« FöregåendeFortsätt »
there really been any such preaching, well might have amazement followed it. But there was no such preaching, therefore no such amazement." Such is the language of Mr. Gamaliel Smith, and to his unproved and unsupported assertions we may safely oppose the well authenticated, long established, testimony afforded to
to St. Paul's preaching, by the author of The Acts of the Apostles.
The Purposes for which the Visions appeared to St. Paul
and Ananias perfectly consistent with the Gospel Revelation.
With regard to the purposes for which Ananias represents St. Paul as chosen by God, they are perfectly consonant with the religion of Jesus, and shew most clearly that St. Paul was invested with such a commission to preach the Gospel as he professed to have. St. Paul, before his conversion, was unacquainted with the will of God, and had approved the deeds of those who had been “the betrayers and murderers of the
Just One," but by the supernatural revelation made to him, the eyes of his understanding were enlightened, the will of God was made known to him, and he was enabled to see the truth as it is in Jesus.” “The God of our fathers” (said Ananias to St. Paul) “ hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth : for thou shalt be his witness unto all men, of what thou hast seen and heard.” The historical account speaks to the same effect, saying, “The Lord said unto him," that is, Ananias, “Go thy way, for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel.” St. Paul also, in giving an account of the purposes, for which the vision appeared to him in the way, represents Jesus as thus addressing him, “ I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister, and a witness, both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” Now if Jesus really did appear to St. Paul for the purposes above-mentioned, and there is every reason to believe that he did, then must St. Paul have been a minister, and an Apostle commissioned by diviné authority; and I can only attribute it to Mr. Gamaliel Smith's unhappy anxiety to disprove St. Paul's Apostolic character, that he has indulged in language, of which mature reflection must, I think, shew him the extreme impropriety. “ To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God.” To his life's. end, says Gamaliel Smith, a man might be hearing such stories as these, and still at the end of it be none the wiser-no additional doctriné-ho additional Gospel — no declaration at all —no Gospel at all here. Not Paul but Jesus, pp. 48, 59. “ That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me;": “this,” says Gamaliel Smith “is not doctrine-this is not Gospel,” p. 49. So far from subscribing to these opinions of Gamaliel Smith, I think the passage in question shews that Paul was commissioned to preach very important doctrinedoctrine perfectly consistent with the religion of Jesus, which informs us, that “through the tender mercy of our God, the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them
that sat in darkness, and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace;" and that, “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” It is a
matter of regret rather than surprise, that there should be found any who can ridicule the most sacred truths, that there are those who hear unmoved "to their lives' end” the most important doctrines, for some
“ love darkness rather than light:”.. but as St. Paul says, “If the Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the god of this world, hath blinded the minds of them which believe hot, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
· Instead, however, of approving, or joining in, the idle cavils of the sceptic, the Christian will exclaim with St. Peter, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant 'mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation"."
* 1 Pet. i. 3, 4.
Mr. Gamaliel Smith argues, that because the account given by St. Paul in one part of The Acts of the Apostles, of the purposes for which God had chosen him, differs in some minute particulars from the account given by the historian of the same matters, when speaking in his own person—the whole is “a fable,” an invented fable, which the author of The Acts did not himself believe; and then he adds, this account, which, in the eyes of the very man by whom it is delivered to us, is but a fable, even 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! O Newton! where was your discernmentb!" Christians will, I doubt not, continue to believe that to be true, which Mr. Gamaliel Smith here calls a fable, notwithstanding the scoffs and sneers of vain and captious sciolists : but of the pretensions of Gamaliel Smith, Esq. to arraign the discernment of Locke and Newton, we shall be better qualified to judge, as we proceed in our enquiry. In the mean time it is satisfactory to remark, that those excellent and enlightened men, applying the great powers of their minds
" Page 50.