Page images
PDF
EPUB

Saul reproved for the sin

THE ACTS.

and folly of his conduct.

A.M.cir: 1037: heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, || And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom A.M.cir:1037 An. Olymp. Saul, “why persecutest thou me ? thou persecutest : bit is hard for thee An. Olymp.

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? to kick against the pricks.

cir. CCIILI.

cir. CCIII. 1.

[blocks in formation]

Verse 4. And he fell to the earth] Being struck down And Escuylus in Agamemnon, ver. 1633. with the lightning : many persons suppose he was on horse.

Προς κεντρα μη λακτιζε. back, and painters thus represent him; but this is utterly

Kick not against the goads. without foundation. Painters are in almost every case,

And again in Prometh. Vinct. ver. 323. wretched commentators. Verse 5. Who art thou, Lord?] Tis el Kuçia; Who art

Προς κεντρα κωλον εκτενείς, ορων οτι

Τραχυς μοναρχος ουδ' υπευθυνος κρατει. . thou Sır? Ile had no knowledge who it was that addressed him; and would only use the term Kupie, as any Roman or

" Thou stretchest out thy foot against gouds, seeing the Greek would, merely as a term of civil respect.

fierce monarch governs according to his own will." I am Jesus whom thou perscculest Thy enmity is | Resistance is of no use, the more thou dost rebel, the more against me and my religion; and the injuries which thou keenly thou shalt suffer.

kecnly thou shalt suffer. See the Scholiast here. dost to my followers, I consider as done to myself.

Pindar has a similar expression, Pyth. ii. ver. 171-5. The following words making 20 in the original, and 30 in

Φερειν δ' ελαφρως. . our version, are found in no Greek MS. The words are,

Επαυχενιον λαόντα It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks: and he tremb

Ζυγον γ' αληγει. Ποτι κεντρον δε τον ling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

Λακτιζεμεν, τελείει and the Lord said unto him. It is not very easy to account

Ολισθηρος οιμος. for such a large addition which is not only not found in any “ It is profitable, to bear willingly the assumed yoke. To Greek MS. yet discovered, but is wanting in the Itala, Er kick against the goad, is pernicious conduct." pen’s Arabic, the Syriac, Coptic, Sahidic, and most of the Sla- where see the Scholiast who shews that “it is ridiculous for a vonion. It is found in the Vulgate, one of the Arabic, the man to fight with fortune : for is the unruly ox, from whom Ethiopic, and Armenian; and was probably borrowed from the metaphor is taken, kick against the goad, he shall suffer chap. xxvi. 14. and some marginal notes. It is wanting also still more grievously.” in the Complutentian edition, and in that of Bengel. Grics- TERENCE uses the same figure. Phorm. Act I. scen. 2. bach also leaves it out of the text.

ver. 27. It is hard for thee, dic.] Exit,soy 606 1605 revopa na tha Venere in mentem mihi istæc: nam inscitia est tarv. This is a proverbial expression, which exists not only

Advorsum stimulum calces. in substance, but even in so many words, both in the Greek and Latin writers. Kevtpoy kentron, signifies an ox goad, a

66 These things have come to my recollection, for it is

foolishness for thee to kick against a goad.piece of pointed iron stuck in the end of a stick; with which the ox is urged on, when drawing the plough. The origin of

Ovid has the same idea in other words, Trist. lib. ii. ver. 15. the proverb seems to have been this: sometimes it happens At nunc (tanta meo comes est insania morbo) that a restive or stubborn ox, kicks back against the goad, Suxa malum refero rursus ad icta pedem. and thus wounds bimself more deeply : hence it has become

Scilicct et victus repetit gladiator arenam; a proverb to signify the fruitlessness and absurdity of re

Et redit in tumidas naufraga puppis aquas. belling against lawful authority; and the getting into greater

But madly now I wound myself alone, difficulties by endeavouring to avoid trifling sufferings. So

Dashing my injured foot against the stone; the proverb Incidit in Scyllam qui vult vitare Charybdim. Out

So to the wide arena wild with pain of the cauldron, into the fire. “ Out of bud, into worse." The vanquished gladiator hastes again; The saying exists almost in the apostolic form, in the follow

So the poor shatter'd bark, the tempest braves, ing writers. EURIPIDES, in Bacch. ver. 793.

Launching once more into the swelling waves, Θυοιμαν αυτω μαλλον, η θυμουμενος

Intelligent men in all countries, and in all ages of the Προς κεντρα λακτιζοιμι θνητος ων, Θεω.

world, have seen and acknowledged the folly and wickedness 6 I, who am a frail mortal, should rather sacrifice to him of fighting against God; of murmuring at the dispensations

who is a God, than by giving place to anger, kick against of his providence, of being impatient under aftliction; and of the goads."

opposing the purposes of his justice and mercy. The words

He is directed to go to Damascus

CHAP. IX.

to receive instructions.

A. D. cir. 33.

A.M.cir. 4037.

6 And he trembling and astonished be told thee what thou must do. A.M.cir.4037. A.D. cir. 33. An. Olymp. said, Lord, “what wilt thou have me 7 And the men which journeyed An. Olymp. cir. CCIII. 1.

to do? And the Lord said unto with him stood speechless, hearing a him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall voice, but seeing no man.

cir. CCIII. 1.

a Luke 3. 10. ch. 2. 37. & 16. 30.

Dan. 10. 7. See ch. 22. 9. & 26. 13.

contain an universal lesson; and teach us patience under af. lion becomes a lamb. What wilt thou have me to do? Wilt fiction, and subjection to the sovereign will of God: and thou condescend to employ me among thy meanest servants? they especially shew the desperate wickedness of endeavour

Go into the city and it shall be told thee, &c.] Jesus could ing by persecution, to hinder the dissemination of the truth of

have informed him at once, what was his will concerning him; God in the earth. He that kicks against this goad, does it at but he chose to make one of those very disciples whom he was the risk of his final salvation. The fable of the viper and the going to bring in bonds to Jerusalem, the means of his salvafile is another illustration of this proverb: it gnawed and tion. 1. To shew that God will help man by man, that they licked the file, till it destroyed its teeth, and wasted away its may learn to love and respect each other : 2. That in the betongue. The maxim in the proverb should be early incul-nevolence of Ananias he might see the spirit and tendency of cated on the minds of children and scholars; when chastised that religion which he was persecuting; and of which he was for their faults, resistance and stubbornness produce increased shortly to become an apostle. coercion and chastisement. And let parents and masters Verse 7. Stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no learn that the oft repeated use of the goad and ferula, seldom man.) The men were evveci stupified, hearing 775 owns the tend to reclaim, but beget obduracy and desperation. The voice or thunder, but not distinguishing the words, which advice of Columella to the ploughman, having some relation were addressed to Saul alone; and which were spoken out of to the proverb in the text, and a strong bearing on this latter the thunder, or in a small still voice, after the peal had part of the subject, is worthy of the most serious regard, ceased. The remarkable case 1 Kings xix. 11–13. may serve

Voce potius quam verberibus terreat; ultimuque sint opus to illustrate that before us. And he said go forth, and stand recusantibus remedia, plagæ. Nunquam stimulo lacessat ju- upon the mount before the Lord; and the Lord passed by and tencum, quod retrectantem calcitrosumque eum reddit: non- | a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces nunquam tamen admoneat flagello." COLUMELLA, De Re the rocks before the Lord: and after the wind an earthquake : Rustica, lib. ii. cap. 2. in fine. “Let the husbandman inti- and after the earthquake a fire; and after the fire a still small midate his oxen more by his coice than by blows, to which he voice : and when Elijah heard it he wrapped his face in his should never have recourse but in extreme cases. A young mantle and went out and stood in the entering in of the cave, steer should never be gouded, for this will induce him to kick und behold there came a voice unto him and said, what DOST and run back ; but on proper occasions the whip, as an incen THOU IIERE, ELIJAH! The thunder must have been heard tive to activity, may be profitably used.” In reference to by all; the small still voice by Saul alone. This considerathe same subject, which all concerned, should feel to be of|tion amply reconciles the passage in the text with that in the greatest importance, I shall close with the advice of one chap. xxii. 9. where Paul says, they that were with me, saw greater than the Roman agriculturist; Fathers provoke not the light and were afraid, but they heard not the voice of your children to unger, lest they be discouraged; Coloss. iii. him that spake with me. They had heard the thunder which 21. but bring them up (s' TLÔE12 x40 you Isova Kupov) in the followed the escape of the lightning, but they heard not the discipline and admonition of the Lord, Eph. vi. 4. using the voice of him that spake to Saul: they did not hear the words, authority that God has given you, with a steady hand, actu I am Jesus whom thou persecutest, &c. but they saw and ated by a tender and feeling heart.

heard enough to convince them that the whole was superpaVerse 6. Trembling] Under a strong apprehension of tural; for they were all struck down to the earth with the meeting the judgment he deserved.

splendor of the light, and the sound of the thunder, which I And astonished] At the light, the thunder and the voice. suppose took place on this occasion. It has been a question

Lord, what wilt thou have me to do.?] The word Kupia among divines, whether Jesus Christ did really appear to Lord, is here to be understood in its proper sense, as express- Saul on this occasion. The arguments against the real aping authority and dominion : in the 5th verse it appears to pearance, are not strong. St. Luke tells us that those who be equivalent to our word Sir.

were with him heard the voice but they saw no man; which The pride of the pharisee is now brought down to the dust ; | is a strong intimation that he saw what they did not. Ana. and the fury of the persecutor is not only restrained, but the nias, it seems, was informed that there had been a real appear

Paul being blind comes to Damascus.

THE ACTS.

Ananias has a vision concerning him.

A. M. cir.4037.
A. D. cir. 33.
An. Olymp.
cir. CCIII. I.

. A. D.cir. 33. An. Olymp.

8 And Saul arose from the earth; 11 And the Lord said unto him, A.M.cir.4037 and when his eyes were opened, he Arise, and go into the street which is

saw no man: but they led him by called Straight, and enquire in the cir. CCIII. 1. the hand, and brought him into Damascus. house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus:

9 And he was three days without sight, and for, behold, he prayeth, neither did eat nor drink.

12 And hath seen in a vision a man named 10 I And there was a certain disciple at Da- Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on mascus, named Ananias; and to liim said the him, that he might receive his sight. Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, 13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have I am here, Lord.

heard by many of this man, how much evil he

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

ance, for in addressing Saul, ver. 17. he says, The Lord Je- law, having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt there. sus that APPEARED unto tune in the way as thou cumest, &c. See on ver. 17. And Barnabas intimates thus much, when he brought him To him said the Lord in a vision] Ev p2.1.27h, in a strong before the apostles at Jerusalem, for he declared unto them impression made upon his mind, which lest no doubt conhow he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken cerning its heavenly origin; nor of the truth of the things reunto him: and chap. xxii. 14. where the discourse of Ana- j presented by it. It is very probable that the whole took nias is given more at large, he says, The God of our fathers place in a dream. hath chosen thee that thou shouldst know his will and see Verse 11. Arise, and go into the street which is called that JUST ONE, and shouldst 11 war the voice of his mouth: so Straight] How very particular is this direction ! and it was we find that hearing the voice, or words of his mouth, was not necessary that it should be so, that he might see the whole to what is called the appearance ; for besides this, there was an be a divine communication : the house was probably one in actual manifestation of the person of Christ. But St. Paul's which Saul was accustomod to reside when at Damascus; and own words 1 Cor. ix. 1. put the subject out of dispute : Am | where he was known as a native of Tarsus. I not an apostle? Am I not free? Ilare I NOT SEEN JESUS Tarsus was a city of Cilicia, seated on the Cnydus, and Christ IN TIE FLES11? to which may be added, 1 Cor. xv. now called Tarasso. It was at one period, the capital of all 8. And last of all, HE WAS SEEN OF ME also, as of one born Cilicia; and became a rival to Alexandria and Athens in the out of due time.

arts and sciences. The inhabitants, in the time of Julius Verse 8. When his eyes were opened, he suc no man] Cæsar, having shewn themselves friendly to the Romans, were Instead of cuoeva no man, the Codex Alexandrinus, the Sy- | endowed with all the privileges of Roman citizens : and it riuc, Vulgate, and some others, have suôsy nothing. He not was on this account, that St. Paul claimed the rights of a Roonly saw no man, but he saw nothing, being quite blind; and man citizen; a circumstance which on different occasions, was therefore was led by the hand to Damascus, un Bretwy, being to him and the cause in which he was engaged, of considewithout sight.

rable service. Verse 9. Neither did eat nor drink.] The anxiety of his Behold, he prayeth] He is earnestly seeking to know my mind and the anguish of his heart were so great that he had | will, and to find the salvation of his soul : therefore, go no appetite for food; and he continued in total darkness and speedily and direct him. Some have laid needless stress on without food for three days, till Ananias proclaimed salvation these words, as if they intimated, that “though Saul as a to him in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Pharisee, had often suid his prayers, yet he had never prayed Verse 10. A certain disciple-named Ananias] A gene- || them till now.” This is not correct; he could himself testify, ral opinion has prevailed in the Greek church, that this Ana- that while he was a Pharisee, he had lived in all good connias was one of the 72 disciples, and that he was martyred ; || science towards God: and consequently in that time, made and they celebrate this martyrdom on the first of October. | many faithful and fervent prayers: but he was praying now for It has been farther stated, that his house was turned into a instruction, and his prayers were speedily answered. church, which remains to the present day, though now occu Verse 12. Hath seen in a vision] While God prepares pied as a 'Turkish mosque : but even the Mohammedans have | Ananias by a vision, to go and minister to Saul; he at the same the tradition, and treat his memory with great respect. Ilow- | time prepares Saul by another vision, to profit by this ministry. ever this may be; from chap. xxji. 12. we learn what is of Verse 13. Loril, I hare heard by many of this man This more importance, that he was a devout man, according to the was all done in a dream, else this sort of reasoning with his

And is sent by the Lord to

CHAP. IX.

instruct Saul in the gospel.

A. D. cir. 33.

A. D. cir. 33.

rir. CCIN. I.

cir. CCIII.1.

A. M. cit. 4037. hath done to thy saints at Jerusa-, to bear my name before the Gen- A.M.cir.4037

. An. Olymp. lem:

tiles, and d kings, and the children of An. Olymp. 14 And here he hath authority from Israel: the chief priests to bind all that call on thy 16 For 'I will shew him how great things he

must suffer for my name's sake. 15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy 17 'And Ananias went his way, and entered way: for "he is a chosen vessel unto me, into the house ; and 5 putting his hands on him

name.

• Ver. 21. ch. 7. 59. & 22. 16. 1 Cor. 1. 2. 2 Tim. 2. 22.- ch. 13. 2. & 29. 21. & 2. 17. Rom. 1. 1. 1 Cor. 15. 10., Gal. l. 15. Ephes. 3. 7, B. 1 Tim. 2. 7. 2 Tim. 1. 11.

• Rom. 1. 5. & Il. 13. Gal. 2. 7, 8. ch. 25. 22, 23. & 26. 1, &c. ch. 0. 23, & 21. 11. 2 Cor. 11. 3.– ch. 99, 12, 13.4 ch. 8. 17.

Maker, would have been intolerable in Ananias. Saul had Chosen vessel.-Exevos exions is properly a Hebraism, for been a notorious persecutor; many could testify of his out an excellent or well adapted instrument. Every reader of the rageous acts against the poor followers of Christ.

Bible must have noticed how often the word chosen is used Thy saints] That is, the Christians or followers of Christ. | there to signify excelling or eminent: so we use the word Ayio signißes not only holy persons, but also consecrated choice, choice men,” eminent persons ; “ choice things," persons ; from a negative, and you the earth ; persons who excellent articles. So in Jerem. xxii. 7. they shall cut down are separated from all earthly uses, and consecrated to the thy choice cedurs 7'778 annos innan vecaretu MiBCHAR araservice of God alone.

seyca; και εκκοψουσι τας εκλεκτας κεδρους σου, SEPT. They Verse 14. And here he hath authority, &c.] Ananias || shall cut the most EXCELLENT of thy cedars; or thy cedar had undoubtedly heard of Saul's coming, and the commission trees, which are the most excellent of their kind, they will he had received from the chief priests; and he was about to cut down. Whoever considers the character of St. Paul, his urge this as a reason why he should have no connexion with education, attainments in natural knowledge, the distinso dangerous a man.

guished part he took, first against Christianity; and after. Verse 15. Go thy way] Ile was thus prevented from wards on the fullest conviction, the part he took in its fa. going farther in his reasoning on this subject.

your ; will at once perceive, how well he was every way quaHe is a chosen vessel unto me] The word oxeras in Greek, lified for the great work, to which God had called him. and ha keley in Hebrew, though they literally signify a ves To bear my name before the Gentiles] To carry the en. sel, yet they are both used to signify any kind of instrument, sign of the cross among the Greeks and Romans; and by the or the means by which an act is done. In the Tract. Sohar demonstration of the Spirit, to confound their wisdom and Erod. fol. 87. on these words of Boaz to Ruth, chap. ii. ver. learning; and prove, that neither salvation nor happiness o. When thou art athirst, go unto the vessels and drink, &c. could be found in any other. Hence he was emphatically there are these remarkable words, “iga keley, ressels ; that is called, the apostle of the Gentiles, 1 Tim. ii. 7. 2 Tim. i. 11. the righteous, who are called the dessels or instruments of See also Gal. ii. 7, 8. and Eph. V. 8. Jehovah: for it is decreed that the whole world shall bring Verse 16. Ilow great things he must suffer] Instead of gifts to the king Messiah; and these are the vessels of the proceeding as a persecutor, and inflicting sufferings on others; Lord : vessels, I say, which the holy and blessed God uses, I will shew him how many things he himself must suffer, for although they be britile ; but they are brittle only in this preaching that very doctrine, which he has been hitherto emworld, that they may establish the law and the worship with ployed in persecuting. Strange change indeed! And with which the holy and blessed God is worshipped in this world; great show of reason, as with incontrovertible strength of neither can this ministry be exercised but by vessels or instru- | argument, has a noble writer, Lord Lyttleton, adduced the ments."

conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and his subsequent conduct, This mode of speech was common also among the Greek as an irrefragable proof of the truth of Christianity. and Roman writers. So POLYBIUS, speaking of Damocles, Some think that the words, I will shew him, &c. refer to Excerpta, Vol. III. lib. xiii. [Edit. Ernesti,] says, Hy Utopeto- a visionary representation which Christ was immediately to κον σκευος, και πολλας εχων εφορμας εις πραγματων οικονο- 1 give Saul, of the trials and difficulties which he should have way.

“ He was a useful instrument, and fit for the manage to encounter; as also of that dealh, by which he should ment of affairs.” We find Paul in 1 Thess. iv. 4. using the seal his testimony to the truth. If so, what a most thorough same word cxevos, for the body, agreeable to the expression conviction must Saul have had of the truth of Christianity; of Lucretius, iii. 441. Corpus, quod vas quasi constitit ejus. cheerfully and deliberately to give up all worldly honours “ The BODY, which is the vessel or instrument of the and profits, and go forward in a work which he knew a dio. soul.” See Bp. Pearce on this passage.

lent death was to terminate !

Saul believes the preaching of

THE ACTS.

Ananias, and is baptized:

A. D. cir. 33.

A. D. cir. 33.

cir, CCIII.1.

A.M.cir. 4037. said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even || as it had been scales: and he received A. M. cir: 4037. An. Olymp. Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the sight forthwith, and arose, and was

An. Olymp. cir. CCIII. 1.

way as thou camest, hath sent me, baptized. that thou mightest receive thy sight, and a be 19 And when he had received meat, he was filled with the Holy Ghost.

strengthened. • Then was Saul certain days 18 And immediately there fell from his eyes with the disciples which were at Damascus.

· Ch. 2. 4. & 4. 31. & 8. 17. & 13. 52.

• Ch. 26. 20.

Verse 17. Brother Saul] As he found that the llead of was either one of the seventy disciples, commissioned by the church had adopted Saul into the heavenly family; he Jesus Christ himself; or one of those who had been converted made no scruple to give him the right hand of fellowship ; , on the day of pentecost. If he were the former, any auand therefore said, brother Saul.

thority that man could have, he had. But, who was the The Lord, even Jesus] Of what use is this intrusive word | instrument, is a matter of little importance; as the apostleeven here? It injures the sense. St. Luke never wrote it ; | ship, and the grace by which it was to be fulfilled, came and our translators should not have inserted it. The Lord immediately from Jesus Chrit himself. Nor has there ever Jesus, the sovereign Jesus who appeared unto thee in the been an apostle, nor a legitimate successor of an apostle, that way, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and was not made such by Christ himself. If we consider the be filled with the Holy Ghost. Christ could have cured him authority, as coming by man, or through any description of as miraculously by his own power, without human means, | men; we should be arrested and confounded by the difficult as he had enlightened his heart without them; but he will ho- question, Who baptized the apostles ? Jesus Christ bapnour man by making him his agent, even in working miracles. tized no man, John iv. 2. Who then baptized Peter? Can

Verse 18. There fell from his eyes as it had been scales] the Roman conclave answer this question ? I trow not. It This was real : he had been so dazzled with the brightness of would be as difficult to answer it, as to prove Peter's șuthe light, that we may suppose the globe of the eye, and premacy. We have no evidence who baptized the apostles, particularly the cornea, had suffered considerable injury. who themselves baptized so many others. The truth is, The structure of the cornea was doubtless much disturbed, and none but Christ ever made an apostle; and none but hin. the whole of that humour would be rendered opaque, and in- | self can make and qualify a Christian minister. capable of permitting the rays of light to pass through the dif And arose, und was bapticed.] That he was baptized by ferent humours to the retina; where all the images of things | Ananias, there is every reason to believe; as he appears to transmitted through the lenses, or humours, are distinctly have been the chief Christian at Damascus. As baptism im. painted. In the miraculous cure, the membrane was restored to plied, in an adult, the public profession of that faith into its primitive state, and the opaque matter separated from the which he was baptized ; this baptism of Saul proved, at once, cornea, in the form of thin laminæ, or scales. This being his own sincerity, and the deep and thorough conviction he done, the light would have as free a passage as formerly, and had of the truth of Christianity. the result would be distinct vision.

Verse 19. When he had received meat, he was strengthened] And be filled with the Holy Ghost.] So it appears, that His mind must have been greatly worn down under his three the lloly Spirit was given to him at this time; and probably || days' conviction of sin, and the awful uncertainty he was in by the imposition of the hands of Ananias. To say, that it concerning his state: but when he was baptized, and had would be degrading to an apostle, to receive the Holy Ghost received the Holy Ghost, his soul was divinely invigorated; by means of one who was not an apostle; is a very flimsy | and now, by taking food, his bodily strength, greatly ex. argument against the evidence which the text affords, that hausted by three days' fasting, was renewed also. The body Saul did receive this Spirit by the ministry of Ananias : be- || is not supported by the bread of life ; nor the soul, by the sides, Saul was not an (postle at this time; he was not even a bread that perisheth : each must have its proper aliment, that Christian; and the Holy Ghost, which he received now, was the whole man may be invigorated, and be enabled to pergiven more to make him a thorough Christian convert, than form all the functions of the animal and spiritual life, with to make him an apostle. No person will deny that he was propriety and effect. baptized by Ananias; and certainly there was as strong an Then was Saul certain days with the disciples] Doubtless. objection against an apostle receiving baptism from one who | under instructions, relative to the doctrines of Christianity; was not an apostle, as there could be in receiving the Holy which he must learn particularly, in order to preach them Spirit from such a person. It is very likely that Ananias | successfully. His miraculous conversion did not imply, that

« PreviousContinue »