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terranean sea, together with their antient names, are inserted from Dr. Shaw.
VII. The narrative of the Acts of the Apostles is perspicuous and noble. Though it is not entirely free from Hebraisns, it is in general much purer than that of most other books of the New Testament, particularly in the speeches delivered by Saint Paul at Athens, and before the Roman governors. It is further worthy of remark, that Saint Luke has well supported the character of each person whom he has introduced as speakire Thus the speeches and discourses of Saint Peter are recorded : simplicity, and are destitute of all those ornaments which usually occur in the orations of the Greeks and Romars. Nearly similar arc the speeches of Saint Paul, which were addressed to the Jews, while those delivered by the same apostles before an heathen audience are widely different. Thus, in his discourse delivered at Antioch in Pisidia,” he commences with a long periphrasis, which would not have been either instructive or entertaining in any other place than a Jewish synagogue. On the contrary, the speech. of the martyr Stephen (Acts vii.) is altogether of a different description. It is a learned but unpremeditated discourse, pronounced by a person totally unacquainted with the art of oratory ; and though he certainly had a particular object in view, to which the several parts of his discourse were directed, yet it is difficult to discover this object, because his materials are not regularly disposed. Lastly, Saint Paul's discourses before assemblies that were accustomed to Grecian oratory, are totally different from any of the preceding. Though not adorned with the flowers of rhetoric, the language is pointed and energetic, and the materials are judiciously selected and arranged, as is manisest in his speech delivered at Athens (Acts xvii. 22–31.), and in his two defences of himself before the Roman governors of Judæa. (xxiv. xxvi.) Dr. Benson and Michaelis, however, are both of opinion that Saint Luke has given abstracts only, and not tlie whole, of Saint Paul's speeches ; for in his speech before Felix, he must certainly have said more than is recorded by Saint Luke (xxiv. 12, 13.); unless we suppose that Saint Paul merely denied the charge wbich had been laid against him, without confuting it. Michaelis adds, that in his opinion, Saint Luke has shown great judgment in these abstracts; and that, if he has not retained the very words of Saint Paul, he has adopted such as were well suited to the polished audiences before which the apostle spoke.3
VIII. The Acts of the Apostles afford abundant evidence of the truth and divine original of the Christian religion; for we learn from this book, that the Gospel was not indebted for its success to deceit or fraud, but that it was wholly the result of the mighty power of God, and of the excellence and efficacy of the saving truths which it contains. The general and particular doctrines, comprised in the
1 Travels in Barbary, vol. ii. p. 131. 3d edit. 2 Acts xiii. 16-41.
3 Michaelis, vol. iii. part i. pp. 331—335. Benson's History of the First Planting of Christianity, vol. ii. p. 258.
Acts of the Apostles, are perfectly in unison with the glorious truths revealed in the Gospels, and illustrated in the apostolic Epistles; and are admirably suited to the state of the persons, whether Jews or Gentiles to whom they were addressed. And the evidences which the apostles gave of their doctrine, in their appeals to prophecies and miracles, and the various gifts of the Spirit, were so numerous and so strong, and at the same time so admirably adapted to every class of persons, that the truth of the religion, which they attest, cannot be reasonably disputed.
Further, the history itself is credible. It was written by a person who was acquainted with the various circumstances which he relates, and who was both able and disposed to give a faithful narrative of every thing that occurred. Saint Luke was a companion of the apostles ; he was himself an eye and ear witness of the facts, and was personally concerned in many of the incidents he has recorded. In the history itself there are no inconsistencies or contradictions ; the miraculous facts related in it are neither impossible, when we consider the almighty power of God to which they are ascribed, nor improbable, when we consider the grand design and occasion on account of which they were performed. The plainness and simplicity of the narrative are also strong circumstances in its favour. The writer appears to have been very honest and impartial, and to have set down fairly the objections which were made to Christianity both by Jews and Heathens, and the reflections which were cast upon it, as well as upon its first preachers. He has likewise, with a just and ingenuous freedom, mentioned the weaknesses, faults, and prejudices, both of the apostles and of their converts. The occasional hints, which are dispersed through the epistles of Saint Paul, harmonise with the facts related in the history of the Acts of the Apostles ; so that this history is the best guide we can have in studying the epistles. The other parts of the New Testament are in perfect unison with the history, and tend to confirm it ; for the doctrines and principles are every where the same. The Gospels close with references to the facts recorded in the Acts, particularly the promise of the Holy Spirit, which we know from the Acts was poured out by Christ upon his disciples after his ascension; and the Epistles, generally, plainly suppose that those facts had actually occurred, which the history relates. So that the history of the Acts is one of the most important parts of sacred history ; for, without it, neither the Gospels nor the Epistles could have been so clearly understood ; but by the aid of this book the whole scheme of the Christian revelation is set before us in a clear and easy view.' Lastly, the incidental circumstances, mentioned by Saint Luke, correspond so exactly, and without any previous view to such a correspondence (in cases too where it could not possibly have been premeditated and precontrived), with the accounts that occur in the
The subject of these coincidences has already been noticed in Vol. I. pp. 104. 107.
supra Dr. Paley's Horæ Paulinæ amplifies the argument above suggested. and is indispensably necessary to a critical study of the Epistles.
Epistles, and with those of the best ancient historians, both Jews and Heathens, that no person who had forged such a history, in later ages, could have had the same external confirmation ; but he must have betrayed himself, by alluding to some customs or opinions which have since sprung up, or by misrepresenting some circumstances, or using some phrase or expression not then in use. The plea of forgery therefore, in later ages, cannot be allowed ; and if Saint Luke had published such a history at so early a period, when some of the apostles, or many other persons concerned in the transactions which he has recorded, were alive, and his account had not been true, he would only have exposed himself to an easy confutation, and to certain infamy.
Since, therefore, the Acts of the Apostles are in themselves consistent and uniform; the incidental relations agreeable to the best antient historians that have come down to us; and the main facts supported and confirmed by the other books of the New Testament, as well as by the unanimous testimony of so many of the antient fathers, we are justly authorised to conclude, that, if any history of former times deserves credit, the Acts of the Apostles ought to be received and credited ; and if the history of the Acts of the Apostles is true, Christianity cannot be false : for a doctrine, so good in itself, so admirably adapted to the fallen state of man, and attended with so many miraculous and divine testimonies, has all the possible marks of a true revelation.
1 Dr. Benson's Hist. of Christianity, vol. ii. pp. 333–341.
ON THE EPISTOLARY OR DOCTRINAL WRITINGS OF THE NEW TES,
TAMENT, PARTICULARLY THOSE OF SAINT PAUL.
ACCOUNT OF THE APOSTLE PAUL. I. The birth and education of Saint Paul — his persecution of the disciples of Christ — and his conversion. — Observations upon it
. - II. His subsequent travels and labours, to his second visit to Jerusalem. — III. His third visit to Jerusalem, and subsequent labours, to his fourth visit to Jerusalem. — IV. His journies and labours, to his fifth visit to Jerusalem. – V. To his first imprisonment at Rome. - VI. His subsequent journies, second imprisonment, and martyrdom.- VII. Character of Saint Paul. – VIII.
Observations on the style of his writings. I. SAUL, also called Paul, (by which name this illustrious apostle was generally known after his preaching among the Gentiles, especially among the Greeks and Romans,) was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, a descendant of the patriarch Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin, and a native of Tarsus, then the chief city of Cilicia. By birth he was a citizen of Rome,' a distinguished honour and privilege, which had been conferred on some of his ancestors for services rendered to the commonwealth during the wars. His father was a Pharisee, and he himself was educated in the most rigid principles of that sect.3 His sister's son and some others of his relations were Christians, and had embraced the Gospel before his conversion. That he was early educated in Greek literature at Tarsus, may be inferred from that place being celebrated for polite learning, and also from his quotations of several Greek poets. From Tarsus, Saul removed to Jerusalem, where he made considerable proficiency in tlie study of the law, and the Jewish traditions, under Gamaliel
1 Phil. iii. 5. 2 Cor. xi. 22. Acts xvi. 37, 38. xxii. 25. 29. xxiii. 37.
2 Dr. Lardner has shown that this is the most probable opinion. Works, &vo. vol. i. pp. 227–229.: 4to. vol. i. pp. 124, 125. Such also is the opinion of John Arntzenius, who has written an elegant dissertation on Saint Paul's citizenship. See his Dissertationes Binæ, p. 195. Utrecht, 1725.
3 Acts xxiii. 6. xxvi. 5. Phil. iii. 5.
5 Strabo the geographer, who lived in the same age as Saint Paul, characterises the inhabitants of Tarsus as cherishing such a passion for philosophy and all the branches of polite literature, that they greatly excelled even Athens and Alexandria, and every other place where there were schools and academies for philosophy and literature. He adds, that the natives of Tarsus were in the practice of going abroad to other cities to perfect themselves. (Lib. xiv. vol. ii. pp. 960), 961. edit. Oxon.) This circumstance accounts for Saint Paul's going to Jerusalem, to finish his studies under Gamaliel.
6 Thus, in Acts xvii. 28. he cites a verse from Aratus ; in 1 Cor. xv. 33. another from Menander ; and in Tit. i. 12. a verse from Epimenides. See an illustration of this last passage, supra. Vol. I. pp. 195, 196.