Look at Agrippa again. Fix your attention fully upon him, for with some of you he is a photograph of yourselves. The arguments which Paul drew from Scripture and his own personal experience, were very cogent; his way of putting these arguments was exceedingly forcible, and, therefore, if Agrippa were not altogether persuaded, it was not the fault of the preacher’s matter or manner. Nothing could have been more powerful in either case.
Where, then, did the fault lie? I stand now in the court and I look around, and I ask myself, “What is the reason why Agrippa is not persuaded? The argument tells on me, why not on him?" As I look around I notice on the right hand of Agrippa a very excellent reason why he is not convinced, for there sat Bernice, of whom there were very unsavoury stories afloat in Josephus’s day. She was Agrippa’s sister, and is accused of having lived in incestuous intercourse with him.
If so, with such a woman at his right hand, I marvel not that Paul’s arguments did not fully persuade. The reason why sinners are not persuaded is, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, their sin – their love of sin! They see, but they will not see; for if they did see, they would have to tear out that right-eye sin or cut off that right-arm lust, and they cannot consent to that. Most of the arguments against the gospel are bred in the filth of a corrupt life.
He makes the best reasoner as an infidel who is most unholy, because the devil and his soul together will never keep him short of the fiery arrows of hell. If it were true that Agrippa lived in such degrading sin, it is no wonder that when Paul reasoned so soberly and so truthfully, Agrippa was almost, but not altogether, persuaded.
If the charge brought against Bernice as to her brother was not altogether true, yet she was beyond all question a shameless woman. She had been originally married to her own uncle, Herod, and was therefore both his niece and his wife; and her second marriage was soon broken by her unfaithfulness. Now Agrippa’s public and ostentatious associating with her, proved at least that he was in evil company. This is quite sufficient to account for his never being altogether persuaded to be a Christian.
Evil company is one of Satan’s great nets in which he holds his birds until the time shall come for their destruction. How many would fain escape, but they are afraid of those around them whom they count to be good fellows, and whose society has become necessary to their mirth!
Oh! you know it, some of you, you know it; you have often trembled while I have told you of your sins and of the wrath to come, but you have met your bad companion at the door, or you have gone home and attended parties of gaiety, and every godly thought has been quenched, and you have gone back like a dog to his vomit, and like a sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Ah, ye Agrippas, your Bernices will lead you down to hell. But if Agrippa has his Bernice, Bernice has her Agrippa; and so men and women become mutual destroyers. The daughters of Eve and the sons of Adam assist each other in choosing their own delusions.
— from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 15, sermon number 871, "To those who are almost persuaded."