CONVERSION OF SAUL OF TARSUS.
Conversion of great minds and weak.—Saul of Tarsus converted.—Undeniableness of the change.—Nature of it.—A new direction given to the character.—As before, so after conversion, Saul evinced respect for law; conscientiousness; zeal for God; desire of proselytism; energy of purpose.—Sincerity of the change; evinced by sacrifices involved.—Manner of the change.—The narrative accepted by Christians.—Answers to sceptics.—Not a falsehood; not an imposture; not fanaticism; not enthusiasm; not self-deception; not desire for posthumous fame.
"And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus; and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven; and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished, said, Lord, What wilt thou have me to do? . . Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God."
Acts ix. 1—20.
THE conversion of a great mind may be an event more important than the capture of a city, or the founding of an empire. The city may not be materially affected in its order or its prosperity by a change of masters; and the empire that is founded will decay. It is mind that effects the great changes in human things; and the influence of a single mind may be such that, while all other things change and decay, that will never die. The cities and empires founded by Semiramis, Cyrus, Alexander, Tamerlane, have long since ceased to exist; the influence of Plato still lives.
Changes of a radical character in truly great minds do not often occur; perhaps rarely, except on the subject of religion,—or that which constitutes a transition from sin to holiness; from infidelity to faith; from a high purpose of ambition to a desire of serving the Redeemer; from schemes of conquest to plans of charity; from some absorbing worldly passion to zeal for doing good. Augustine, Chrysostom, Origen, Martin Luther, Henry Martyn, furnish examples of such changes. They were men, who in worldly pursuits would have been great, but who abandoned what was brilliant in prospect for another service—a service which equally demanded all their powers; a service which (while such was no longer the leading purpose of their lives) would make them widely known,—would make them "great" in the new department of effort, as they would have been in another sphere if their course of life had not been changed.
There are minds, indeed, of a lower order, in relation to which we can argue almost nothing from any change, except their own imbecility, flexibleness, weakness. There are minds that are naturally weak, vacillating, unsettled; with no strength of purpose or character; with no great aim in life; with no strong prejudices of education or of feeling to be conquered; with no deeplyrooted principles to resist any change. Such minds are swayed, as the tops of the ears of corn, and the sunace of the lake are moved, by every passing breeze. The fickle multitude—the masses of men—are often thus swayed. Sudden excitement, popular frenzy, bursts of passion, eloquent appeals, move them easily in one direction, to be moved as easily in another, when the gale shall set from an opposite quarter. A change in such minds on the subject of religion may be real, and may be of infinite and eternal importance to the individual; but we draw no great conclusions from the turning of such minds in regard to the falsehood of the system abandoned, or the truth of that which is adopted. We may not doubt its genuineness; we may not be disposed to underrate its value; but we do not see in it an argument as to the truth or falsehood of the opinions abandoned or of those embraced.
It is not so when a change, radical, entire, permanent, occurs in one of great strength of character, of high intellectual endowments, of fixed principles; in one who has established a reputation ; in one who has a high social position; in one to whom an honourable career lies open; in one who sees before him in the line which he is pursuing what would gratify any purpose of ambition,—but who voluntarily abandons all this for a life of poverty, shame, self-sacrifice, peril, and toil, with no hope of an earthly reward. Such a change in the governing purpose of the life (especially if it involves persecution, contempt, suffering; if it demands a breaking away from old friends and old pursuits; if it is accompanied with a radical revolution of character and life), from a career of vice to a career of virtue,—from harshness, severity, and cruelty, to gentleness, benignity, and charity,—cannot but arrest attention as to its cause. Hence it is natural and not unphilosophical, to ask what is the force of an argument derived from the fact of such a change in regard to the falsehood of that which is given up, and the truth of that which is embraced.
Such changes of life and opinion have an important effect on the world. They are not like death, which simply arrests influence by removing the man; they are the transfer of so much power to the other side of an "equation." A commander, if killed in battle, is simply removed. As his country loses nothing but the withdrawing of so much talent and generalship from its armies (though that may be much), so the enemy gains nothing by any new accession of experience and generalship to its own side. If, however, such a man abandons his standard; if he proves false to his country; if, from being loyal, he becomes disloyal; if he goes over and joins the ranks of the foe, his country not merely loses his service, as it would if he had been shot down, but the enemy gains that which may decide the battle, and determine the war. Saul of Tarsus might have been struck dead by the flash which blinded him, and then there would have been only so much withdrawn from the persecuting power. But he was not killed; he was carried over "to the other side of the equation." Luther might have been struck dead by the flash which killed his companion by his side, instead of being convicted of sin, as he was, by that display of Divine power and sovereignty; and then there would have been simply but just so much undeveloped talent withdrawn from the world. He became a Christian man; and all his influence and power were transferred to Christianity.
Saul of Tarsus entered on his career with uncommon advantages. He was endowed by nature with talents fitted to conduct him to eminence in any cause in which he might embark. He was a bold, ardent, impetuous, independent, indefatigable young man. He was a patriot in the highest sense in which that term could be used in Judea. He possessed uncommon talent for reasoning; he was capable of the severest invective; he had the power of withering sarcasm ; he understood the force of cutting irony; he was able to soar into the highest regions of imagination ; and though with some decided defects as a public speaker, yet so eloquent was he that he was numbered by Longinus among the celebrated Grecian orators. He was a Jew to the heart's core; an Hebrew of the Hebrews, body and soul; as bigoted and furious as any Jew ever was. He was a religionist of the highest order; and never had the sentiment of religion, as he understood it, acquired a more stern dominion over a man's soul, than over his. He was a young man of irreproachable morals, true to the highest standards of virtue which had then been set up in the world.
The influence of such a man must have been vast. His ambition, his energy, and his eloquence must have placed his name among those whose lives have most deeply affected, for good or for evil, the destiny of mankind. Amidst the ruins of the empire of Herod the Great,—the fragments of empire over which he once ruled, now crushed beneath the Roman yoke,— and amidst the revolutions which were occurring in the Roman empire itself, there was as fine a field for the display of talent as the world has ever furnished. Being a Roman citizen, every department of effort and of influence was open to him; and as Agrippa, a Jew, had played his part in the conflicts of Octavianus, Lepidus, and Antony, no one can tell what part Saul of Tarsus might have been destined to fill; for we have no reason to suppose that he would have hesitated to avail himself of the opportunities for distinction which were thus accessible to him.
At the time to which our attention is now called, he had embarked on a great enterprize, in his view essential to the preservation of true religion, and to the salvation of his country. A new religion had appeared,—a religion which, in the apprehension of such a mind as that of Saul, was not to be despised. It had elements of greatness and power which were not to be overlooked. The highest authority in the nation had been called into requisition to suppress it; the Author of the new religion had been put to death; the Sanhedrim had prohibited the promulgation of its doctrines in the most solemn manner. But in vain. It gained strength by every new attempt to crush it. It threatened the extinction of the national religion; the entire abolition of the sacred rites of the temple; the subversion of laws and customs hallowed for ages.
Saul saw whither all this was tending, and his great powers were summoned to the suppression of the new faith. A blow had been struck in Jerusalem by the death of Stephen, and by the persecutions connected with that. The "disciples" had been "scattered abroad," and it was hoped that the " pestilent heresy" might be suppressed altogether there. Yet a light, lurid like a meteor, was seen to gleam in the North. From Damascus, whither the new doctrines had been carried, they might spread as well as from Jerusalem; and it was of importance to suppress them there also. Saul was commissioned to do it, and was on his way to carry out the purpose.
Suddenly, according to his own account of the matter, a light appeared in his path, above the brightness of the sun. It bewildered him; blinded him; smote him to the earth. A voice addressed him, "Why persecutest thou me?" It said, "I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for 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" (Acts xxvi. 14—18.)
This is the brief account in the New Testament of one of the most remarkable changes which ever occurred in a human mind, and connected materially—perhaps, essentially—with one of the most marked and important of the revolutions that have taken place in the progress of human events,—the establishment of the Christian religion in the world. A time had arrived when, on the supposition that the religion was true, it had become necessary to summon some such well*
endowed and disciplined mind to accomplish the object contemplated by it.
There is every mark of reality, genuineness, and thoroughness in this conversion, whatever may be said about the cause of it—a point which we shall afterwards have occasion to examine. I mean, when I speak of the "reality, the genuineness, and the thoroughness," of his conversion, that it was sincere; that it was not feigned. No one who gives credit to the history at all, or to any history, can doubt that a change occurred, in Saul's views, purposes, feelings, and aims, and that it extended its influence over his entire subsequent life. He ceased to be a persecutor; he became the friend of the cause which he had persecuted. He sought no longer to destroy the religion which he had opposed; but he laboured most earnestly to spread it abroad throughout the world. The injury which he had done to the cause he endeavoured to counteract. He could not indeed undo the wrong that he had done; he could not bring back to life those who had been put to death when he "gave" his "voice against them;" he could not blot out the record of the sorrows which he had caused, and the tears which he had made to flow. When murder has been committed, no change in the murderer can recall the murdered man to life; when sentiments of infidelity have been scattered abroad, no act of the penitent sceptic can gather them up again; when morals and faith have been corrupted, no tears, no efforts of him who has done it, can rescue and restore the victims; when innocence has been ruined, the con
version of the betrayer and the seducer does not recall the seduced and the wronged from the low haunts of vice, or from the grave. But the penitent and regenerated man may, in some degree, repair the evil which he has done to society. Saul did this; he lived to diffuse the Christian religion with a zeal corresponding to that which he had exerted to destroy it. And this fact is as clearly attested as any other fact of ancient history. That Caesar crossed the Rubicon, or fell in the Senate House, is not more certainly established than this.
The question as to the sincerity, the reality, the genuineness of the change involves two inquiries:— What was the change itself? What was the evidence that it was real, genuine, sincere?
(1.) What was the change? It was substantially that which always occurs in conversion. It was a change in the governing purpose of the soul; in the great aim and object of the life;—a change of the will, of the heart, of the affections. It was a change from a hatred of the new system, to the love of it; from a rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, to a cordial reception of Him as such; from trust in his own righteousness for salvation, to reliance on the merits of the Saviour; from zeal in serving God under Judaism, to zeal in serving Him under the form of Christianity; from pride and self-confidence, to humility and a renunciation of self; from the bigoted and narrow spirit of a Pharisee, to a love and charity which embraced all mankind, because all were made of " one blood," and because Christ had died for all.
It is material in understanding this case in itself, and as an illustration of the nature of regeneration or the new birth, to remark that the change was in the will, the affections, the governing purpose of the man; not immediately on his intellect, his mental capacity, his distinguishing characteristics. In conversion, the same great elements of character, the same mental peculiarities, remain as before. It is only the new direction which the powers take that constitutes the change. The individuality of every man that has been converted is preserved; the mental characteristics are retained ; the constitutional powers are intensified, and turned in a new direction. John and Peter, Luther and Melancthon, carry with them into their religious life what distinguished them in their former life. From what Luther and Melancthon were as Christians, there is no difficulty in determining what they had been in their mental characteristics before they became such. Of Saul of Tarsus, therefore, as of every other man who is converted, we have two views of constitutional character, or of the individual,—that before his conversion, and that after his conversion. From the one we could anticipate what the other would be; from the other we could re-construct his character, and show what he was, as the naturalist can the animal from a single fossil bone. Of all which characterized Paul as an apostle, we should find the elements in his character as a Pharisee and as a persecutor. In all (save the heart, the purpose, the will), that made him great as a defender and propagator of Christianity, we should find that which would have made him great in acting his part on the theatre of human affairs, if he had lived and died a Pharisee.
(a.) There was, before his conversion, a stern regard for law—a respect for law so great that it would not permit him to take an active part even in persecution unless under legal sanction and authority. That regard for law ran through all his life as a Christian apostle— in his maintenance of his rights as a Roman citizen (Acts xvi. 37; xxii. 25; xxv. n); in his demanding of the Jewish high-priest that he should not cause him to be smitten contrary to the law (Acts xxiii. 3); in his willingness to be punished—even to die—if he had been an offender (Acts xxv. 11); and in the respect which he everywhere and always enjoined for civil rulers, and civil government, even when Nero was on the throne (Rom. xiii. 1—7).
(b.) There was, before his conversion, a most rigid conscientiousness — that conscientiousness which attended him even in the work of persecution, when he "verily thought" that he "ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts xxvi. 9); which justified him in saying, when arraigned before the Sanhedrim, "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day" (Acts xxiii. 1); and which enabled him, even after his conversion, to say of his early life, "touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Phil. iii. 6). So thoroughly was this conscientiousness carried into his life after his conversion that he could say to his countrymen, "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men" (Acts xxiv. 16), and could make the solemn asseveration in the review of his life,—" For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world" (2 Cor. i. 12).
(c.) There was before his conversion a zeal for God,— a zeal which made him willing to make any sacrifice to promote what he regarded as the Divine honour. The change in his conversion was not in the intmsity of his zeal; it was in its direction. Under both systems there was the same underlying constitutional ardour,— an ardour which might, indeed, become under either system more intense, and which was in either, so intense and characteristic that knowing what it was in the one, we might infer what it would be in the other.
(d.) As a Pharisee, there was, before his conversion, an intense spirit of propagandism—for this was of the very essence of the religion of the Pharisees, who compassed sea and land to make one proselyte (Matt. xxiii. 15). After his conversion, this also took another direction; his zeal for propagating the new faith sprang from a higher motive, and he had the consciousness that this would be for a better influence on the character; but there was still the same earnest desire to bring men to the same faith with himself;—a conformity to be secured by all his powers and endowments, and by every measure of effort which he was capable of putting forth. There was essentially the same man, acting in a different form.
(e.) Paul was, before his conversion, daring, energetic, ready for any lofty enterprize; a man who would shrink from no danger, and be turned back by no obstacles in accomplishing an object; a man who would encounter any peril, by land or by sea, in carrying out his purposes. We recognize the same man, with his energies turned into a new channel, when we hear him recount the events and endurances of his life (2 Cor. xi. 24—27).
(2.) If we are asked, then, what evidence we have that there was really such a change in the will, the purpose, the affections of the man, as might be properly designated by the words conversion, regeneration, a new creature, a new man, we do not point to any thing in his mental characteristics, but to the course of his subsequent life. How do we judge, in any such case, of a man's sincerity, and of the genuineness of his professions? There is, there can be, no better criterion than when he sacrifices much by the change; when he gives up brilliant prospects with nothing now before him as an equivalent; when he is compelled to part with old friends, or to make bitter foes of them; when he abandons all that had been instilled into his mind by a careful education; when he departs from the sentiments cherished by father, mother, friends; when he submits to poverty, contempt, and scorn; when he exposes himself to fines, or scourging, or imprisonment; when his career is to be one of peril and toil, with no prospect of earthly recompense; when death, perhaps in its most horrid form, is to be the consequence of the change.
Saul of Tarsus gave up hopes and prospects perhaps; as brilliant as any ever cherished by an aspiring young man; he subjected himself to the bitter hatred and scorn of his kindred; he embraced a religion then the most unpopular of any on the earth; he exposed himself to every form of persecution; he became poor, an outcast, and a wanderer; he set before him one great object of life—if " by all means he might save some;" he shunned no danger, was appalled by no obstacle, asked no reward, was checked by no opposition; he avowed his principles everywhere,—seeking to assert and defend them in places of intelligence, influence, and power,—where men were best qualified to judge of truth, and where a sensitive and noble-minded man would feel it most keenly if his sentiments where held in contempt,—when confronted with philosophers at Athens, and when arraigned on trial for his life before Nero; never wavering, never shrinking, never breathing out one sigh of regret, never concealing his new views; exulting, triumphing, rejoicing to the end of life that he had abandoned all for Christ (Phil. iii. 8). Such a change could not be otherwise than sincere, real, genuine. It has never been doubted, however it may be explained.
A very material point here occurs as to the bearing of this change on the evidences of the truth of the Christian religion.
Beyond all question—all possibility of debate—if this change actually occurred in the form and manner recorded in the New Testament, the Christian religion is true. If Jesus of Nazareth actually appeared to Saul of Tarsus, then it follows that He had risen from the dead; that He had ascended to heaven; that He still lived; that He still reigned. If it were admitted that Christ rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven, then there would be, with no class of men, any further ground of doubt as to the fact that He was from God.
The evidence in the case, therefore, in favour of the truth of the Christian religion, would not be the mere fact that Saul was converted, but it would be the fact that he was converted in the manner stated by himself, and the proof thus furnished that Christ was actually raised from the dead.
There are two classes of men who have a deep interest in the point thus suggested;—those who already believe it true; and those who doubt it.
To the former of these—to Christians—the account of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus is a straightforward account. There is nothing in it to stagger their faith; there is nothing which is not in unison with their views of the rank, the dignity, and the power of Christ, or with what, in their apprehension, would be likely to occur, or might occur. Christ, in their view, is Divine. He is, in a sense in which the language can be applied to no other being, "the Son of God," the "brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person." To Him, as the Son of God, as Mediator between God and man, has been given "all power in heaven and in earth." That power he manifested, when on earth, by curing diseases, by casting out devils, by raising the dead. Risen from the grave, and seated at the right hand of God, He is now invested with all the power, and encompassed with all the glories of heaven. There, as Mediator, He administers the affairs of the uerse, so far as they bear on the interests of redemption. He has control over all the agencies necessary to carry forward His work on earth, and to secure the reconciliation of the world to God.
In the narrative, therefore, of His appearance to Saul of Tarsus, there is nothing inconsistent with the faith of Christians in regard to Him ;—with what He did personally when on earth,—with His real rank and dignity,—or with the purpose for which He was raised. His appearing again on earth, with visible splendour and glory, to convert a great mind engaged in persecution, and to make that mind instrumental in carrying forward the work for which He had commissioned His apostles, while at the same time furnishing a visible proof to mankind of the reality of His ascension, was in harmony with all that the Christian believes of Him. The glory, the splendour, the exceeding brightness of the light,—"above the brightness of the sun," and that at mid-day,—is in accordance with all that the believer regards as appropriate to the Son of God in the glories of heaven.
To the other class—to unbelievers—the subject presents itself under a different aspect, and is to be disposed of in a different manner. It should be disposed of,—and disposed of in such a way as to be satisfactory to any candid mind.
There are such ways as the following in which men seek to dispose of it; there are, as far as I can see, no other, save that which admits the narrative to be true, and the religion to be from God.
First. That the whole narrative is false. Such a supposition would, of course, dispose of it. But it would be impossible to prove this. In the narrative itself there is no essential absurdity; there is nothing contradictory to what is affirmed elsewhere of the rank, the power, and the purpose of the Redeemer; there is nothing which does not seem material in explaining the undoubted facts which occurred in the life of Saul of Tarsus. Some such change did occur in his life, as we have already seen; and this statement will, better than any other, explain the fact.
Second. That the whole was on the part of Saul an imposture,—a story fabricated to impose on mankind;— in other words, that he knew and believed the claims of Jesus to be unfounded, but yet resolved to pretend that the impostor had appeared to him as if risen from the grave, and had commissioned him to go and proclaim Him to the world as the Messiah. If a man should adopt this theory, it would be natural to ask, how he could explain conduct so strange,—so unlike what commonly influences the human mind! What motive could Saul have had in devising this story? What reason had he to believe that he could make his countrymen or the world believe it? How could he hope to convince those who were travelling with him on the career of persecution, that this had occurred? How could he so deceive them, or so induce them to be silent concerning the whole affair, as to prevent their testifying that nothing of the kind had occurred? And, if successful in this, what could he hope to gain by this change in his opinions and pursuits, and by an attempt to propagate such an imposture, in compensation for what he would be compelled to surrender—his bright prospects—his friends— his principles of early training—and for what he could not but foresee must be encountered in poverty, toils, and persecution? They who can believe that Saul of Tarsus meant to make use of one imposture, by adding another to it for his own purposes, will furnish to the world one of the best evidences that all credulity is not with such as believe that he acted under the convictions of truth, and was sincere in his change.
Third. That he was a fanatic; and that his change, and all which was consequent on it, could be accounted for on this supposition. But, apart from the fact that such a supposition is quite contrary to all that is recorded respecting his character—that is, the whole account of him, given in the Acts of the Apostles, and traced in the Epistles ascribed to him,—the question would still occur which involves the whole difficulty, Hoiv came he to be fanatical in this cause at all? How did he suppose that he would find in his becoming a follower of Jesus of Nazareth a suitable field for fanaticism? Men become fanatics on an opinion already embraced; they do not embrace an opinion for the sake of being fanatics, or because any one department of human effort is particularly favourable to fanaticism. Men become fanatics on the subject of slavery; on the subject of abolition; on some particular doctrine of religion; on the subject of human rights; on some point of reformation; on some real or imaginary wrong ;—but it is an abuse of language —it is contrary to fact—to say that they embrace such views because they are fanatics, or with a design to display their fanaticism. Moreover, if it should be admitted that this was a characteristic of the Apostle Paul, still it is to be said that of all the religions ever proposed to mankind, the pure and simple Gospel of Jesus was the least adapted of all to any such purpose. As a Jew—a Pharisee—Saul would have found his early religion far more appropriate for the developement of such a trait of character than the Gospel of Christ.
Fourth. That he was an enthusiast. Admitting here, for the time, that this was the character of Saul of Tarsus,—or admitting that he ever became an enthusiast—still the question would be, How would this account for his conversion? What new elements were there in the Christian religion, as it appeared then, which could not be found in the religion wherein he had been trained, to induce an "enthusiast" to embrace it? Here, also, it is to be remarked that men become enthusiasts in the faith which they hold; in the doctrine in which they have been nurtured; in the objects which they have to accomplish: they do not embrace a new form of faith in order to furnish a new field for enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, like fanaticism, so far as it exists at all, would rather be a reason for not changing, than for changing; and, indeed, one of the most serious obstacles to the conversion of men to Christianity is the fact that they are fanatics and enthusiasts in some form of superstition or idolatry, and that this cannot be overcome so as to allow the conscience and the sober reason to operate freely. If Saul of Tarsus was converted under the influence of mere enthusiasm, it must be regarded as a solitary instance in the whole history of conversion to a new form of belief.
Fifth. That he was himself deceived; that a flash of lightning blinded him, or that a meteor crossed his path; and that through fear, through an ardent imagination, and through the conviction of conscience, he thought that this was Jesus of Nazareth, and that He seemed audibly to address him, to rebuke him, to call him to a different life. It cannot be denied that conscience, when a man is doing wrong, might take this direction; that a peal of thunder, a flash of lightning, the explosion of a meteor, might arrest the attention of a sinner, and fill him with apprehensions of a judgment to come, and be so far, as in the case of Luther, a means of his conversion. But it is to be observed, in the first place, that this mode of accounting for what occurred, would supersede all the others which have been suggested, and would make any further argument in regard to them unnecessary. Then, it is to be observed further, that we are to take in the entire statement:—that the immediate effect was to produce blindness (which indeed would not be improbable); that Saul was restored from that state by the hands of a Christian disciple in Damascus (Acts ix. 17); that this disciple professed to have been sent by an express command addressed to him in a "vision," (Acts ix. 10); that he had come in obedience to that, and a miracle was performed on Saul's restoration to sight, as if "scales" had fallen from his eyes (Acts ix. 18). Now, here is more than one man. This was not a mere effect of a flash of lightning, or of a meteor. It required a distinct agency in arresting Saul; and at the same time another distinct and remote agency in preparing one to meet him, to restore him to sight, and to acquaint him with the purpose for which he had been arrested.
Sixth. There is still another supposition. It is that Saul of Tarsus had sagacity enough to see what could be made out of Christianity, so that if he abandoned his old religion, and embraced this, he would more certainly achieve what was the great and leading purpose of his ambition,—a remembrance after he was dead; an influence that would increase and grow in all coming ages; a reputation that would convey his name down to the end of the world. This, in fact, would be true, as a result of his embracing the new religion. As a persecutor —a Jew—his name would have perished,—or, if remembered, it would have been only, as the names of persecutors are, remembered to be execrated in future ages, and to become more and more infamous as the world advances. But as a Christian and an apostle, the name of Paul will go down to the latest periods of the world's history, and will be mentioned only with honour. But to suppose that he saw all this,—that he acted on this supposition,—that the change in his opinions and life was produced by this anticipation,— that he was willing to give up fame, comfort, reputation, during his life, for the sake of posthumous honour and applause,—that because he saw all this, he was willing to encounter the poverty, obloquy, shame, toil, and persecution, which he must have foreseen would follow such a change,—is to attribute to him a measure of sagacity that no man ever yet possessed.
There remains, then, only the supposition that the change in Saul of Tarsus was real, and that the account of his conversion in the Acts of the Apostles is true;—a supposition, which demonstrates at the same time the truth of Christianity,—the power of the Gospel in changing the most obdurate heart,—and the wisdom of the Saviour in calling a man of such endowments into His service.