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.SERM. and brought him to Damascus; and he A continued blind for three days, and neither
did eat nor drink. But after three days were past, he was visited, by the command of God, by a devout Christian called Ananias, and at his word received his sight, Vmmediately from that time he became obedient to the heavenly vision, and was as remarkably active and zealous in supporting and propagating Christianity, as he had formerly been in opposing and persecuting it. His whole life was spent in labours and travels for this divine pur. pose;" *difficulties, dangers, sufferings of every kind, "he voluntarily and joyfully encountered for this end; and he finally laid down his life in the same glorious cause...
Such are the outlines of the history of this illustrious apostle; it forms one among many invincible proofs of the truth of our religion. Here is a man strongly
attached to a particular cause, with all the SERM. prejudices of birth and education in its favour; in the same proportion also he is 'adverse 'to another cause, which he looks on as entirely opposite to his own'; he has openly shewn both his friendship and his "enmity, nay, he has gone so far as to solicit a public commission, by which he "might be able more effectually to gratify "them. Yet in the midst of all his zeal, we behold him suddenly changing his sentiments, and labouring and preaching in 'favour of "thát very religion, which he had set out, determined to overthrow.
Now to what can we attribute this, but to the strongest conviction of his former mistaken notions, “and of the justice of those which he had now adopted. He could possibly have no other motive for doing what he did, but the strongest per. suasion that it was right. He could not "hope either to gain riches or honour by
SERM. this change ; on the contrary, he was cerir tain to forfeit both; the party which he
left were in the possession of all worldly goods, the party he embraced were entirely destitute ; from the former he could expect nothing but abuse, enmity, and persecution (which we find he constantly experienced) - from the latter, who were poor and weak, and whose numbers were comparatively very small, he could neither look for support nor protection. He could not change his religion with a view of becoming great and powerful in that party to whom he betook himself; for we do not find him ever asserting any.superiority over them, or pretending to any thing more than , independence; on the contrary, he constantly acknowledges how blameable he had formerly been in afflicting the Christians, and names himself, on that account, less than the least of the apostles; . besides, eminence in this new
sect was certainly not an object of ambi- SERM. tion to a reasonable man, who was not thoi roughly convinced of the truth of their opinions; for, in so poor and despised a society, it could confer no worldly advantages, but only exposed those who might attain it, to more severe and inevitable persecution. .
It is clear then, that no other adequate motive can be assigned for St. Paul's conversion, but his being persuaded of its justice ; - the conclusion therefore is, that he firmly believed the Christian religion, which he embraced, to be sent from God. But perhaps an enemy to our faith might say - that St. Paul was deceived, that the whole was a trick put upon him, and contrived by the Christians to gain over to their party so active an adversary; - but I will be bold to say that the circumstances of the case were such as to render this absolutely impossible. A company of men
. . . .tra.
SERM. travelling along the high road at noon-day, XIX.
are all of a sudden struck to the ground by a great light, exceeding the brightness, of the sun-they all see the light and hear, a voice but only one of them, St. Paule distinctly understands what is said; upon their arising from the ground, St. Paul is
found to be totally blind, and those who | are with him are obliged to take him by
the hand and lead him to the city, whither they are going; he continues blind for three days, till his sight is wonderfully restored at the word of a devout person, of whose coming and doing ħin this be nevolent office he is before, apprized in a vision ; he is likewise, informed by the same person, that he is a chosen instru. ment to preach the religion of Christ, throughout the world. Now in all this, there could possibly be no deception; therefore St. Paul became a Christian on just and sure grounds and the Christian religion is true,