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The Conversion of St. Paul.
O GOD, who through the preaching of the blessed Apostle Saint Paul hast caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world; Grant, we beseech thee, that we having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may shew forth our thankfulness unto thee
for the same, by following the holy doctrine which he taught, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
For the Epistle. Acts ix. 1. (a) AND Saul, yet breathing out threatenings (b) and slaughter against the disciples of the (c) Lord, went unto the high priest, 2. and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of (d) this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3. And as he journeyed, he came
(a) Lord Lyttleton, in an admirable discussion on the conversion and conduct of St. Paul, considers it of itself sufficient to satisfy any reasonable mind of the truth of the Christian religion. St. Paul must have known, to a certainty, whether what is here stated really did happen to him, and whether he really received the spiritual communications, and possessed the supernatural powers elsewhere mentioned: and he could have had no temporal views, because his profession was decidedly against his worldly interest. What he went through and endured for the Christian cause (See post, 79. 80. 2 Cor. xi. 23. to 27.) is strong proof that he was no impostor. St. Luke, who wrote the Acts, was with St. Paul the greatest part of twelve years, from A. D. 46, to A. D. 58, so that his account of the conversion may be depended upon as correct. The conversion is supposed to have occurred A. D. 35. two years after the Crucifixion.
(b) v. 1. "Threatenings and slaughter." This shews that the first converts were
near Damascus ; and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4. and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, "Saul, Saul, why
persecutest thou me?" 5. And he said, "Who art thou, Lord?” and the (e) Lord said, "I am Jesus "whom thou persecutest: it is "hard for thee to kick against "the pricks." 6. And he trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, "what wilt thou have me to do ?" And the (e) Lord said unto him, "Arise, and go into the city, and "it shall be told thee what thou "must do." 7. And the men which
journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice (g), but seeing no man. 8. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10. And there was a
severely persecuted, and that it could not be desirable, as to worldy views, to embrace Christianity: what then could have induced the apostles to persevere themselves, and to bring over others, but the certain knowledge that they had seen our Saviour after his crucifixion, and that they had assurances in which they could not have been mistaken or deceived, that Jesus was the Messiah; and what could have worked upon any one to turn to this persuasion, but the conviction, from seeing what the apostles did, that God was with them?
(c) "The Lord," Te Kuple.
(d) v. 2." Any of this way," i. e. "Christian converts."
(e) v. 5. 6. "The Lord,"
(g) v. 7. "A voice," or "the voice," The pavñs, with the article. In Acts xxii. 9. St. Paul says, "they heard not the “ voice,” τὴν δε φωνὴν ἐκ ἤκουσαν : they might hear the voice, and yet not distinguish what was said.
eyes as it had been scales; and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, "that he is the "Son (k) of God." 21. But all that heard him were amazed, and said, "Is not this he that de"stroyed them which called on "this name in Jerusalem, and "came hither for that intent, that "he might bring them bound unto "the chief priests?" 22. But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.
certain disciple at Damascus,
The Gospel. Matt. xix. 27. PETER answered and said unto Jesus, "Behold we have forsaken all and followed thee: what shall "we have therefore?" 28. And Jesus said unto them, "Verily I "say unto you, That ye which "have followed me, in the re
generation, when the Son of "man shall sit in the throne of "his () glory, ye also shall sit "upon twelve thrones, judging "the twelve tribes of Israel. "29. And every one that hath "forsaken houses, or brethren, or
great things he must suffer for "my name's sake." 17. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the (i) house; and putting his hands on him, said, "Brother Saul, the (h) Lord, even "Jesus, that appeared unto thee "in the way as thou camest, hath "sent me, that thou mightest "receive thy sight, and be filled" "with the Holy Ghost." 18. And immediately there fell from his
(h) v. 11. 15. 17. “The Lord," Kupios. (i) v. 17. "the house," i. e. "of Judas," mentioned v. 11.
sisters, or father, or mother, or "wife, or children, or lands, for "my name's sake, shall receive
rendered. Our Saviour there speaks of coming in his own glory, and his Father's, and that of the holy angels, τη δόξη αὑτῷ, καὶ τῷ Tárpos, &c. And would he thus have spoken of his own glory, and have named the Father between himself and the holy angels, had he not been conscious of, and meant to intimate, his own equality with the Father?
(k) v. 20. "The Son of God," viós O, with the articles — a transcendent title! See ante, 41. note on John xx. 31. (7) v. 28. "his," rather "his own," 86 aut. The same expression occurs, Luke ix. 26. where it is necessarily so
O GOD, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers, that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright; Grant to us such strength and protection, as may support us in all dangers, and carry us through all tempt ations, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Epistle. Rom. xiii. 1. LET (m) every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the
(m) v. 1. "Let, &c." The apostles were anxious to satisfy their converts that their spiritual subjection to Christ did not exempt them from temporal subjection to the established government under which they lived. A contrary doctrine would have had a tendency to set all established governments against them, and would have answered no spiritual end: Thus St. Paul directs Titus "to put the converts in "mind to be subject to principalities and "powers, and to obey magistrates. Tit.
iii. 1.;" and St. Peter exhorts them, (1 Pet. ii. 13.) to submit to every ordinance of "man for the Lord's sake (i. e. as matter of duty) "whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto "them that are sent by him for the punish"ment of evil doers, and for the praise of "them that do well." See post, on 1 Pet. ii. 13. (R) v. 2. "Ordinance," i. e. " appointment."
(o) v. 3. "Wilt, &c." i. e. " if you wish "to avoid being in fear of the power do
ordinance (n) of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. selves damnation. 3. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt (0) thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the (p) same: 4. for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute (q) wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath (r), but also for conscience sake. 6. For, for this (s) cause pay you (t) tribute also for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this (u) very thing. 7. Render therefore to all their dues; tribute to whom (x) tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
"that which is good, and instead of punish"ment, it shall give thee praise, for it is "the minister of God to thee for good, it' "thou actest right, for punishment if thou "doest evil."
(p) v. 3. "The same," i. e. "the power." (q) v. 4. "Wrath," i. e. "punishment.” (r) v. 5. "For wrath, &c." "Not only "to avoid the punishment of man, but "from a sense that it is part of your duty "to God."
(s) v.6. "For this cause," i. e. "be"cause they are God's ministers." (t) "Pay you," i. e. "you are to pay, "it is your duty." (u) This very thing," i. "the pu"nishment of evil-doers, and the praise of "them that do well."
The Gospel. Matt. viii. 23. (y) AND when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. 24. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. 25. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, "Lord (2), save us: we perish. 26. And he saith unto them, Why are "ye fearful, O ye of little faith ?" Then he arose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. 27. But the men marvelled, saying, "What manner "of man is this, that even the winds "and the sea obey (a) him?" 28. And when he was come to the other side, into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the (b) tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. 29. And, behold, they cried out, saying, "What "have we to do with thee, "Jesus, thou Son of God? art "thou come hither to torment
"us before the time ?" 30. And
(y) The miracles here stated were perhaps before the call of St. Matthew, so that the testimony is not, as in many other instances, that of an eye-witness. St. Matthew's call is not mentioned till the next chapter; and his statement implies that it was after these events, though not long after them. His association, however, almost immediately after their occurrence, with those disciples in whose presence they occurred, when they would naturally be topics of conversation and astonishment, gives his statement great credit.
(z) v. 25. "Lord," Kupie, applying to him for what nothing but divine power could effect.
(a) v. 27. "Obey him?" So that he must have indicated by his manner, that the command proceeded from himself,
there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. 31. So the devils besought him, saying, "If thou cast us out, "suffer us to go away into the "herd of swine." 32. And he said unto them, "Go." And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and behold, the whole herd of (c) swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters: 33. And they that kept them fled, and went their ways into the (d) city, and told every thing, and what was befallen to the possessed of the devils. 34. And, behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus: and when they saw him, they (e) besought him that he would depart out of their coasts.
THE PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE, commonly called The Purification of the Virgin Mary.
ALMIGHTY and everliving God, we humbly beseech thy Majesty,
and that the effect was produced by his own power. The inference would be that he had the power of God: and he does nothing to prevent that inference. The consequence is, he meant it to be drawn. Graves's Trinity, p. 71. See Matt. xiv. 24.
(b) v. 28. "The tombs," which were in the wildest and most unfrequented situations, amidst rocks and mountains. Middl.
(c) v. 32. "Swine." If these were kept by Jews, it was a breach of their law: if by Gentiles, but in the country of the Jews, it was a snare to them.
(d) v. 33. "The city," i. e. " of the "Gergesenes."
(e) v. 34. "Besought him, &c." St. Mark and St. Luke assign fear as their reason for this request, Luke viii. 37. — Mark v. 15.
that as thy only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple in substance of our flesh; so we may be presented unto thee with pure and clean hearts, by the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(g) Malachi prophesied about 430 years before our Saviour's time.
(k) v. 1. "Messenger." John the Baptist was this messenger: and he prepared
way before our Saviour (that is, prepared men's hearts for his reception,) by preaching "repentance, for the kingdom "of heaven is at hand." See Matt. iii. 2.8-12. Isaiah had before foretold that there would be such a messenger, (Isaiah xl. 3.) "The voice of him that crieth in "the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of "the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God." See post. In Bp. Chandler's Defence of Christianity, and Dr. Trapp's Second Discourse, the passage in Malachi is well commented upon and explained.
(i) v. 1. "Me." And yet it was before Christ, and for him, that the way was to be prepared: Christ therefore is the speaker here, and to him is here applied the expression at the end of the verse, "The Lord (Hebr. Jehovah) of Hosts." Bellarm. lib. 1. De Christo, c. 4. p. 283.
(4) "The Lord." Hebr. not Jehovah, but Adon. See note on Ps. ii. 4.
(7)" Whom ye seek," "the Messenger "of the covenant, whom ye delight in." These expressions import, that even at this time the coming of the Messiah was an object to which they looked forward; and the repeated prophecies from time to time delivered with a view to that event, were admirably calculated to keep alive in them that expectation. Immediately after the fall, they had an intimation that "the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head;" and this, though indefinite, might raise in them a hope that at some time or other there would be a deliverer, to give them the opportunity of regaining what by the fall they had forfeited, the chance of eternal life. God afterwards promised to Abraham, that in "him and his seed should all the families "or nations of the earth be blessed. "Gen. xii. 3. xxii. 18." This might induce a belief that the Deliverer would be of his
seed. This promise was renewed, in nearly the same words, to Isaac, Gen. xxvi. 4. and to Jacob, xxviii. 14. Before Jacob died, he called his sons together, that he might tell them what should befal them (and their posterity) in the last days; and unto Judah he said, "the sceptre shall "not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver "from between his feet, until Shiloh "come; and to him shall the gathering of "the people be. Gen. xl. 10." This raised the belief that the Deliverer should be of the tribe of Judah, and that that tribe should have some degree of power until his coming. By "Shiloh" is certainly meant the Messiah; and the intimation, "that unto him should the gathering of "the people be," agrees with the character before given him, that in him should all the nations of the earth be blessed, and corresponds with the title by which he is called in a subsequent prophecy, Hagg. ii. 7." the desire of all nations." Daniel speaks of the Messiah, and the time of his coming, with great particularity, "seventy weeks are determined "upon thy people, and upon thy holy city, "to finish the transgression and to make "an end of sin, and to make reconciliation "for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting "righteousness, and to seal up the vi"sion and prophecy, and to anoint the "most holy: Know therefore, and under"stand, that from the going forth of the "commandment to restore and to build Je"rusalem unto the Messiah the prince shall "be seven weeks, and three score and "two weeks: Dan. ix.24." A week, in prophetic language, means seven years, a day for a year, as Gen. xxix. 27.-Lev. xxv. 8. Ezek. iv. 4-6. The commandment here referred to, 66 to restore and to build Jeru"salem," is probably, either one in the seventh or one in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longinanus. See Ezra vii. and Nehem.ii. The seventh year of Artaxerxes was exactly 490 years, or seventy weeks of years, before the crucifixion, and in that year Artaxerxes made a decree to allow all