Page images

tended to excite, even from the first, man's humble faith and trust. As the age of the world advanced, the promise grew brighter and brighter. It was said to Abraham, “In thy feed fhall all the nations of the earth be blessed ;” and soon afterwards, it was added, “In Isaac shall thy seed he blessed.” From time to time the promise was renewed, 6 there was to be a root of Jesse that was to reign over the Gentiles, and in him should the Gentiles truft;" and again, it was ftill more destinally said, “ Behold a virgin fhall conceive, and shall bear a son, and fhall call his name Emanuel," (or God with us.) And again, “For unto us a child is born, unio us a son is given, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” In the 53d of Isaiah, all the particulars of his coming are mentioned; "He was to be despised and rejected of men ; he was to bear our griefs, and carry our infirinities; he was to be brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before the shearers is dumb, so he was not to open his mouth; and he was also to make his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death." And now the long-expected Saviour, " the desire of all nations," appears. Prophecy is fulfilled, for his birth and parentage agree with the declarations made concerning him by the prophets. Miracles also are performed by him, and in the very manner which had been foretold__" the blind receive their fight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised

and the


have the gospel preached unto them.” Every divine virtue appears also in his character, and divine truth drops from his lips. He now calls together his apostles, to whom seventy disciples are added. An infant church is formed, the seed of that great Christian Church which was to follow.' The proofs that Jesus Christ was sent down from God are encreased, and every day affords some fresh evi. dence in favor of christianity. It is the cause of God, and it prevails. “ The world,” say the Pharisees, "are gone after him.” “ Hosannah to the son of David; Hosannah in the highest.' And now the twelve are sent forth expressly to preach the gospel, and to declare the coming of Chrift.

But where is Paul the Apostle ? Is not he also among the twelve ? No, it is remarkable, that in reading through the four evangelists, we do not so much as find any mention of his name. Surely, then, he must have been ignorant that Jesus was born, and that the promised Saviour

He must have dwelt in some distant corner of the land, in some village, to which the fame of Christ had happened not yet to reach. -No, he was of Tursus, a neighboring city of Galicia, and he dwelt even in Jerusalem. But surely, then Paul must have been some heathen, who was unacquainted with the Old Testament prophecies; some creature of Cæsar, engaged in mere affairs of state, who could know no

was come.

so part

thing of the Jewish Messiah. No, he was a Jew, and even one of the Pharisees, who were the strictest feet of the Jews; he was “i bred also at the feet of Gamaliel."--Perhaps, then, he was examining the Old Testament evidence, or he was observing the character and the actions of the Messiah, that he might know whether this was truly the Son of God. But at length Christ is crucified, and now many additional prophecies are fulfilled; for it was written, “ T'hạt Chrift should suffer." 66 The soldiers al.


garments among them, and for his vesture they cast lots.” He rises also from the grave, that the Scriptures might be fulfilled. • He breaks the bonds of death asunder, because it was not possible for him to be holden of them." And now also we read that he shews himself to a variety of persons; at one time 56 to Cephas, then to the twelve;" and then his resurrection is made manifeft, for he appears

to five hundred brethren at once." Does Paul come forward now, and own he is con-. vinced? Oh, no; the Apostles go forth, Paul alone excepted, and the disciples “go forth," on every side, and with great power give they witness of the resurrection of Christ from the dead." . Behold the Saviour, having finished his work, ascending triumphantly into heaven, while a cloud receives him out of their fight. After this event, furely, every one must believe. After this event, Peter, even Peter who had denied his Lord, waxes bold in the very pre

fence of his murderers; unbelieving Thomas having long before been constrained to cry out, “ My Lord and my God.” Now too, the flock of Christians begins to gather itself together, and at length“ the day of Penticost is fully come;"? 66 three thousand are added to the church on one day, of such as shall be saved.” The gift of tongues is bestowed, and the apostles, and having tarried at Jerusalem for the promise of the spirit, go forth on every fide, having received power from on high, the Lord also confirming the word with figns following."

But where, I say again, is Paul of Tarsus? Is he not now joined to the apostles? Is he not now a convert to the cause of Christ?-No; it is remarkable, on the contrary, that the first time when we read of him, is on the event of Stephen's being stoned to death; for it is said of Paul on that occasion, “ that he kept the rai. ment of them that ilew him.” Are you not now aftonished at this wicked Paul, at this Jew, this Pharisee, this Hebrew of the Hebrews, this Doctor and Teacher in Israel, that he should be seen holding the clothes of those who were stoning Stephen, for Stephen was a preacher of Chrilt, a preacher of Paul's own Messiah. --But let us next observe Paul beginning to “ breathe out slaughter against the Chriltians," and applying to the chief priests for "authority to bind the Christians and put them to death.” It usually happens, whenever the gospel is made known, that a certain time is afforded for laying open

the great evidences and doctrines of it ; and if these are neglected, and the ordinary time is paffed, I believe it often comes to pass, that great hardness of heart follows, and that the unbeliever then is not an unbeliever only, but perhaps also a hinderer of the gospel, nay, a persecutor even, and injurious. Paul had now had the full opportunity of thus examining the truth of Christianity; he had been in the way of hearing much of Christ, and he might, if he pleased, have satisfied himself of the reality of his resurrection ;- nay, he had seen the martyr Stephen die in this very faith, and had himself “beheld his face shine like that of an angel;" but Paul had fmothered his convi&tións ; pride and prejudice, and many angry paslions, conceit of his own wisdom, trust in his own righteousness, and confidence in his own religious opinions, together with bigotry to his sect; thefe caufes, or causes like these, disguising themselves under the facred name of religion, hurried him even into the hottest persecutions, " for he verily thought that he ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, and he perfecuted the believers in Christ, even unto death, binding and delivering into prison, both men and women, punishing them also in every city, and giving his voice against them, and being exceedingly mad againlt them, he compelled them to blaspheme." And now what hall we say? Can your patience any longer bear with this unworthy Jew? Are you not

« PreviousContinue »