7. No tomorrow may be yours. Delay is gambling, very irrationally, with a very uncertain thing — your life and your future opportunities.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

If unbelief has slain its thousands, procrastination has its ten thousands. Where one sinner is frightened into religion, a hundred are deceived to ruin by the siren's voice crying Tomorrow. The devil cares not how moral a man is, nor how anxious he is about his soul, so long as he is disposed to wait on a future opportunity. Procrastination is both "the thief of time" and the great harvest gatherer of lost souls.

I. TOMORROW HAS NO PLACE IN THE ECONOMY OF SALVATION. From first to last, with God and His offered mercy, it is now, today! There is not one promise in the Bible for tomorrow, or the next opportunity.

II. TODAY IS THE MOST FAVOURABLE SEASON ANY SINNER WILL EVER HAVE TO SEEK GOD IN THE WAY OF REPENTANCE. A "convenient season" to repent of sin and return to God will never come. Repentance is a bitter cup to all. To love what one has hated, and hate what one has loved, will never be found convenient. Come when it will, it will be crucifixion, a going counter to all the strong currents of human nature. And if you have not resolution, strength, for this today, you will have less inclination and strength for the distasteful service tomorrow.

III. THE LAW OF HABIT COMES IN HERE AS A TREMENDOUS FACTOR. It cost you a struggle to resist conviction the first time God's Spirit wrought upon you. But now it has grown into a habit, under its fell power you can resist every appeal without effort.

IV. THE MEANS OF SALVATION, WHEN RESISTED, LOSE MORE AND MORE OF THEIR POWER, TILL FINALLY THEY CEASE TO HAVE ANY SAVING INFLUENCE. The Word of God ceases to alarm. The voice of conscience is hushed. The tender heart is gone. The striving Spirit is grieved away. The Sabbath and the sanctuary lose their charm. Chastisements no longer check the downward trend. Awful monitions of a hastening doom!

V. MEANWHILE THE OUTWARD OBSTACLES TO SALVATION ARE CONTINUALLY AUGMENTING BOTH IN NUMBER AND IN INFLUENCE OVER THE SINNER. Evil habits, associations, entanglements, the infirmities of age, etc., block up the way of life and draw with the strength of a leviathan towards perdition.

(J. M. Sherwood, D. D.)

There was a man in Chicago who twice determined to give his heart to God, but never had the courage to acknowledge Christ before his ungodly companions. When recovering from a long sickness, he still refused to come out boldly on the side of Christ, saying, "Not yet; I have got a fresh lease of life. I can't be a Christian in Chicago. I am going to take a faith in Michigan and then I will profess Christ." I asked him, "How dare you take the risk?" He said, "I will risk it; don't you trouble yourself any more about my soul. I have made up my mind." The very next week he was stricken down with the same disease. His wife sent for me, and said, "He don't want to see you, but I can't bear that he should die in such an awful state of mind. He says, 'my damnation is sealed, and I shall be in hell in a week.'" I tried to talk and pray with him, but it was no use; he said his heart was as hard as a stone. "Pray for my wife and children, but don't waste your time praying for me." His last words were, "The harvest is past," etc.

(D. L. Moody.)

It is a solemn thing to say tomorrow, when God says today; for man's tomorrow and God's today never meet. The word that comes from the eternal throne is now, and it is man's own choice that fixes his doom.

(D. Matheson.)

An Indian and a white man became Christians. The Indian, almost as soon as he heard the gospel, believed and was saved; but the white man struggled on in darkness for a long while before he found light. After their peace in Christ, the white man said to the Indian: "Why was it that I was kept so long in the darkness, and you immediately found peace?" The Indian replied: "I will tell you. A prince comes along and he offers you a coat. You look at your coat and you say: 'My coat is good enough,' and you refuse his offer; but the prince comes along and he offers me the coat, and I look at my old blanket, and I throw that away, and take his offer. You, sir," continued the Indian, "are clinging to your own righteousness; you think you are good enough, and you keep your own righteousness; but I have nothing — nothing; and so when Jesus offers me pardon and peace, I simply take it."

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

I. GENERAL REMARKS.

1. That kind of preaching which tends to alarm the soul is far from being agreeable to the carnal mind. The sluggard does not like to be awakened out of his slumbers, nor the epicure to be called from his revels; neither does the thoughtless sinner wish to be roused from his sloth and carnal security. He dreams that all is well, and he chooses to dream on. He says "to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Speak unto us smooth things." "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so." Ahab said of Micaiah — "I hate him: for he never prophesieth good unto me, but always evil!" The upright Christian loves a soul searching ministry. "Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness," etc. But the language of the hypocrite, or self-soothing sinner, is like that of Felix. Such characters have no objection to hear of the love of God to a sinful world, but do not like to hear of His wrath. But let them remember that the time is coming when the contempt they have cast on faithful ministers will only tend to aggravate their guilt and ruin (Isaiah 30:10, 11; Jeremiah 5:31; Matthew 3:10; 2 Chronicles 25:16; 2 Chronicles 18:7; Psalm 141:5; Ezekiel 2:5).

2. Those who are merely the subjects of convictions generally do what they can to stifle them. They love their ease, and would chase away what they call melancholy reflections. Saul, under distress of mind, calls for music. Cain, in much the same situation, goes and builds a city. And thus today one gets rid of his terror by involving himself in a hurry of business, and another by plunging himself into dissipation and excess (Hosea 6:5.)

3. There are few men so hardened in sin, but they design to attend to the concerns of their souls at some time or another. "When I have a convenient season," etc. Thus many resolve to reform and repent at some future period. It is time enough for them to thick about religion when they are settled in the world, or to think of dying when death knocks at the door. It is easy to swim with the tide, and vain would be the attempt to swim against it: they will therefore enjoy themselves while they may. Few men are lost for saying they will not repent; but many for saying they will, but not yet. The young man who seemed resolved to follow Christ wanted first to go and bury his father. And the excuses for not coming to the marriage supper do not intimate an absolute refusal, but only a delay.

II. THE FOLLY AND DANGER OF NEGLECTING THE CONCERNS OF OUR SOUL, and putting them off to a more convenient season.

1. The concerns of our souls are of the greatest importance, and therefore ought not to be trifled with. Some things are profitable, and others pleasant; and many such things may engage our attention; but "one thing is needful," and must be attended to.

2. Life is very uncertain. The rich man talks of having goods laid up for many years, etc. Many men seem never to be convinced that they have souls till they come to lose them; or to think of a future state till they are just entering upon it. They put far off the evil day; but it must come, and may come when it is least expected. Satan, who now tempts us to delay a little longer, will hereafter persuade us that we have delayed too long.

3. Delays increase difficulties. The heart becomes more hardened, the conscience more seared, convictions return less frequently, and sinful habits are more and more strengthened and confirmed. God also, provoked by our negligence and contempt of His mercy, may justly say of us as He did of Ephraim: "He is joined to idols, let him alone!"

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

Said a little girl who had just been reading the newspaper account of an explosion, "Mother, don't you think that people who work in powder mills ought to be pious?" There was a good deal of human nature in that question. The world, like the little girl, thinks that all who are especially exposed ought to be prepared for sudden death. But is not the whole world a vast powder mill? Is it not filled everywhere with the elements of destruction? The very air we breathe may become poisonous and slay us. The water we drink may contain some deadly ingredient which neither sight nor taste can detect. We are encompassed ever by unseen dangers. We are never certain of tomorrow. Then should we not be prepared, whatever our age, our business, or our locality, for sudden death?

You have said this often to the Spirit of grace; but you would not treat anyone thus unceremoniously who should call upon you to minister to your happiness. If a friend should indicate to you the means of acquiring a fortune, or open before you some new avenue to honour and pleasure, how eagerly would you listen to his conversation, and examine with deliberation its every detail. You would not dismiss him from your presence until he had satisfied your minutest inquiries; and even then you would urge him again and again to revisit you. Your interest would be the more deeply excited if he presented before you two distinct objects of acquisition, both of which could not be procured, and between which a choice on your part were absolutely essential. And yet, when a heavenly inheritance is presented, and you are told of its permanency, and happiness, and bliss, you hesitate, as you contrast it with earthly fame and fortune, and know not which to choose!

Some years ago, a young man sat in one of these pews before me. He listened to an impassioned sermon from the preacher who that night occupied the pulpit, urging them, and pleading with them to give their hearts to Christ. This young man was much affected, and when the after meeting was intimated, he turned to a companion and said, "I will stay to it. I do not care though they do speak to me, they can only bring me to Christ, and that is what I want." But his companion laughed at him. "Man, you are a fool; if you stay here everyone will laugh at you." The young man made a feeble effort to resist his friend; but at last permitted himself to be led out, doubtless pacifying his conscience with the thought that at some other time he would have the matter settled once and for all. Foolish fellow, lost opportunities are never regained, and similar ones seldom occur. The next day was spent in a public house, where the name of Christ was never heard except as an oath. Going home late in the evening, he and his companion had to cross the railway. Their senses were too dulled with their carousal to observe the lights of an express train as it approached them, until with a swoop and a flash it was upon them, and in another moment this young man who the night before was "almost persuaded" lay dead upon the railway track. For him it had been the last opportunity, as this may be to some of you, to whom I can only give God's message, "Now is the accepted time."

(W. Ross.)

Causes in court are adjourned, sometimes because the witnesses are not ready, or because the plaintiff is not ready, or because the defendant is not ready, and sometimes because the judge is not ready, until the bill of costs is ruinous — so there are men and women who have adjourned the cause of the soul's salvation from youth to middle life, from health to sickness, from prosperity to adversity, until death eternal will be the bill of costs to pay.

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

Physicians tell us that the constant use of sedatives slowly but surely deadens the energies and saps the vital force. Good resolutions for tomorrow are a pleasant soothing syrup for our conscience today, but there is a danger lest its activity be injured, and its power of remonstrance destroyed: we want mental tonics, not sedatives.

(Dora Hope.)

"Sei tchas! sei tchas!'' Don't believe what the priest or the dictionary tells you about the meaning of that expression. The dictionary will tell you that it means "immediately," but that's all nonsense. In the mouth of a Russian it means "in an hour," "next week," "in a year or two," "never" — most commonly, "never." Like many other words in Russian, "sei tchas" can be only understood after long experience.

(Mackenzie Wallace.)

Felix trembled but procrastinated. And so many now are affected by their state and danger, but they put off seeking religion till they become indifferent about it, and till it be too late. Ministers are often not sent to visit persons till they are dying, or unconscious, or quite unable to attend to the conditions of salvation, just as medical men are sometimes not applied to till the disease is past remedy. It is often a calamity to be too late for the post, too late to meet a friend, too late to catch the train, or the ship which has to sail. But it will be an eternal and infinite misery to delay seeking salvation till the door of mercy is forever closed. "The road of by and by leads to the town of Never." "Today is the day of mercy, tomorrow may be the day of doom."

(H. R. Burton.)

In a pastorate of twenty years in one of the oldest churches of this commonwealth, three hundred and eighty persons joined the church. The minister made note of certain facts concerning each. Of this three hundred and eighty, three hundred and five joined the church before the age of thirty; thirty-eight between thirty and forty; twenty-two between forty and fifty; eight between fifty and sixty; three between sixty and seventy; three between seventy and eighty; one between eighty and ninety. As the decades pass the numbers rapidly decrease; and as the years pass we know that the intensity of the desire, that the frequency of the coming of the desire to love God lessens. The desire may fade at an early age: it may never depart in a life that rounds the century. But, remember, it may fade any year; remember, it must grow fainter as time passes; remember, it may cease, and cease forever.

(G. P. Thwing.)

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