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Agrippa II., was originally King of Chalcis; received subsequently the tetrarchies of Lysanias and Philip, (Luke iii. 1,) with the title of king; and he also had conferred on him the control of the temple. He professed to be a zealous Jew, but was not much esteemed by his own people, on account of his heathen education, his frequent acts of violence, licentious character and lavish personal expenditure. Bernice was his eldest sister. To salute Festus,-to place himself on friendly terms with the new procurator, as well as to congratulate the latter on his appointment. Festus consults with Agrippa partly for the sake of guidance, as the latter might be supposed to be well acquainted with the questions which surrounded the case of Paul; partly from deference, as Agrippa was governor of the temple. The inquiry on the morrow would be helpful to Festus in drawing up a statement of the case to be forwarded to the Imperial Court.
REFLECTIONS.—We have closed the Lesson, now let us recall the persons and study them, asking what is there to approve ? what is there to condemn ?
1. The rulers of the Jews.— They had a great deal of religious knowledge. This Paul allows, ch. xxiv. 15. They were zealous for the ceremonies of the law, and made their boast of the Scriptures. Yet they have acted and are acting in forgetfulness of Deut. x. 12. They are foolish builders, Matt.
vii. 26. Never separate knowing from doing.
2. Festus, independent, ver. 4; prompt, ver. 6, Margin 17; just, ver. 5, 16; and the tone of the whole narrative implies that he was courteous in his manners. Even in this heathen there are things upon which we are commanded to think, Phil. iv. 8. But notice two defects: first, love of praise, ver. 9, with John xii. 43; second, religious indifference, ver. 19, 20. The resurrection of Jesus and the other doctrines which Paul re. ferred to, nor Paul's own earnestness, made any impression upon him. All had to do with questions which did not interest him. Beware of religious indifference.
3. Agrippa and Bernice.-Hypocrites both of them, covering worldly and wicked lives with a show of zeal for their nation and temple : imposing on no one but themselves; for the people saw through them and distrusted them. Be sincere, Matt. vi. 24.
4. Paul.—How wide, how lasting the influence of one good man! The enmity and perseverance of the rulers testified to this in Paul. Goodness cannot be overthrown, nor its blessed results eradicated.
QUESTIONS.—Who was Festus? Why did he go to Jerusalem ? How did the Jews attempt to procure his influence against Paul! How was this prevented? What was meant by the appeal to Cæsar? How was Paul induced to make that appeal? Who were Agrippa ? Bernice! Why did Festus consult Agrippa!
OCTOBER 25. PAUL BEFORE AGRIPPA: FIRST LESSON.
Acts xxv. 23—27 ; xxvi. 1—20. INTRODUCTION.-Although in our list recall by questions the incidents of the of Lessons the narrative of Paul's
previous Lesson. Agrippa's decision appearance before Agrippa is divided breaks up this conclave of great into two portions, it is impossible in treatment to take them separately. If
persons. Agrippa the voluptuary is
moved by curiosity to see a famous the plan suggested in the following sketches be adopted, it will be well for
man and hear a strange story. After the teacher to read right through the
deciding upon the mode of dealing account to the end of ch. xxvi. with his
with an absent person by their class, and then the first sketch for the authority, they depart. Is not each present week and 'the second for the of them free to go where he likes, to subsequent week. It will be seen that do what he will during the ensuing the key-thought of both sketches is night? Yes, surely they are free. the distinction between apparent liberty What of Paul ? Is he free? Surely and real; a thought suggested by the
not; he lies in prison, chained to a “ bonds" of the Apostle and his
soldier. A “ must be " which he dare triumphant liberty of soul.
not disobey reaches him in a command OVER-NIGHT.-Read ch. xxv. 22, and that to-morrow he must appear before
Agrippa. What must his thoughts stalks into the prisoner's dock, and near have been ? He knew the Herods ; him a person of unimposing appearknew the man before whom he must ance, bronzed with travel, his brow appear, and the shameless woman who evidently lined with care. This is the would be by his side. Paul must not prisoner. A clink of iron is heard; it only defend himself and his Gospel, is the sound of a chain, now seen ; but so do it as to awaken sinners, great it passes from the prisoner's right hand sinners. No doubt he sought grace of to the soldier's left. There is one that Saviour Who had so often helped person then in that crowded court not him, and lay down quietly, taking "no free. It is the Apostle of the Gentiles. thought for the morrow.” Yet the He is fettered. But hear what strong mandate has come; he must appear. words he uses, ver. 10. It is evident Lying there, chained to his guard, is he that he thinks himself free. How is free? Surely, no!
this? THE SCENE.—The narrative records
AND FREEDOM. What that great pomp was observed on does the Bible say ? “ And ye shall the occasion of Paul's appearance know the truth, and the truth shall before Agrippa.
a public make you free,” John viii. 32. “If the "reception of Agrippa, as well as the Son shall make you free, ye shall be trial of a far-famed prisoner. The free indeed,” John viii. 36. “ Where whole scene would have some resem- the Spirit of the Lord is, there is blance to the reception of a great liberty," 2 Cor. iii. 17; Rom. vi. 7. native prince in open “durbar” by the Jesus gives the freedom, through the Viceroy of India. Festus, the pro- truth, and imparts the knowledge of curator, would not let the glory of the it to the heart by His Spirit. Emperor whom he represented suffer in
“He is a freeman whom the truth makes free, his hands; he would be attended by And all are slaves besides." the minor officers of state, and an escort of Roman soldiers. Agrippa belonged
“Men would rather besin'sdrudges than to a family given to display. His
God's freemen, and neglect that service father, near this very spot, (ch, xii.
wherein is perfect freedom for that 21,) had stood before the crowds of a
wherein there is intolerable slavery. theatre in "royal apparel,” in robes of
They will disturb their consciences, silver tissue. The son would not be
violate their reason, impair their health, behind the father in display befitting
in contradicting the laws of God, and a king, as he moved to take the prefer a sensual satisfaction, with toil presidency of the court, by the courtesy
here and eternal ruin hereafter, before of Festus, whose guest he was. Near
the honour of God, the dignity of the two potentates were clustered the
their nature, or happiness, or peace chief captains, the commanders of a
and health ; which might be preserved thousand men, high in military rank,
at a cheaper expense than they are at in full dress. Then the principal men
to destroy them."-Charnoek. In our of the city, eager to see the display,
next Lesson we shall turn again to the and watch how the celebrated Christian
scene of Paul's trial, and inquire who teacher would bear himself as a prisoner
were fettered ? who were free ? Meanbefore such a court. Crowds from the
while let us ask ourselves, are we trying city streets fill the open spaces of the
to be free in the way in which Jesus court-house. Festus, Agrippa, Bernice,
spoke of freedom ? officers, city magnates, common QUESTIONS.—Why would Festus assume sight-seers, are they not all free? So much dignity on the occasion of Paul's it seems. The court settles down :
appearance? What instance can you give of
the Herodian fondness for display ? Who the buzz of voices is hushed. Festus were in attendance to increase the pomp? gives a word of command, ver. 23. Why would Paul be the attraction of all eyes?
What would people say about him ? Did he Eager expectation lights up every
feel as a slave? What words of Jesus explain face. By and by a Roman soldier this?
J. ROCHE, PRINTER,
EXERCISES ON SCRIPTURE LESSONS.
DECEMBER 6.- DAVID CONQUERS THE AMALEKITES. —
1 Samuel xxx. 120.
For repetition, verse 6.
TAE INCURSION OF THE AMALEKITES. Exod. xvii. 4. Their sorrow almost V. 1.-6. Where did our last Lesson bereft them of reason, otherwise they leave David ? In what town did he loved and trusted their leader too well live usually at that time? How did to think of harming him. His agony it come into his possession ? Three would be greatest of all, not merely days David and his men marched because his wives were stolen, but homeward. All rejoiced, David because this calamity was the direct specially, that they had escaped result of his settling in a heathen land. fighting against their own countrymen. Yet he did not despair; he encouraged They would wait the issue of the himself in the Lord his God.—God had battle between Saul and the Philistines delivered him out of many troubles, quietly in Ziklag, with their wives and He would not forsake him in this. families. When they reached that His friends had turned against him, town, they found only a heap of those who were dear to him were in the smoking ruins. All was desolate, there power of his enemies, but the Lord was not even one human being left to lived still. tell the tale of disaster. How had it THE DISASTER RETRIEVED.—V. 7happened ? Perhaps one or two of the
At David's request, Abiathar, inhabitants had fled and hidden them- clothed in the priestly garment, the selves, and when they saw David's ephod, inquires of God for him, band, returned and related to him the Shall I pursue after this troop? shall story. Perhaps he could only guess I overtake them? The answer is the authors of the mischief. But he decisive and most cheering, Pursue, etc., would have no difficulty in guessing. -the Amalekites shall be defeated and The Amalekites had taken advantage all their captives recovered. The whole of David's absence to revenge them- band, without waiting for refreshment, selves for his attacks upon them, which indeed they could not have ch. xxvii. 8. What had become of obtained in Ziklag, hastened after the the Israelites' wives and children ?
spoilers. At the brook Besor,--some were they living? We know the distance south of Gaza,-one-third of Amalekites had carried all into their number fall out of the ranks from captivity, not that they were too fatigue. The remainder continue the merciful to slay them, but that they pursuit. An Egyptian is found by the might employ them as slaves. Had wayside, apparently dying of hunger. the men been certain of this, it would Short of provisions themselves, they have given them little comfort; hope- relieve him. They have their reward. less captivity was but little better than He was servant to one of the very death. Their property, too,—their Amalekites who had done David so flocks and herds,-was lost. One is much mischief. He had fallen sick, not much surprised that their grief was cruelly left behind, to perish or made them angry with David, that they recover as he might. Probably his
ake of sto ng him.—Compare master was so enriched by the spoil of VOL. IX. NEW SERIES.—December, 1874.
Ziklag, that he thought a sick slave not 2. Often you leave home and return; worth caring for. Most likely he had no misfortune has happened in your forgotten all about him. Yet the absence. Learn to be thankful to abandonment of that Egyptian led to Almighty God for ordinary, daily the destruction of the Amalekite host. mercies. Cherethites,—the name of the inhabi. 3. Read Psalm cxviii. 8, 9.-Illustants of Southern Philistia. The south trate from the Lesson. of Caleb,—the land allotted to Caleb, 4. In all trouble let us encourage Joshua xv. 13, etc. Upon the promise ourselves in the Lord our God. that his life and liberty should be 5. Contrast the Amalekites' cruelty spared, he conducts David's little army and David's kindness to the Egyptian, to the Amalekite encampment. They and the results of each.-Learn a lesson are eating and drinking and making of kindness to the poor. merry in fancied security, believing 6. All God's promises are as faithful that both David and the Philistines and certain as the one He made and are far away in the north, and have performed to David in this Lesson ; 2 not yet heard the tidings of their loss. Cor. i. 20. Ver. 17-20 contain the rest of the narrative. The twilight,—the evening
QUESTIONS.—What had happened to Ziklag twilight. The slaughter lasted full in David's absence? Why was it the Amalek twenty-four hours. All the flocks and ites “slew not any"? What effect had the the herds,-properly belonging to the
disaster on the people! What did they think Amalekites. Those other cattle,-seized
of doing to David! How did he feel? What
was the first step he took? What answer did by them at Ziklag. This is David's God return? What occurred at “the brook spoil,- an exclamation of triumph. Besor”? What was the next noteworthy event? He had recovered his own, and had
How came the Egyptian there? What informa
tion did he give them? What service did he captured large booty too.
render them? How did David's expedition
end ? Explain Cherethites, the south of Caleb, REFLECTIONS.—1. “ Boast not thyself
all the flocks and the herds, those other cattle.
What texts has our Lesson illustrated? What of to-morrow ; for thou knowest not what
other practical lessons have you learnt from a day may bring forth.”
DECEMBER 13, -THE MOUNTAINS OF GILBOA.
1 Samuel xxxi.
THE DEATH OF SAUL.–V. 1–7. What was the last we heard of Saul ? Describe the positions of the Philistine and Israelite armies : see Morning Lesson, November 22nd. The first verse of the present chapter relates briefly the defeat of Israel. It is generally supposed that the battle was fought in the plain of Jezreel, to the west of Mount Gilboa, and that the vanquished Israelites fled thither for refuge. The Philistines pursued themi Naturally the battle would be hottest around the leaders. One by one Saul's three sons fell. Then an arrow wounded the King; he knew that the end was come; resistance was hopeless, he had not strength for it. He dreaded lest the Philistines should not kill him outright, but insult and torture him. He begs his armour-bearer to slay
him, the armour-bearer refuses; he is specially responsible for the King's safety, he dare not violate his trust. So Saul commits suicide, and his example is followed by his armourbearer. Ver. 6 sums up the result of the contest; all his men,-his bodyguard. [Illustrate : at the storming of Magdala, King Theodore shot himself rather than fall alive into the hands of his enemies.] From ver. 7 we learn that the whole country between Jezreel and the Jordan was the prize of the Philistine victory. Thus all Israel's territory, except that east of the Jordan and the land of Judah, was in the possession of the Philistines. Contrast ch. vii. 13, 14. To what a state had the nation been brought by the king it had demanded !
THE PHILISTINE TREATMENT OF THE
BODIES.–V. 8–10. On the morrow night. The corpses were burnt, partly the Philistines came to strip the slain, because they were corrupt and muti. -to take their armour, their clothes, lated, partly to make sure that they and whatever valuables they might should not again be seized by the have about them. Not till then did Philistines. The bones,-left when the they know the Jewish King and his flesh was consumed. Fasted seven days, sons were among the dead. Their —the customary time of mourning. heads were cut off, their weapons and armour plundered, and all sent from
REFLECTIONS.—1. Upon the death of place to place as trophies of victory,
Saul.-Retrace Saul's history from the in honour of the idols to whom the
time God gave him another heart till Philistines ascribed their conquest.
now. A warning against disobedience, [The Sacred Narrative speaks only of
pride, hypocrisy, formality. Read Saul, but it is evident from ver. 12,
Hymn 317, Wesley's Hymns. that his sons' corpses suffered similar
2. Upon the death of Jonathan.-It dishonour.] Read 1 Chron. x. 9, 10.
was Providential. David could not Thus were the trophies finally disposed
have ascended the throne if Jonathan of. Note the phrase, to carry tidings
had lived. Notice that Jonathan unto their idols,-the idols needed to
assisted his father in his distress, be informed of a victory supposed to
though he would not join him in be gained by their help! The bodies
persecuting David. Beyond question, were fastened to the wall of Beth
Jonathan went from the battle-field to shan, one of the towns referred to in
heaven. Imitate Jonathan's character : ver. 7.
unselfish, loving, brave. A wicked THE MEN OF JABESH-GILEAD.--V.
father may have a godly son. 11–13. Do you remember any kind
3. Upon the Philistines' cruelty and ness Saul once showed to Jabesh. savageness.-Hate war. Thank God Gilead ? ch. xi. 1-11. It is forty years since, but they have not for.
4. Upon the conduct of the men of
Regotten it. but they will give his body honourable
quite kindnesses. burial. A dangerous enterprise, to QUESTIONS.—Where was the battle fought? cross the Jordan, to penetrate into an
Who conquered ? Describe Saul's death.
Why would not the armour-bearer slay him? enemy's country, to remove bodies
Who died with Saul? How much of Israel from the wall of a city, to carry them did the Philistines possess ? What did they through hostile territory, over the river do with the corpses ? What became of armour, again! Yet it was accomplished
heads, corpses in the end ? Give the substance
of each of the Reflections (to be asked for swiftly, silently, successfully-in the
separately). Illustration.—THE MOUNTAINS OF GILBOA. “The Mountains of Gilboa are still called by the natives Djebel Gilbo, or Mount Gilbo. Eusebius says they are situated six miles from Bethshan, otherwise Scythopolis. They are a lengthened ridge, rising up in peaks about eight hundred feet above the level of the road, and probably about one thousand feet above the level of the Jordan, and about twelve hundred feet of that of the sea, and bounding the plain of the Jordan on the west. Utter solitude is on every side of these mountains, which afford no dwelling-places for men, except for the wandering shepherd, whose search for pasturage must often be in vain; as a little withered grass, and a few scanty shrubs, dispersed in different places, constitute the whole produce of the mountains of Gilboa. Mr. Robinson says Mount Gilboa comes close to Bethshan, and bounds the plain of the Jordan to the west. On the east the plain is bounded by a mountain range, which forms part of Mount Gilead." -Bible Cyclopædia.
DECEMBER 20.-AN EVIL MESSENGER.
2. Samuel i. 1-16. THE MESSENGER AND HIS TIDINGS. two days; he does not even know that V. 1-10. David has been in Ziklag the battle of Gilboa has been fought.