At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me…. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear. 2 Timothy 4:16,17
Paul before Nero—how striking the contrast! … In power and greatness Nero stood unrivaled…. Without money, without friends, without counsel, Paul had been brought forth from a dungeon to be tried for his life….
The countenance of the monarch bearing the shameful record of the passions that raged within; the countenance of the prisoner telling the story of a heart at peace with God and man. The results of opposite systems of education stood that day contrasted—a life of unbounded self-indulgence and a life of entire self-sacrifice. Here were the representatives of two theories of life—all-absorbing selfishness, which counts nothing too valuable to be sacrificed for momentary gratification, and self-denying endurance, ready to give up life itself, if need be, for the good of others….
The people and the judges … had been present at many trials, and had looked upon many a criminal; but never had they seen a man wear a look of such holy calmness…. His words struck a chord that vibrated in the hearts even of the most hardened. Truth, clear and convincing, overthrew error. Light shone into the minds of many who afterward gladly followed its rays…. He pointed his hearers to the sacrifice made for the fallen race….
Thus pleads the advocate of truth; faithful among the faithless, loyal among the disloyal, he stands as God’s representative, and his voice is as a voice from heaven. There is no fear, no sadness, no discouragement, in word or look…. His words are as a shout of victory above the roar of battle.
Let this hero of faith speak for himself. He says, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecution, in distresses for Christ’s sake.”