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saw enough, indeed, to enable them to bear witness to St. Paul's miraculous conversion, upon which, most probably, their own would follow ; there existed no necessity for them to suffer blindness, and I may add, that St. Paul being blinded by a light which others saw, without feeling any ill effects from it, clearly shews, that St. Paul's blindness was not produced by lightning, or any other natural cause, but was the immediate act of God himself.
10. Nothing seen but the light. “Saw no man. Yes, so says the English version, but the original is more comprehensive; Saw no person says the original, i. e., to speak literally, no person of the masculine gender.--No person, and therefore, no Lord, no God.”—p. 20. If the reader turns to the eighth verse of the ninth chapter of The Acts, he will see how illtimed are the above remarks of Mr. Gamaliel Smith. Paul, it is true, saw no man” after he had been blinded by the supernatural light; but that Jesus manifested himself to St. Paul before the blindness took place, is plainly to be inferred from each of the accounts.
Vision seen by Ananias.
WITH regard to the wonderful fact of St. Paul's conversion to the truth of Christianity, we may truly say, "we are compassed about with a cloud of witnesses." The matter does not rest on one or two insulated circumstances, but is supported by such strong internal, as well as external, evidence, as must carry conviction to every unprejudiced mind. Lest any doubt should exist with any of the disciples at Damascus, respecting the reality of St. Paul's conversion, or lest the report of the vision which he þad seen
seen on the road to Damascus, should be deemed a concerted scheme between St. Paul and his companions, additional testimony was given to the fact by our Lord himself, who appearing in a vision to Ananias at Damascus, directed him to go to the house of one Judas, where he would find Saul praying. The account of this vision is related in the ninth chapter of The Acts, with admirable clearness and simplicity, and is further corroborated by what St. Paul is reported to have said when apprehended at Jerusalem.
The two accounts are as follows:
1st Acts' Account.
CHAP. jx. ver. 17–22.
IX. 17. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; 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. 18. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose and was baptized. 19. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 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 unto the chief priests ? 22 But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.”
St. Paul's Account.
Acts, Chap. xxii. ver. 12-16.
XXII. 12. And one Ananias, a devout man accord ing to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, 13. Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. 14. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his. will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. 15. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men, of what thou hast seen and heard. why tarriest thou ? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
16. And now,
I might safely leave the consistency of the accounts here given to the judgment of every impartial reader, being persuaded that there is not the slightest circumstance in the one, tending to shake the credibility of the other; and I will further venture to affirm that looking at the history given in the ninth chapter of The Acts, there is no rational mode of accounting for the conduct of Ananias, but by supposing the vision he is reported to have seen, to have really taken place. Was it probable that Ananias, who was a disciple of Christ, unless he had been really convinced of the truth of St. Paul's conversion, would have sought out St. Paul. Would he have madly rushed into the arms of one, whom (as appears from the account) he knew to be invested with authority from the chief priests, and to have set out for Damascus with the express design of persecuting the followers of Christ. Most assuredly not. But it may be said, might not Ananias have been deceived through too much credulity; or might he not have mistaken the reveries of his own brain for a vision. Look at the account, and you will find, that instead of possessing that aptitude of belief, which is most liable to imposition, he was slow of heart to believe what the vision declared to him. He doubted not only of the fact of St. Paul's conversion, but expressed his dread of him. “Lord, I have heard by many, (said Ananias,) of this man how much evil he hath done to thy saints in Jerusalem. And here he hath authority from the chief priests, to bind all that call on thy name;" nor was it, till further assured by the vision of the reality of St. Paul's conversion, that he obeyed the command, and went his way and sought out St. Paul. If the vision which Ananias is reported to have seen, had been unreal, how are we to account for his going to the house where St. Paul was? for his telling that Apostle what had occurred to him on his way to Damascus ?, or for St. Paul receiving his sight, and being baptized by Ananias? circumstances which are clearly stated in the history. Again, it may be asked, might not Ananias have been engaged in a concerted plan with St. Paul to impose upon the Jews, and the disciples of Christ, a story of visions which had never had existence? To this I may reply, that such a supposition is not less