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PERSECUTION OF THE CHRISTIANS-CHAP. IX.
60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Jerusalem. ried, 4747. Lord, lay not this sin to their charge! And when he had Vulgar Æra, 34 said this, he fell asleep.
1 And Saul was consenting unto his death.
2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him 43.
General Persecution of the Christians, in which Saul,
ACTS viii. part of ver. 1. and ver. 3.
1 And at that time there was a great persecution
was uttered in a prayer to Jesus: first for himself, and then
It is well observed by Kuinocl, that if St. Stephen had invok-
(a) Hora Hebraicæ, vol. I. p. 442. (b) Horsley's Letters in reply to Dr. Priestley-Lett. xii. p. 232. 8vo. edit. (c) Kuinoel in lib. Hist. vol. iv. p. 290. See also Dr. Pye Smith's excellent criticism on this passage.
These chapters are most carelessly divided in our Bibles. The first clause of ver. 1. evidently belongs to the preceding verse. The acount of the burial of Stephen seems to be more appropriately introduced immediately after the narrative of his martyrdom, rather than parenthetically, in the history of the subsequent persecution (a).
(a) See Bishop Barrington, Beza, and Markland's observations, ap. Bowyer.
The apostles were protected by the especial providence of God, to continue to build up the Church at Jerusalem, till the time arrived for the general dispersion of Christianity throughout the world. The secondary causes of their safety during the heat of the present persecution are unknown. They were not, as some have imagined, too obscure to be noticed, for they had already repeatedly incurred the public censure of their rulers; nor can we suppose that the high priest, or his coadjutors, were afraid of inflicting the same punishment on them as on others. They seem to have been preserved by an Almighty Providence, to promote the unity of the Church, by directing and govern
Julian Period, 4747. Vulgar Era,
8 Ås for Saul, he made havoc of the church ", entering Jerusalem.
ing the remnant of those who were left at Jerusalem. For unto
That the Evangelist commences with the history of the 120,
By instancing Philip, he shews what class of men is understood, when he says "they were scattered."
The term, evayyedikóμevol, is never applied to any other than to preachers by function.
Persecution would first look to the preachers. Many of the common Christians were left at Jerusalem (a).
(a) Lightfoot's Works, vol. viii. p. 122.
45 The word vμaivero, in this passage, which our tran-
The word thus used, reminds me of a singular, but ingenious
Vitringa first points out the typical resemblance between
Samson, born out of the usual course of nature, and a Naza-
Our Lord, the Son of Mary, filled from the womb with the Holy Ghost, loved the Gentiles, though they were despised and hated by his own people.
Samson acted under a divine influence.
The love of Christ to his Gentile Church, was according to the divine counsel and foreknowledge of God.
Samson displeased his father and mother, who would have dissuaded him from going to Timnath; being ignorant of the divine will.
The Jewish Church, and its high priest and governors, strenuously opposed the design of preaching or appealing to the Gentiles, not believing it was the appointment of God.
PERSECUTION OF THE CHRISTIANS-CHAP. IX.
Jalian Pe into every house; and haling men and women, com- Jerusalem. riod, 4747. mitted them to prison. Valgar Era,
The parents of Samson, overcome by his perseverance, at length accompanied their son to Timnath.
That portion of the Jewish Church which embraced Chris-
Samson went to Timnath, when the Philistines governed
Our Lord appealed to the Gentiles at the time when the Ro-
II. While the parents of Samson were going down with him to Timnath, for the purpose of marrying the Philistine virgin to their son, a young lion met Samson in the way.
During the interval which elapsed between the death of Stephen, who had pleaded the cause of Christ before the presidents of the Jewish nation, and declared the overthrow of their economy, and the calling of the Gentiles, and between the invitation of the Gentiles by Peter, to the spiritual marriage of Christ, at which time Christ was, as it were, in the way to accomplish his will towards the Gentiles-in this interval of time, I say, Christ was opposed or met by Saul, a young man, fiercely hostile to his religion; armed against him by the power of the Sanhedrim, and eager to ravage and devour his Church. With 1 Tim. i. 13. Vitringa particularly refers to this passage-Paulus vero έλυμαίνετο τὴν ̓Εκκλησίαν, vastabat Ecclesiam, instar Ursi aut Leonis.
It was a young lion which met Samson. Vitringa confirms his hypothesis by the peculiar description of this young lion, which is called not, a whelp, but 9, Leunculus Leonum aut Leænarum, p. 481, or, as he terms it in p. 488. Leo juvenis.
St. Paul was a young man, highly distinguished among the
The lion roared at him (as ready and intent to devour him,)
Samson met the lion in the way to Timnath, a city of the Phi-
This description corresponds with the situation of Damascus.
This young lion, Samson, without any weapon, reut with his hands, as a kid is rent.
Saul, whom Christ met in the way, fierce and raging against him, was thrown down to the ground, and became dead both to his former self, and to the law of Moses, Acts ix. 4. Gal. ii. 19-and as the lion met Samson, as if to prevent his nuptials at Timnath, so also did St. Paul meet our Lord in the way, when be was endeavouring to prevent the predicted union between Christ and the Gentile Church.
Although Samson's father and mother were not present, they were not far removed-but this action of Samson's, in the way to Timnath, was performed without either their knowledge or observance.
The Sanhedrim of the Jewish Church, though present by their delegates, did not see the overthrow of Saul. St. Luke is considered as giving another explanation of this part of the
Julian Period, 4747.
Vulgar Era, Philip the Deacon having left Jerusalem on account of the
supposed type, when he says, "the men who were with me
Samson, by his conquest over the lion, gave an earnest to the
Christ, the Lord of the Church, by his victory over Saul, demonstrated his power to subdue and subject to himself the most implacable and powerful of his enemies.
Vitringa then proceeds to consider the consequences of the death of the lion, and compares them with those that followed St. Paul's conversion.
While Samson was engaged in completing the ceremonial of his nuptials, a hive of bees collect in the body of the lion, and there prepare honey.
While Christ was uniting the Gentile Church to himself, by the preaching of St. Peter, and the conversion of Cornelius and his friends, the disciples of Christ collect at Damascus, with St. Paul, now dead to sin and the law, constantly exercised themselves in the study of the divine word, and by these labours brought forth sweet and wholesome food, which is the spiritual nourishment and consolation of the sinner. Honey is the symbol of those healthful and useful truths which are obtained by the studies of diligent men from the word of God, to feed others, that is, to instruct and console them: this emblem is common in Scripture. (Prov. xxiv. 19. and xxv. 16. Can. v. 1. Ps. xix. 11.) While bees represent those industrious men who gather truths from their own labour and exertions. Saul was with the disciples at Damascus for many days (Acts ix. 11.); they were soon united with him, as a hive of bees, per modum examinis apum, Titus, Timothy, Silas, Epaphroditus, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus surnamed Justus, and many others, producing honey as it were in the carcase of Saul, who being now dead to sin and the law, took an opportunity of explaining by his conversion the doctrine of grace in Christ Jesus to the advantage and consolation of himself and others.
Samson tasted of the honey, and was refreshed.
The labours, the devotedness, the energy of St. Paul, may be said to have produced that honey of which the bridegroom (Cant. v. 1.) ate, and in which he is there represented to delight; and our Lord indeed really and typically ate after his resurrection.
The father and mother of Samson ate of this honey, though
The doctrines of Christianity, which the companions of St.
Samson, at the nuptial feast, proposed an enigma to his com-
The conversion of St. Paul was a circumstance so paradoxical and enigmatical, that it was considered by the Jews as an incredible and unaccountable event, (Gal. i. 23.) neither did the disciples believe it, nor receive Paul till after the lapse of the three years which he passed in Arabia.
riod, 4747. Vulgar Era,
PHILIP THE DEACON GOES TO SAMARIA-CHAP. IX.
Persecution, goes to Samaria, and preaches there, and Samaria. works Miracles.
ACTS Viii. 5-13.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria", and preached Christ unto them.
Samson himself, at the intreaties of his wife, explained the enigma.
Barnabas, a Jew, an apostle of the Gentiles, related the enigma of the conversion of St. Paul, and how the Lord had appeared to him in the way to Damascus.
It ought not to excite surprize, that there should be an appearance of fancifulness in this parallel: the wonder rather is, that the learned writer's ingenuity should have discovered so many coincidences. I am unwilling to come to his conclusions, as I find no allusion in the New Testament to this supposed type. The analogy, however, is curious.
Vitringa is not the only writer who has discovered some allusion to St. Paul in the Old Testament. Witsius (a) has quoted Cocceius, who has followed with some variations the authority of Tertullian, Ambrose, Jerome, and St. Augustin, in applying to St. Paul (Gen. xlix. 27.) Benjamin shall raven as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. The Fathers would thus explain this prophecy-Paul, in the morning of his life, like a wolf devoured the Church; and in the evening, or the decline or latter division of his life, divided the spoils of the Gentiles, delivered from the dominion of Satan, with Christ and his Church. The interpretation of Cocceius is more elegant-He observes that the Israelites, as a nation, had their rising and their setting; and on each occasion Benjamin was conspicuous. Saul was the first kiug of the nation, and defeated their enemies; another Saul, in the decline of the State, divided the spoils taken from Satan, the Jews, and the Gentiles. Witsius, however, rejects both these interpretations; and shews that the predictions were more probably fulfilled in the history of the tribe of Benjamin. The wolf also is used as an emblem of corrupt and erroneous teachers, rather than of the faithful and zealous.
Though Witsius rejects these supposed meanings of the passage, he inclines to the opinion of Jerome, Theoderet, Nicolaus à Lyra, Pellicanus, and others, that Psalm lxviii. 28. is rightly applied to the apostle of the Gentiles. He prefers the Junian version-Illic sic Benjamin, parvus, et dominator eorum; principes Jehudæ, et cœtus eorum; principes Zebullonis, principes Naphthali. The first part of this passage may refer to St. Paul, the latter to the other apostles, who belonged to the districts of Zabulon and Naphthali. Altinguus, in his treatise de Schiloh Dominatore, lib. v. cap. 20. and in his Comment. on the Psalm, Oper. Tom. ii. Part iii. p. 111. ap. Witsi. has revived and defended this opinion. It is not impossible that the verse ought to have been thus interpreted: Bishop Horne, however, has not noticed it.
(a) See Vitringa Observ. Sacræ, vol. ii. p. 479-492. Witsius devitâ Pauli Meletem. Leidens. cap. i. sect. viii. p. 5.
46 The apostles (Acts viii. 1.) had not yet left Jerusalem. This Philip, therefore, must not be confounded with the apostle. It was the Deacon, who after his mission to Samaria, went to his own house at Cesarea, where St. Paul was afterwards receiv-. ed. (Acts xxi. 8.)
The first effect of the Gospel of Christ was the removal of