Imatges de pÓgina

sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith which is in me. Having thus spoken, he added, as Luke informs us, Acts ix. 6. 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, (axɣovtes Mev ons Qwvns) hearing indeed his voice, but seeing no man.* They heard Saul's voice, but did not see the person to whom he spake. 8. And Saul arose from the earth, and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man. Saul having looked steadfastly on Jesus, before he fell to the ground the second time, was struck blind by the brightness of his appearance. So he says, Acts xxii. 11. When I could not see for the glory of that light. But his companions, lying all the while with their faces towards the earth, did not see Jesus; so that their eye-sight remaining, Acts ix. 8. They led Saul by the hand, and brought him to Damascus, to the house of one Judas, ver. 11. with whom it seems they were acquainted, Here Saul abode three days absolutely blind, without either eating or drinking, ver. 9.-If Saul's companions, by what had happened and by what he told them, were induced to alter their faith concerning Jesus of Nazareth, they would remain with Saul to assist and comfort him in his disconsolate state. But if they continued in their former persuasion, they would return to Jerusalem, and inform the high-priest and council, of what had happened.

Saul's long continued fast, was a natural expression of his bitter grief, for having persecuted the disciples of Jesus. With fasting he joined fervent and often repeated prayer, perhaps to Jesus; in which he made unfeigned confession of his sin, in persecuting him, and earnest supplication for pardon : all which being certain signs of his repentance, they were mentioned by Christ himself as such, Acts ix. 11.-During his three days blindness and fasting, Saul was instructed by visions and revelations from the Lord, agreeably to what was promised him, That in Damascus


Hearing indeed his voice, but seeing no man. This translation removes the difficulty arising from Saul's account of the matter to the council, Acts xxii. 9. And they that were with me, saw indeed the light, aud were afraid, but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me. Or, this opposition may be removed, by translating & av, They understood not the voice of him that spake to me; so an is used 1 Cor. xv. 2.-The same thing happened when a voice came to our Lord from the Father, John xii. 29. the people that stood by heard the voice, but not understanding what was spoken, said it thundered.

it should be told him what he was to do. One vision of this kind is expressly mentioned, in which the restoration of his sight by Ananias, was foretold to him, while perhaps he was praying for that very blessing. Acts ix. 12. And hath seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.

This Ananias, before his conversion to christianity, had lived so conformably to the law, that he was much esteemed by all the Jews who dwelt in Damascus. Acts xxii. 12. And after his conversion, his piety being equally conspicuous, he was a person of great note among the brethren also. To him Jesus appeared in a vision, on the third day of Saul's fast, and ordered him to go into the house of Judas, and inquire for Saul of Tarsus; of whom he needed no longer be afraid, because he was spending his time in prayer for the pardon of his sin in persecuting the saints; and because Ananias himself had beca shewn to him in a vision, as sent to cure his sight. Wherefore Ananias, laying aside his fears, went forthwith into the house of Judas, Acts ix. 19. And putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (No. IV.) 18. And immediately there fell from his eyes, as if it had been scales. And he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized, in token of his faith, and repentance, and pardon. And since Ananias told him, he was sent that he might both receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Ghost, we may believe that after his baptism, the Holy Ghost fell upon him in some visible manner, as upon the other apostles at the first; so that Saul was in nothing inferior to the very greatest apostles, 2 Cor. xi. 5. For, as we shall see afterwards, he enjoyed the inspiration of the Spirit, the power of working miracles, the discerning of spirits, and the gift of tongues, in as ample a manner as any of the apostles: by all which he was not only fitted for being an apostle of Christ, but plainly declared to be so.

The miraculous restoration of Saul's sight, his baptism, and the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, being undoubted pledges of his pardon and reconciliation with Christ, he put an end to his long fast, and was comforted. Acts ix. 19. And when he had received meat he was strengthened. He received his bodily strength, which had been impaired by his long fast, as well as by what had happened to him in the way.

In this miraculous manner was Saul, in the very height of his rage against the saints, converted, and made an apostle of Jesus Christ, and called to preach that very faith which he had been so zealous to destroy.

The choice of Saul to be an apostle, was proper on many accounts. For in the First place, His conversion added great lustre to the evidences of Christ's resurrection from the dead. Saul had persecuted all who preached that miracle. Wherefore when he himself went over to the persecuted party, and published Christ's resurrection, with greater earnestnes and diligence than any of them, every impartial person must have been sensible, that such an alteration of sentiment and conduct in a person of Saul's good sense, and learning, and zeal, and that at the very time he was breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, could not possibly have happened, unless he had actually received that unquestionable evidence of Christ's resurrection from the dead, which he affirmed had been given him, by Christ's appearing to him personally in the body, as he went to Damascus, and by conferring upon him the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is true, the appearing of Jesus in the body might seem to many an improbable story. Yet, as by the miracles which Saul performed, he gave convincing proofs that Christ had bestowed on him the gift of the Holy Ghost, no reasonable person after that, could doubt of his having appeared to him, as Saul constantly affirmed.

Secondly, Saul possessed every natural qualification necessary to the successful discharge of the difficult work of an apostle of Jesus Christ. He was a person of an excellent understanding, whereby he was able to judge rightly of matters. He was remarkable for his address*, in managing the humours of those with whom he had to do. His courage was such as enabled him to face the greatest dangers: his industry in prosecuting the most laborious and difficult enterprizes, was unwearied: And his patience was equal to his industry, fitting him to bear the heaviest sufferings, however long continued. On all which accounts,

* Upon this part of his character, Lord Shaftesbury has paid Saul an handsome compliment, Charact. i. p. 30. "When I consider the apostle


as appearing either before the witty Athenians, or before a Roman Court "of Judicature in the presence of their great men and ladies, I see how 'handsomely he accommodate th himself to the apprehension and temper "of these polite people."


there was perhaps no Jew of his age better qualified by nature, for undertaking those long journeys, and for enduring those hardships and persecutions, which the Christian preachers were obliged to undergo in propagating the gospel.

Thirdly, Saul's moral character was such as brought no discredit upon the office to which he was now chosen. From his youth up, he had been remarkable for purity of manners, and zeal for the interests of truth and virtue. It is true, when he came of an age fit to engage in affairs, his zeal hurried him too far, when it led him to persecute the Christians; but the prejudices of his education, and the example of his brethren of the sect of the Pharisees, had so blinded him, that he believed Jesus to be an impostor, and thought himself bound to put his disciples to death Acts xxvi. 9. : I verily thought I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Wherefore, having acted in this matter from principle, he could safely tell the Jewish council, many of whom knew his doings against the saints, Acts xxiii. 1. I have lived in all good conscience before God, unto this day. Nay, he could say to Timothy, i. 13. I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly, in unbelief. Saul's general conduct, having thus been all along irreproachable, he was able to execute his new office, with all that dignity and weight, which results from excellence of character.

Fourthly, Since the gospel was to be offered, both to the Jews and to the Gentiles, as a revelation from the same God who had spoken to the Jews by the prophets, it was necessary that it should be preached to both, by such a person as Saul, who being of the Jewish nation, and thoroughly educated in the knowledge of their sacred writings under Gamaliel, the most noted doctor of his time, was by his great talents and education, as well as by his inspiration, qualified to convince both Jews and Gentiles, that the things done, and taught, and suffered by Jesus, were all foretold in these writings: and had happened exactly as they were foretold. So that in this method of offering the gospel to the world, all were made sensible, that it did not destroy the law and the prophets, but fulfil them.

Thus it appears that Saul was truly what Jesus termed him, Acts ix. 15. A chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.

Luke has not mentioned any date, by which we can with certainty fix, either Saul's age at his conversion, or the particular year in which that remarkable event happened; nevertheless,

from some circumstances taken notice of in the history, learned men have gathered that it happened in the end of A. D. 36. or in the beginning of A. D. 37. when Saul was about 34 years of age. See No. V. and No. VII.


The History of Saul from his Conversion, to his Departure from Antioch to preach the Gospel to the idolatrous Gentiles.

THE supernatural brightness of the light which issued from the body of Jesus, and which struck Saul blind; the visions and revelations made to him, during his blindness; the miraculous restoration of his sight by Ananias, whom Jesus sent to him for that purpose; and the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him, in the plenitude of his gifts, produced in Saul's mind such a full conviction, as left him no room to doubt that Jesus of Nazareth had really appeared to him, and that he was the Christ; and at the same time, banished all hesitation with respect to the cause he was now called to maintain. He therefore resolved to spend his life in the service of Christ. In the prosecution of this resolution he had no occasion to converse with any person, because according to Christ's promise, it was told him in Damascus, what he was to do. Accordingly Gal. i. 16. He did not converse with flesh and blood, neither did he go up to Jerusalem to them who were apostles before him, to be instructed in the Christian doctrine, or to be confirmed in his new office; but Acts ix. 20. Straightway he preached Christ in the Synagogues, (No. VI.) that he is the Son of God, foretold Psalm ii. 7.-Acts ix. 21. But all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?

Soon after this Saul went into Arabia (Gal. i. 17.) where there were few Christians, and none of them of any note. This course, we may believe he took by the direction of Christ, who sent him into that country, to instruct him in the duties of his office, and in the doctrines of the gospel, by immediate revelation. The truth is, now that the Lord Jesus was gone to heaven, this was the only proper method of training an apostle. For if the ministry of men had been used in instructing Saul, he would have been considered as an apostle of men, and on that account might have been reckoned inferior to the other apostles, who were all instructed by Christ himself. In Arabia therefore Saul continued more than

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