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a great critic and a man of genius. If candour, taste, sensibility and vigour, be essential to genius ; if bursts of eloquence or flights of fancy, however irregular, be found among its characteristics; if extent of information, elevation of views, or profundity of research, mark the boundaries of its course, Gamaliel Smith has little claim to its praise. His genius displays itself, not in investing truth and virtue with new forms, or recommending them by fresh attractions, but in hiding them from the views of mankind under colours borrowed from imposture and falsehood; and its efforts, at least in the present work, instead of reminding us of the elasticity of the eagle stooping from its height and sweeping away its prey with sounding pinions,-points to the low cunning of the serpent in Paradise, when deceiving the mother of mankind, or when coiling in envenomed wreaths about the tree of life, and exerting its impotent malice to blast its verdure and its fruit.
The scheme of personal ambition, in which the pretended conversion of Paul originated, is thus stated by Gamaliel Smith in the second chapter of his book :-“ As the first converts placed their property at the disposal of the Apostles, the worldly affairs of the church soon became very flourishing. Of this flourishing state Saul had all along been a witness. While carrying on against it that persecution, in which, if not the original instigator, he had been a most active instrument, he could not in the course of such his disastrous employment have failed to obtain a considerable insight into the state of their worldly affairs. In the mean time Peter went to Samaria to communicate the holy spirit to the converts in that country; and Simon the magician offered money for obtaining that high privilege. To Paul's alert and busy mind--the offer made by the sorcerer to purchase of the apostles a share in the government of the church, could not have been a secret....But though the bargain proposed by the sorcerer did not take place, this evidence, which the offer of it so clearly affords—this evidence of the value of a situation of that sort in a commercial poin' of view, could not naturally either bave remained : secret to Paul, or failed to engage his attention, and present to his avidity and ambition a ground of speculation-an inviting field of enterprize.” In this state of mind, he obtains a letter from the high priest and elders against the Christians at Damascus. And what was his object? Manifestly to place in his power these same: Christians, to place them in his power, and thereby to obtain from them whatsoever assistance was required by him as necessary for the ulterior prosecution of his schemes.” “On this supposition Paul made known to the Christians at Damascus, his determination not only to spare their persons, but to join with them in their re ligion ; and by taking the lead in it among the heathens to promote it to the utmost of his power. An offer of this nature,—was it in the nature of things that it should be refused? Whatsoever was most dear to them their own personal security, and the sacred interests of the new religion, the zeal of which was flaming in their bosoms, concurred, in pressing it upon their acceptance. With the assistance thus obtained, the plan was--to become a declared convert to the religion of Jesus, for the purpose of setting himself at the head of it; and by means of the expertness he had acquired in the use of the Greek language, to preach in the name of Jesus that sort of religion, by the preaching of which an empire of the minds of his converts, and by that means the power and opulence to which he aspired, might, with the fairest prospect of success, be aimed at."
being among the foremost, at all hazard, to plead the cause of humanity against injustice and oppression ; nor do they often descend to personalities, cxcept to abase Paul, and to extol Jeremy Bentham.
“ But towards the accomplishment of this design, what presented itself as a necessary step, was—the entering into a sort of treaty, and forming, at least in appearance,
a sort of junction, with the leaders of the new religion, and their adherents,—the Apostles and the rest of the disciples. As for them, in acceding to this proposal, on the supposition of any thing like sincerity and consistency on his part, they would naturally see much to gain and nothing to lose : much indeed to gain; no less than peace and security, instead of that persecution, by which, with the exception of the Apostles themselves, the whole fraternity had so lately been driven from their homes, and scattered abroad in various directions." Having gained over the Christians at Damascus to second his views, he goes to Arabia for three years, in order to bury in oblivion the memory of his former conduct, and to " initiate himself in the exercises of preaching and spiritual rule. At the end of that period he returns and presents himself to the rulers of the church, in the metropolis of their spiritual empire, saying, Behold in me no longer a persecutor, but a friend. The persecutor has long vanished; he has given place to the friend. Too true it is, that I was once your persecutor. Years spent in unison with you-years spent in the service of the common cause-have proved me. You see before
you tried man-an ally of tried fidelity : present me as such to your disciples : take me into your councils : all my talent, all my faculties, shall be yours. The land of Israel shall continue, as it has been, the field of your holy labours : the land of the Gentiles shall be mine: we will carry on our operations in concert; innumerable are the ways, in which each of us will derive from the other-information, assistance and support.” p. 70–73.
Such is the account which Gamaliel Smith gives of Paul's conversion, in opposition to that in the Acts of the Apostles. And here the reader will expect two things; one, that he will have some evidence to offer in support of his statement, or he would not hazard the imputation that must necessarily recoil upon him in case the statement itself be found to be untrue; the other is,
that he must intend to set aside the book of the Acts as a mere fiction. With regard to the statement, Gamaliel has no evidence wherewith to support it; nor does he attempt to produce any. He presumes it to be a fact, that the appearance of Jesus, as stated in the Acts, is a fạble; and he gives this hypothesis as the most probable way to account for the fiction : and he modestly calls on his readers for argument sake to allow its truth. With regard to the second, he is inconsistent and absurd enough to make the following concession, “ Not only on the whole does this history (namely the Acts), anonymous as it is, present satisfactory marks of genuineness, that is, of being written by the sort of person it professes to be written by, namely, a person who in the course of Paul's last excursion, was taken into his suite ; but in many parts, so does it of historic verity. True or not true : like any other history ancient or modern, it has a claim to be provisionally taken for true, as to every point, in relation to which no adequate reason appears for the contrary: improbability (for example) of the supposed facts as related, contradictoriness to itself, contradictoriness to other more satisfactory evidence, or probable subjection to sinister and mendacity prompting interest." p. 60.
Now if the scheme which Gamaliel imputes to the Apostle be well founded, almost all the facts recorded in the Acts, not only the miraculous facts, but those in the ordinary course of things, must be false, and as such the fictions of a spurious writer : and on examination we shall find, that he does actually set aside the whole nar rative as improbable, making the standard of this improbability to be no other than the assumption, upon which he proceeds from first to last, namely, that Paul's conversion is an imposture.
In order to prepare the reader for the development of the sinister views, which Gamaliel imputes to the Apostle in the second chapter, he endeavours in the first to prove, that the appearance of Jesus to him is a fable; and his medium of proof is, the improbable nature of the story, and the contradictions or inconsistencies it contains. If we would judge fairly of the probability or improbability of the conversion of Paul, we must not consider it as a naked or isolated event, but in connexion with the events which preceded it, and the end which providence intended to answer by it. If a divine communication was made to Jesus of Nazareth, designed and calculated to reform the world, the choice of a person, like Paul, qualified to fulfill that design, the account of his conversion, though supernatural, cannot be deemed improbable. The other apostles, though not illiterate, were not men of learning. Still less, it is probable, were they acquainted with the state of the heathen world, and therefore little qualified, as far as they could be by human means, to convert the nations. On the other hand, Paul possessed superior talents, which he had cultivated and improved by all the advantages of a refined education, having made himself acquainted not only with the language, but with the literature of Greece. Nor was he fitted for his high destination, less by temper and character, than by talents and cultivation : for he was open, sincere and ardent in his attachments, yet steady and circumspect in his pursuits-patient of injuries, fatigue and hunger-resolute and collected in the face of danger, and capable of sacrificing every personal consideration, every selfish interest, for the attainment of his glorious end. Now whatever evidence renders the Gospel or the history of Christ credible, disposes us to look upon the miraculous story of the Apostle Paul as not incredible : whatever evidence supports the one, lends its full weight in support of the other; so that he who on rational ground believes the miracles and resurrection of Jesus, cannot hesitate to believe his supernatural appearance to Paul. If Gamaliel had been fair and candid, he would have stated these considerations ; or at least given them