the Second Week of Advent
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Charles Spurgeon's "Morning & Evening"
“Persecuted, but not forsaken.”
Acts 23:12-30 , Acts 23:34 , Acts 23:35
Acts 23:14 , Acts 23:15
They intended to assassinate him upon the stairs which led down from the fortress to the court. Seldom has a greater crime been contemplated in the name of religion. However, the Lord had a spy upon their secret conclave, and their stratagem was defeated. The deepest designs of hell are frustrated by the Lord.
Acts 23:23 , Acts 23:24
Forty had sworn to murder him, but five hundred protectors are found for him. The angels of the Lord are round about his people, and the Lord can use a band of soldiers for the same purpose. The apostle left Jerusalem attended like a prince: his enemies were powerless to touch a hair of his head. He went down to Cæsarea, and was out of reach of the daggers of his foes.
Acts 23:34 , Acts 23:35
So that he was not put in a public prison, but kept in a room of a palace built by Herod the Great. How he must have admired the manner in which the Lord protected him! Let us trust in God, and be very courageous for the gospel, and the Lord himself will screen us from all harm.
From foulest plots and dangers dire,
When earth and hell in league conspire
The Lord preserves his own elect,
And none can harm if he protect.
The Lord will keep thy weakest powers
With his almighty arm;
And watch thy most unguarded hours
Against surprising harm.
He guards thy soul, he keeps thy breath,
Where thickest dangers come;
Go and return secure from death,
Till God commands thee home.
The love of Christ doth me constrain
To seek the wandering souls of men;
With cries, entreaties, tears, to save,
To snatch them from the gaping grave.
For this let men revile my name;
No cross I shun, I fear no shame:
All hail, reproach! and welcome, pain!
Only thy terrors, Lord, restrain.
My life, my blood, I here present,
If for thy truth they may be spent:
Thy faithful witness will I be:
‘Tis fix’d! I can do all through thee.
O faint and feeble-hearted!
Why thus cast down with fear:
Fresh aid shall be imparted,
Thy God unseen is near.
His eye can never slumber;
He marks thy cruel foes,
Observes their strength and number,
And all thy weakness knows.
Alarm’d in vain the truth he hears,
Repentance fatally defers,
And faith in Jesu’s name;
He fancies life is in his power,
Waits for a more convenient hour,
Which never, never came.
Beset with snares on every hand,
In life’s uncertain path I stand:
Saviour divine, diffuse thy light,
To guide my doubtful footsteps right.
Engage this roving treacherous heart
To fix on Mary’s better part,
To scorn the trifles of a day,
For joys that none can take away.
There’s not a tint that paints the rose,
Or decks the lily fair,
Or streaks the humblest flower that blows,
But God has placed it there.
There’s not a place on earth’s vast round,
In ocean deep, or air,
Where skill and wisdom are not found,
For God is everywhere.
Around, beneath, below, above,
Wherever space extends,
There God displays his boundless love,
And power with mercy blends.
Lov’d of my God, for him again
With love intense I burn:
Chosen of him e’er time began,
I choose him in return,
Whate’er consists not with thy love,
Lord, teach me to resign:
I’m rich to all the intents of bliss,
If thou, O God, art mine.
Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrain’d to be!
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it,
Seal it from thy courts above.
Wake, harp of Zion, wake again,
Upon thine ancient hill,
On Jordan’s long deserted plain,
By Kedron’s lowly rill.
The hymn shall yet in Zion swell
That sounds Messiah’s praise,
And thy loved name, Immanuel!
As once in ancient days.
For Israel yet shall own her King
For her salvation waits,
And hill and dale shall sweetly sing
With praise in all her gates.
Hasten, O Lord, those promised days,
When Israel shall rejoice;
And Jew and Gentile join in praise,
With one united voice.
“The turning away of the simple shall slay them.”
Acts 24:1-19 , Acts 24:22 , Acts 24:24-27
He flattered the detestable Felix, of whom it was hard to say a single good word. To gain their ends men stoop to anything.
the way which they call heresy or a sect
Acts 24:24 , Acts 24:25
This aged sinner had enticed Drusilla while a girl of about eighteen from her husband, and was living not only in open sin with her, but also in the commission of every other crime. Paul did well, therefore, to preach to him concerning the judgment: the cowardly voluptuary trembled, but continued in his sins.
He longed for bribes, and therefore retained his innocent prisoner. Men will do anything for gain. This man felt the power of Paul’s sermon, but loved the wages of sin too well to repent. If we also are saying, “When I have a more convenient season I will call for thee;” is it not because we do not mean to give up our sins?
And thus the apostle remained shut up for two whole years, and then was compelled to appeal unto Cæsar to avoid being taken up to Jerusalem, and murdered on the road. During the time that he waited to be sent to Rome, he was brought before Agrippa. Of his noble speech on that occasion we shall read in our next lesson.