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St. Luke says, "These going before tarried for us at Troas, and we sailed away from Philippi." This was in the year 58, and from that time to the year 63, in which St. Paul was set at liberty after his first imprisonment at Rome, St. Luke appears to have been almost always his companion. Thus during a period of about five years, St. Luke would have an opportunity not only of hearing from St. Paul the particulars of his former history, but he would be an eyewitness of a very interesting portion of his life, and consequently the better qualified both to judge of his conduct, and to bear testimony to his character. Having made these preliminary observations, I proceed to shew the consistency of the three different accounts, given in The Acts of the Apostles, relative to the conversion of St. Paul. The first is that related by the historian in his own person: the second is that which St. Paul is reported to have delivered, when apprehended at his last visit to Jerusalem; the third is that which St. Paul is said to have given of the matter when pleading before king Agrippa.
The Consistency of the Accounts considered, in continuation.
I. THE historical Account given by the Author of The Acts of the Apostles:
Acts, ch. ix. ver. 1—9.
IX. 1. “And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and 'slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2. And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5. And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do'. 7. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink."
II. St. Paul's first Account (when apprehended at Jerusalem.)
ACTS, ch. xxii. ver. 3-11.
XXII. 3. "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, à city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. 4. And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, 5. As also the high priest doth bear me witness, and all the estate of the elders: from whom also I received letters unto the brethren, and went to Damascus, to bring them which were there bound unto Jerusalem, for to be punished. 6. And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. 7. And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 8. And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. 9. And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. 10. And I said, What shall I do, Lord? And the Lord said unto me, Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do. 11. And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus.
III, St. Paul's second Account when pleading before King Agrippa.
ACTS, ch. xxvi. ver. 9-17.
XXVI. 9. "I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 11. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 12. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13. At mid-day, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17. Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee."
In the above plain and unvarnished accounts of St. Paul's conversion, so perfectly clear and consistent in all essential points, Mr. Gamaliel Smith pretends to have discovered a want of conformity as to the ten following circumstances:
Omissions.... 1. The light seen.
2. The dialogue.
3. Falling to the ground.
5. Kicking against the pricks. Contradictions. 6. The Lord's commands.
7. Paul's companions' posture.
9. If hearing, what they heard. 10. Nothing seen but the light.
1. Light seen. "In Acts it is a 'light,' in Paul's first a great light,' in both it is about mid-day. But in Paul's second account it is above the brightness of the sun at that time of the day." p. 12. So far from being contradictory, these accounts, respecting the supernatural light, strongly corroborate each other. But, says Gamaliel Smith, Paul having on the second occasion abundant time, " flowers were to be collected," and this respecting the light, "is one of them;" but what motive St. Paul