« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
theism of the heathen, for which life or ease was deemed worth risking. If, however, any one had the boldness to expose the mummery of heathen superstition, we see, in the treatment of the virtuous and philosophic Socrates, the fate that awaited him. Thus much for the opinion of Mr. Gamaliel Smith, respecting the cause of religious dissentions; and, I think, equally unfortunate, on enquiry, will be found his assertion, that, in "the Gospels and Paul's Epistles, two quite different, if not opposite, religions are inculcated, and that, in the religion of Jesus may be found all the good, that has ever been the result of the compound so incongruously and unhappily made in the religion of Paul all the mischief, which in such disastrous abundance, has so indisputably flowed from it"." Mr. Gamaliel Smith tells us, that from those materials with which history has furnished us, he has been compelled to deduce. the following conclusions:-1st, That Paul had no such commission as he professed to have; 2d, That his enterprize was a scheme of personal ambition, and nothing more; 3d, That his system is fraught with mischiefs in a variety of shapes, and in as far as it departs from, or adds to, those of Jesus, with good in none, b Page 7.
and that it has no warrant, in any thing that, as appears from any of the, four Gospels, was
ever said, or done, by Jesus." So far from concurring in these opinions, I have, after a most diligent investigation, arrived at conclusions diametrically opposite, and am content to join issue with the author on the points in question, and, I trust, I shall be able to offer just and substantial reasons, for concluding from the history with which we are furnished relative to that Apostle, 1st, That St. Paul had such a commission as he professed to have; 2dly, That personal ambition formed no part of his enterprize; 3dly, That the doctrines which he taught, were in every respect worthy of a Christian Apostle, and in perfect conformity with those, which were inculcated by Jesus, and his other Apostles.
St. Paul's Conversion.—The Probability and Consistency of the Accounts concerning it, with Preliminary Ob
THAT part of the sacred Scriptures, contained in what is entitled, "The Acts of the Apostles," offers such a strong body of evidence in favor, not only of the character and principles of St. Paul, but also in confirmation of the divine mission of Jesus, that any one opposed to the doctrines of the Gospel, must naturally wish to invalidate its authenticity, and to throw discredit upon its Author. Hence it is not surprising that Mr. Gamaliel Smith should labour so earnestly to shake the credibility of that portion of Scripture. When I come to that part of the enquiry in which he attempts to shew, that St. Luke was not the author of The Acts of the Apostles, I trust I shall be able to offer satisfactory reasons for the contrary.
Let us suppose in the mean time that The "Acts of the Apostles" were written by St. Luke,
who also wrote one of the Gospels, and who is styled in the the Epistle to the Colossians "the beloved physician." Now some of the principal facts which are related respecting the conversion of St. Paula in The Acts of the Apostles are as follows-that St. Paul being a Jew, and brought up according to the straitest sect of the Jewish religion, a Pharisee, was proceeding from Jerusalem to Damascus, with authority and commission from the chief priests, in order that if he found any of the disciples of Christ, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. That as he journeyed, with attendants, towards Damascus, about mid-day suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven, that he and his companions fell to the earth, and, when they were all fallen to the ground, Paul heard a voice from heaven, saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And Paul said, Who art thou Lord, to which question a voice replied, I am Jesus
a In The Acts of the Apostles he is called Saul till the ninth verse of the thirteenth chapter, and afterwards he is always called Paul. No satisfactory reason has been assigned for this change. Perhaps the best conjecture is that of Bishop Pearce. Saul, who was himself a citizen of Rome, probably changed his name, i. e. his Hebrew name Saul, to the Roman name Paul, out of respect to this his first Roman convert, i. e. Sergius Paulus. Acts xiii. 7. Bishop Tomline.
of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest, and further directed him to go to Damascus to a disciple named Ananias; that the companions of Paul saw the light, and heard the voice; but understood not the words which were spoken; that when Paul arose, and opened his eyes, he found himself deprived of sight, and being conducted by the men who were with him to Damascus, to the disciple named Ananias, he recovered his sight, and from that time became a zealous defender and propagator of the Christian religion. Such are some of the principal circumstances relating to the conversion of St. Paul, but before we proceed to consider the probability, and consistency, of the different accounts of the matters in question, it will be proper to state a few chronological data", to which we shall have occasion to refer in the course of the ensuing enquiry. The year after the birth of Christ, in which St. Paul's conversion is said to have occurred was A. D. 35; and we find in the history given in the Acts, that when St. Paul was about to go to Jerusalem from Greece, after his second visit into that country, St. Luke was in his company for after mentioning certain persons,
b These, and other chronological data to which reference is made in the following pages, will, I trust, be found generally correct, as I have taken them from appoved authorities.