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6 And he, trembling and astonished, said, Lord, what Near Dariod, 4748. wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, mascus. Vulgar Æra, 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, hearing a voice, but seeing no man 63.
8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes
thority than that of Scripture itself. Moses uses it when he
63 This verse bears the appearance of differing with the parallel
In this verse the word seems to be used in the same sense as chap. ii. 2. (see the note in loc.) with reference to the thunder, which usually accompanied the Bath Col, or voice from heaven; in chap. xxii. 9. it more particularly relates to the voice itself, which the attendants of St. Paul, in consequence of their alarm and confusion, did not hear, or if they did, without rightly understanding it.
Beza, Vatablus, and Clarius think that they heard Saul's voice, but not that of Christ. Dr. Benson, as aкovεiv often sig. nifies to understand, supposes these attendants were Hellenist Jews, who did not understand the Hebrew, which was the language in which Christ addressed Paul. Dr. Whitby and Dr. Doddridge, that the voice from heaven was taken for thunder. -Doddridge, vol. ii. p. 36.
For further solutions of the difficulty, see Wolfius Curæ Phil. vol. ii. p. 1138. Bishop Barrington, Dr. Weston, and others, ap. Bowyer, and the commentators.
The Jews say that God three times spoke to Moses, Aaron being by and not hearing the voice: in Egypt, Exod. vi. 28. in Mount Sinai, Num. iii. 1. and in Levit. i. 1.
The same mode of expression is used in Schemoth Rabba, sect. ii. fol. 104. 3. in Exod. ii. 2. "The angel of the Lord appeared to him." Why is it thus said so expressly x to him, because other men were with him, but none of these saw any thing but Moses only. So also in Dan. x. 7.
64 He lost his sight from the glory of that light.
Michaelis, in Richteri chirurgischer Bibliothek, b. vi. p. 732. ap. Kuinoel, relates, that an African struck with lightning lost bis sight, but recovered it suddenly.
In the Critici Sacri is a treatise on the blindness of St. Paul, considered in its origin, continuance, and cure.
Jortin remarks, that the miracle by which St. Paul was instructed and converted, has been thought by some to be of the emblematic and prophetic kind, and to indicate the future call
SAUL IS CONVERTED-CHAP. IX.
9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did Near Daried, 4748. eat nor drink 65. Valgar Era,
ing of the Jews; so that Paul the persecutor, and Paul the
St. Paul, though the apostle of the Gentiles, never cast off his
St. Paul, for opposing Jesus Christ, was struck blind; but upon his repentance he received his sight-so were the Jews, for their rebellion, smitten with spiritual blindness, which shall be removed when they are received again into favour.
St. Paul was called miraculously, and by the glorious manifestation of Christ himself, and was instructed by the same Divine Master: such will perhaps be the conversion and the illumination of the Jews.
St. Paul was called the last of the apostles-the Jews will certainly enter late into the Church.
St. Paul was the most active, laborious, and successful of all the disciples: such perhaps the Jews also shall be after their conversion. But these are rather conjectures of what may be, than discoveries of what must come to pass (a).
(a) See Jortin's Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, works, vol. ii. p. 14. and Mede's works, book v. p. 891, 892. as well as book iv. epist. xvii. p. 768. Jortin does not mention Mede, who has considered the parallel at greater length.
65 From the manner in which the conversion of St. Paul is related by St. Luke, many have been led to suppose that all those who are really Christians, must receive and retain some sensible impression of their conversion; and consequently remember the exact time or moment in which it took place. Others again argue, that St. Paul was selected from the rest of mankind as Abraham, Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles, were for the especial purpose of promoting the designs of Providence in effecting the redemption of mankind; and therefore that it affords no sanction for the expectation of any sudden or miraculous conversion for others. Both parties insist with equal carnestness and sincerity in enforcing the doctrine of Scripture, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord:" but one would look for conversion in some momentary operation of the Spirit of God, without any previous preparation in the heart or conduct of the individual; the other on the contrary would rather seek it in the study of the Scriptures, and in the dne observance of the progressive and appointed means of grace which are given to all, as necessary to salvation, and which are always attended with the influences of the Holy Spirit.
The former, who believes that God more frequently impresses the mind by some sudden impulse, does not deny that it may sometimes happen, that individuals may be so educated and brought up, that they shall be sanctified from the womb. Thus the celebrated Annesly, the non-conformist divine, declared that he never remembered to have been converted. On the other side it is equally acknowledged, that it may please the same God who miraculously converted St. Paul, to impress in the most unexpected and peculiar manner the mind of any individual, at any time it may seem good to his Providence to do so. He
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus,
would not, for instance, assert that it was impossible that Con-
Christianity, it must ever be remembered, is not a system of
The real question to be decided then is, whether he is most right who expects the influences of the Spirit to be conveyed to him through the means of those solemn ordinances which God Himself has ordained, gradually accomplishing that change of heart, without which spiritual happiness cannot be attained; or whether that opinion is to be preferred, which leads to the anticipation of some sudden impression producing the same effect independent of a humble attendance on the means of grace, in obedience to the Divine will.
I am convinced, that if Christians who believe in the doctrines
SAUL IS BAPTIZED-CHAP. IX.
Julian Pe- named Ananias: and to him said the Lord in a vision, Damascus. riod, 4748. Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. ValgarÆra,
of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, and the absolute
It will be acknowledged by all that a due regard at least is
Man at his creation was made perfect; the spiritual triumphing over the inferior nature. When he fell, the earthly or animal nature predominated. As his descendants we are made partakers of the same earthly and animal nature-we are born with it-its existence constitutes our original sin-we are subject to its penalties, and rendered totally unfit for a spiritual immortality hereafter.
The system of revelation is the plan for restoring man to God, by renewing within him that spiritual nature which he lost by the fall of his first parent.
The manner in which this important object is to be accomplished, has ever been the same. It is faith in the atonement of one Redeemer, the manifested God of the Patriarchs, Jews, and Christians, producing holiness of life.
The manner in which this faith is made effectual, has ever been the same. Outward means of grace were instituted from the moment of the expulsion from Paradise. Where these external ordinances have been observed through faith, and in compliance with the revealed will of God, his influences have uniformly been imparted, and a spiritual change of heart imperceptibly and gradually accomplished.
The Spirit of God however is not confined to means. The Omnipotence of God is not limited to the measures he has himself revealed or ordained. It is impossible therefore not to believe that the death of a friend or relative, a lingering illness, or any other affliction or circumstance, may not, through divine grace, be made the instrument of salvation, and turn our hearts from this world to serve the living God. But few will hesitate to join with me in the conclusion, that the divine blessing is to be more generally found in those significant and solemn institutions, which The Way-The Truth-and The Life Himself appointed.
This is not the place to enter further into this controversy. The ancient fathers, the reformers in general, and the Church of England at present, make the commencement of our acceptance with God (by whatever name, conversion or regeneration, we may call it,) to begin with baptism; and that the influences of the Holy Spirit continue with the Christian through life, to complete the work of justification, to renovate him when he falls, to preserve him in temptation, and to support him in death, unless those influences are quenched by wilful, repeated, deliberate, and persevering sin. This system, which makes our Christian life begin with certain feelings in maturer years,
11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the Damascus. riod, 4748. street which is called Straight, and inquire in the house Vulgar Era,
makes the question concerning baptism so very important. The
Since the Scripture and the means of grace have been