網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

cause.

affair before the brethren, as an event brought about by the direction of God and sanctioned by the holy spirit. Inasmuch as God gave them (the Gentiles) the like gift as he did unto us (Jews) who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that could resist God ?” With this argument, which was at once conclusive, the disciples, it is said, “were satisfied and gave God the praise.” Acts xi. 17, 18. Such was the unanimity which at first subsisted and continued to subsist between Paul and Peter, and such the admirable systematic prudence with which they concurred in promoting the common

The scheme evidently originated with the former; and the wise precaution which he thus adopted, of shielding himself against overwhelming bigotry and violence, and of opening a door for his future success, shows that his heart was as free from jealousy, as bis head was illumined with knowledge and sober discretion.

The harmony both in temper and doctrine subsisting between Paul and the other Apostles, was indeed so notorious and incontrovertible, that the impostors who opposed him in the several churches, endeavoured to degrade him as an emissary or subaltern commissioned by them. The concern which Ananias was known to have taken in his conversion, seems also to have been laid hold of as a plea for saying that Paul had not the honour of a personal interview with Christ. His language to the Galatians seems to have been directed against some such representations as these : “Paul an Apostle not from men, nor through man,-nor did I receive this gospel from man, nor was I taught of man.Luke was aware of attempts like these to degrade his illustrious friend : and though he holds forth Ananias as instrumental in restoring his sight, and administering baptism to him, he takes care to make it a prominent fact, that he received his commission and power immediately from Christ himself. 66 And the Lord said unto him (to Ananias), Go, for this man is a vessel of my

choice, to carry my name before the nations, and kings, and the children of Israel. For I (myself and not you) will instruct him what things he must do and suffer for my name sake*. And Ananias went and entered the house; and having put his hands on him, he said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to thee in the way thou camest, that thou mightest recover thy sight and be filled with the holy spirit.” Accordingly Ananias went, restored to Saul his sight, and baptized him in the name of the Lord Jesus : and though a promise of the holy spirit is here held out to him, Ananias is not made the honourable instrument of communicating it; and here we see an instance so remote from common apprehension, yet so characteristic, that it could hardly have suggested itself to the writer, had not the whole story been founded in truth: for it was an established plan of divine wisdom, that none but the Apostles or Jesus himself would communicate the holy spirit to any of the converts.

The narrative of Luke implies, that the holy spirit was soon to be imparted to Paul by Jesus himself. This power we have seen was given to the Apostles only, and through them to such of the converts as might be qualified to receive it by their sincerity and virtue. Moreover, this power was given only in the name of Jesus, and was to be considered as a seal from heaven, that the resurrection, ascension, and second coming of Christ to raise the dead and judge the world, as preached by the Apostle, were founded in truth. Paul, when he returned to Jerusalem, must have given the Apostles ocular proofs that he was possessed of this same power. And this evidence left them no room to doubt, that their divine master had really appeared to Paul, and communicated to him the commission which he professed to

* The verb today in its widest sense signifies to be affected either as an agent or a sufferer.

In the Aves of Aristophanes, it means to do, verse 1044. See Jones's (ireek and English Lexicon, under raoxw.

1

have received. Accordingly, we find Paul himself, with equal truth and confidence, asserting the fact.“ But on the contrary, when James and Cephas and John saw that the gospel of uncircumcision was committed to me, as that of the circumcision was to Peter-for he who wrought with power in Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision, wrought with the same power also in me toward the Gentiles-when these men, I say, who are deemed pillars, perceive the favour (the divine power) which was bestowed on me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision : only that we should remember the poor, which very thing I also was anxious to do." Gal. ii. 7.

Now, reader, look back and see whether it be true, as Gamaliel asserts, that Paul in his letter to the Galatians makes no allusion to his miraculous conversion as stated in the Acts ? Or rather does he not proceed on the truth of it? does he not recognise it in all its leading features, and confirm it with a minuteness and consistence that exclude the possibility of falsehood? Luke and Paul did not write in concert : as they did not seek illustration or evidence from each other, the harmony observable between them must have proceeded from the actual occurrence of the events related. What then shall we say to the following representation of Gamaliel ? “ Truly, then, of his own making was this Gospel which Paul went preaching; of his own making as well as of his own using ; that Gospel which he himself declares to his Galatians was not of man, was not therefore of those Apostles, to whom the opposition made by him is thus proclaimed. When after having given in his own person an account of a supposed occurrencean historian on another occasion, takes up the same occurrence; and in the person of another individual, gives of that same occurrence another account different from, and so different from, as to be irreconcileable with, it; can this historian, with any propriety, he said to be himself a believer in this second account which he thus gives ? Instead of giving it as a true account, does he not, at any rate, in respect of all the several distinguishable circumstances in which it differs from the account given in his own person--give it in the character of a fable ? A fable invented on the occasion on which the other person is supposed to speak,-invented in the intent that it shall promote the purpose for which this speech is supposed to be made ? Yet this account, which in the eyes of the very man by whom it is delivered to us is but a fable, even to those to whom in this same character of a fable it is delivered this account it is that Christians have thus long persisted in regarding, supporting, and acting upon, as if it were from beginning to end a truth-a great body of truth. O Locke! 0 Newton ! where was your discernment !” p. 47, 48.

* From the place in which Paul makes this statement, we might suppose that the Apostles gave him the right hand of fellowship, when he was now come to Jerusalem as a deputy from Antioch. But this was more than fourteen years after he had begun his ministry as Apostle of the Gentiles. The time therefore when this communication happened, must have been at his first visit to Jerusalem, when he conferred with Peter, and wheu he was going to commence his arduous undertaking. Nor can any reasonable objection be made to this, from the circumstance that Paul speaks of it in connection with events of a much later date: for he is here not the writer of history, which requires things to be related in a chronological series, but of a letter, which allowed him to state facts of importance to his object, without any regard to the order of time. On his first visit to Jerusalem, it seems John was not there during the fifteen days of his continuance: but he must either have been at Cæsarea, or in some other city, wben Paul met him in his way to Tarsus; and at this meeting John gave him the right hand of fellowship, as James and Peter had done a little hefore in Jerus sulem.

This jargon, this disgusting tissue of absurdities and falsehoods, is founded in the puerile blunder already pointed out, that the impostors, who sought to undermine the Gospel at Galatia, were the same with the Apostles; nor has a syllable of it any existence but in the brain of Gamaliel Smith. The apostrophe to Newton must remind the reader of the boy, who thought him a ridiculous trifler when seeking to elicit the secrets of nature by his profound experiments on light. His youth and want of education might excuse the urchin : but what apology can be made for Gamaliel? What language can be applied to him with so much propriety as that of him whom he maliciously slanders, “ Professing himself wiser than others he became a fool.”

CHAPTER III.

The Apostolic decree sent to Antioch explained.--The

question proposed to the Apostles by the Gentile converts, Whether the Gospel of Paul was the same with that of Jesus, decided in the affirmative by them.-Paul defended from the charge of perjury in taking the vow.

Paul appears to have visited Jerusalem four times during his ministry. These visits Gamaliel designates by different names, according to the objects which be imputes to the Apostle in paying those visits. The first was the reconciliation-visit; the second was the moneybringing visit mentioned in Acts xi. 30; the third was the deputation-visit from Antioch; the fourth and last he calls the invasion-visit, meaning that visit of Paul, by which his arrestation, and consequent visit to Rome in a state of confinement, was produced.“ Invasion,” says he, “ it may well be termed: the object of it having manifestly been, the making in that original metropolis of the Christian world, spiritual conquests, at the expense of the gentle sway of the Apostles.” p. 96.

« 上一頁繼續 »