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after. And least of all could they authorise him in what was peculiarly his gofpel, exempting the Gentile converts from the law of Moses, when that was a dispus ted point at least fourteen years after?
As for Ananias, it could not be pretended, that he gave him any powers to act as an apostle, when himself was none. Saul was indeed directed to go forward to Damascus, where it should be told him what he was to do. But it was not told him, that he Thould receive these instructions, either from Ananias, or any other man. Nor did Ananias himself receive any instructions to give him, but was only ordered to go and restore him his fight, and to baptize him, in this view, That he was a chosen vessel, to hold forth the immense treasure of the gospel of Christ. As for the rest, Ananias knew, that Jesus had appeared to him on the way: and it may well be presumed, that he understood his business better than to interfere without special orders, where such a teacher had been beforehand with him ; who, he certainly knew, was well able to perfect what he had in such a miraculous manner begun,
But however that might be, it was impoffible for one in Saul's circumstances to acquire the necessary knowledge in so little time, by any human instruction whatsoever. For no sooner was he brought into the Christian community, than he fet about preaching Christ in the fynagogue, to the amazement of all who heard him, as we read, Acts ix. 20. 21. The fame account he gives of himself here, verf. 16. Immediately 1 conferred not with flesh and blood; as much as to say, he did not deliberate a moment, either to consult his own ease and conveniency, or to advise with others. He said to Jesus, when he convinced him of his folly, “Lord, what “ wilt thou have me to do ?" And when he was told what he was to do, he fell about it without either demur or delay. This is so plainly his meaning, that it seems quite needless to dispute about what he should mean by flesh and blood, as that expression will be found to comprehend all the means of worldly wisdom, and the methods which men take to determine their conduct in cases where they have fo much at stake as the Apostle had. No man in the Jewith nation had a fairer
prospect than Paul. But, as he says, Phil.
We have no where any account of Paul's preaching, either at Damascus or in Arabia; but that“ he mightily convinced the “ Jews;" or rather strongly proved to them, “ that Jesus was the Christ.” That was the capital point then in dispute ; and so comprehensive, that they who understood it, and knew the character of Christ, and the business on which he came into
the world, found in it a complete system . of religion. Only, by his way of speaking
in this epistle, of the invariable sameness of the gospel he preached, and that the
Son of God was revealed in him, with .. this express design, that he should preach
him among the Heathen, it seems pretty evident, that he received his first commiflion at the time of his conversion, and immediately Tet about the execution of it, especially among the Arabians; which might be an additional reason of the severe per
I 2 ; .fecution
fecution intended against him at Damascus, where he was so narrowly watched, that there was no way of saving his life, but by letting him down by the wall in á basket.
When he escaped to Jerusalem, he run the same risk there; and even a worse; for we find, that the disciples there were all afraid of him, and would not believe that he was a disciple, until Barnabas was at pains to inform them better. And when the Jews there, and particularly the Jews from Greece, could not resist the force of his reasonings, they went about to kill him; which when the brethren knew, they conveyed him away, first to Cefarea, and thence he went to Tarsus, his native city. And this is what he tells us here, verf. 21. of his going into the regions of Syria and Cilicia.
But it must be remembered, that there was another and higher reason for this journey than this prudential caution of the brethren. For at this time must have happened what the Apostle tells the Jews, in his speech to them, Acts xxii. 18.-21. where his master ordered him to depart quickly from Jerusalem, “ because they
“ would not receive his testimony;" but