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name of Jesus of Nazareth. 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.
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. Whereupon, as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at mid-day, 0 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. 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. And I said, Who art thou, Lord ? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 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; delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they
should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and sober
For the King knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him ; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets ? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.” In another chapter of the same book, he gives in substance the same account to the Jews, adding these further particulars : “ 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. 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. Aud one Ananias,
a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up
And he said, the God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldst hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou?. Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
In the 9th chapter of the same book, the Author of it relates the same story with some other circumstances, not mentioned in these accounts: As, “ that Saul in a vision saw Ananias," before he came to him, “coming in, and putting his hand upon him that he might receive his sight." And that when Ananias had spoken to him, “ immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales." And, agreeably to all these accounts, St. Paul thus speaks of himself, in the epistles he wrote to the several churches he planted; the authenticity of which cannot be doubted without overturning all rules, by which the authority and genuineness of any writings can be proved, or confirmed. To the Galatians he says, “I certify you,
, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. For have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and
wasted it; and profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. . But when it pleased God, who separated me from my
mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen, immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood,” &c. To the Philippians he says, any
other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more; circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dong, that I may win Christ.”
And in his epistle. to Timothy he writes thus: " I thank Jesus Christ our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”
In other epistles he calls himself “an Apostle by the will of God, by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ;-—and an Apostle, not of men, neither by men, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.” All which implies some miraculous call that made
him an apostle.--And to the Corinthians he says, after enumerating many appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, “ And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”
Now it must of necessity be, that the person attesting these things of himself, and of whom they are related in so authentic a manner, either was an impostor, who said what he knew to be false with an intent to deceive; or he was an enthusiast, who, by the force of an overheated imagination, imposed on himself; or he was deceived by the fraud of others, and all that he said must be imputed to the power of that deceit; or what he declared to have been the cause of his conversion, and to have happened in consequence of it, did all really happen; and, therefore, the Christian religion is a Divine Re'velation. Now, that he was not an impostor, who said what he knew to be false with an intent to deceive, I shall endeavour to prove, by showing that he could have no rational motives to undertake such an imposture, por could have possibly carried it on with any success by the means we know he employed.
First, then, the inducement to such an imposture must have been one of these two: either the hope of advancing himself by it in his temporal interest, credit, or power; or the gratification of some of his passions under the authority of it, and by the means it afforded.
Now, these were the circumstances in which St. Paul declared his conversion to the faith of Christ Jesus. That Jesus, who called himself the Messiah, and Son of God, notwithstanding the in