Discipline and Other Sermons
by Charles Kingsley
The first time St. Paul came before him, Felix seems to have seen at once that Paul was innocent, and a good man; and that, perhaps, was the reason he sent for him again, and, strangely enough, heard him concerning the faith in Christ.
And what he heard we may very fairly guess, because we know from Paul's writings what he was in the habit of saying.
St. Paul told him of righteousness - a word of which he was very fond. He told Felix of a righteous and good God, who had manifested to man his righteousness and goodness, in the righteousness and goodness of his Son Jesus; a righteous God, who wished to make all men righteous like himself, that they might be happy forever.
Perhaps Paul called Felix to give up all hopes of having his own righteousness - the false righteousness of forms, ceremonies and superstitions - and to ask for the righteousness of Christ, which is a clean heart and a right spirit; and then he set before him, no doubt, as was his custom, the beauty of righteousness, the glory of it, as Paul calls it; how noble, honorable, divine and godlike a thing it is to be good.
Then Paul told Felix of temperance. And what he said we may fairly guess from his writings. He would tell Felix there were two elements in every man, the flesh and the spirit, and that those warred against each other; the flesh trying to drag him down, that he may become a brute in fleshly lusts and passions; the spirit trying to raise him up, that he may become a son of God in purity and virtue. But if so, what need must there be of temperance!
How must a man be bound to be temperate, to keep under his body and bring it into subjection, bound to restrain the lower and more brutal feelings in him, that the higher and purer feelings may grow and thrive in him to everlasting life!
Truly the temperate man, the man who can restrain himself, is the only strong man, the only safe man, the only happy man, the only man worthy of the name of man at all. This, or something like this, Paul would have said to Felix.
Paul did not, as far as we know, rebuke him for his sins. He left him to rebuke himself. He told him what ought to be, what he ought to do, and left the rest to his conscience. Poor Felix, brought up a heathen slave in that profligate court of Rome, had probably never heard of righteousness and temperance, had never had what was good and noble set before him. Now Paul set the good before him, and showed him a higher life than any he had ever dreamed of - higher than all his viceregal power and pomp - and bade him see how noble and divine it was to be good. To be continued...