he considered his own countrymen as in a state of blindness, merely because they entertained the self-same opinions respecting the novel system of religion, which he had himself once entertained : and that he was quite confident as to the fact of Christ's resurrection; though his whole previous conduct shews incontrovertibly his prior belief, that no such resurrection had really taken place, but that the body had disappeared through some undoubted though inexplicable contrivance of the disciples. His whole character, in short, we may read, delineated to the life by his own hand : and, as to his actions, the greater part of the historical narrative, which appears as a supplement to the four parallel gospels, is occupied in the detail of them.

Such was Paul, once a persecutor, afterward the zealous preacher of the faith which he had sought to destroy.

Now it is obvious, that, in the case of any person, much more in the case of a learned and well educated man, so extraordinary a change of principle and practice could not have occurred except from some adequate cause. The change too is the more remarkable from its suddenness. One moment, he is journeying on the work of extermination : another moment, he sees things under a totally different aspect; and becomes just as eager to build up, as he was before eager to pull down. What then was the cause of this sudden, yet permanent, change: for, when we

see an extraordinary effect, we are irresistibly led to seek an adequate cause ?

Paul himself, always and invariably, persisted in one story. I verily thought with myself, said he, when speaking before Festus and Agrippa, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem : and many of the saints did I shut


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 midday, 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

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, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed, 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. 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 shew light unto the people and unto the Gentiles *.


This narrative, if we suppose it to be accurate, will indeed account most fully for the wonderful and permanent change which took place in the principles and conduct of Paul: but in itself it is so extraordinary, that, upon the first perusal of it, we are scarcely surprized at the exclamation of Festus ; Paul, thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad t. Yet, if we attentively consider the whole case, we shall perhaps find the rejection of it encumbered with greater difficulties, than the admission of it: whence we may possibly find, that it is an easier matter to believe, than to disbelieve, the apostle,

* Acts xxvi. 9-23. Compare Acts xxii. 3—21. Gal. i. 11-24.

+ Acts xxvi. 24.

The reasons for admitting the truth of his narrative, extraordinary as it may be, are these.

It precisely and completely accounts for the otherwise inexplicable fact of his sudden transmutation from an unbeliever and a persecutor to a believer and an apostle.

It is corroborated by the previous character of Paul: for, whether we view him as a scholar or a bigot, we are utterly at a loss to comprehend what his motives could be for fabricating a tale, which ran directly counter both to all his original prejudices and to the object on which he was specially engaged at the time when he professed to have seen the vision.

It is corroborated by the subsequent conduct of Paul: for, if it were a mere fabrication, he would not have shaped his whole life in conformity to what he himself knew to be a lye, nor would he finally have suffered martyrdom for a conscious falshood.

It is confirmed by persons, who witnessed the alleged vision as well as Paul himself: for he was not alone, when he professed to have seen it; his attendants beheld the light, and indistinctly heard the voice which he heard distinctly, and were speechless, and were afraid, and were all as well as the apostle struck down to the ground; they perceived likewise its effects exemplified in the person of Paul, for he became blind, and they themselves were compelled to lead him by the hand to Damascus. Hence, had his narrative been false, they both could and would have contradicted it.

On the other hand, they, who deny the truth of the narrative, stand pledged, by the very act of their denial, to maintain the following paradoxical articles of belief.

They must Lelieve, that a bigoted and inveterate enemy of Christianity, at the very time when he was breathing out threatenings and slaughter against its professors, chose to fabricate a gross falshood, in order that he might use it as a plea for embracing the very religion which he heartily despised and which he furiously hated.

They must believe, that, for the purpose of accomplishing this project, he sacrificed every hope of promotion among the ruling men of his country, and embraced a life of mingled obloquy and labour.

They must believe, that, although he hated Christianity in his heart and deemed it a mere imposture, yet he falsely pretended to have had a vision of its crucified author; and, in support of this known falshood and in furtherance of this hated religion which all the while he viewed as an imposture, he was finally well satisfied to lay down his life.

They must believe, that a sudden change of a most extraordinary nature took place both in his principles and in his practice, not in

consequence of any rational examination of the claims of Christianity to be admitted as a revelation from


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