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- These particulars cannot be extracted out. of the Acts of the Apostles; which proves, as hath been already observed, that the epistle was not framed from the history: yet. they are consistent with it, which, consi.. dering how numerically circumstantial the account is, is more than could happen to arbitrary and independent fictions. When I say that these particulars are consistent with the history, I mean, first, that there is no are ticle in the enumeration which is contradicted by the history; secondly, that the history, though silent with respect to many of the facts here enumerated, has left space for the existence of these facts, consistent with the fidelity of its own narration. - First, no contradiction is discoverable between the epistle and the history. When St. Paul says, thrice was I beaten with rods, although the history record only one beating with rods, viz. at Philippi, Acts, xvi. 22, yet is there no contradiction. It is only the omission in one book of what is related in another. But had the history contained accounts, of four beatings with rods, at the time of writing this epistle, in which St. Paul says that he had only suffered three, there would have been a contradiction properly so
called. The same observation applies generally to the other parts of the enumeration, concerning which the history is silent: bút there is one clause in the quotation particularly deserving of remark; because, when confronted with the history, it furnishes the nearest approach to a contradiction, without a contradiction being actually incurred, of any I remember to have met with. “Once," saith St. Paul, “ was I stoned.” Does the history relate that St. Paul, prior to the writing of this epistle, had been stoned more than once? The history mentions distinctly one occasion upon which St. Paul was stoned, viz. at Lystra in Lycaonia. “Then came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who pers.jaded the people; and, having stoned Paul drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead.” (Chap. xiv. 19.) 'And it mentions also another occasion in which “ an assault was made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully and to stone them; but they were aware of it,” the history proceeds to tell us, “ and fled into Lystra and Derbe." This happened at Iconium, prior to the date of the epistle. Now had the assault been completed; had the history related that a
stone was thrown, as it relates that preparations were made both by Jews and Gentiles to stone Paul and his companions; or even had the account of this transaction stopped, without going on to inform us that Paul and his companions were “ aware of their danger and fled,” a contradiction between the history and the epistle would have ensued. Truth is necessarily consistent: but it is scarcely possible that independent accounts, not having truth to guide them, should thus advance to the very brink of contradiction without fall
ing into it.
Secondly, I say, that if the Acts of the Apostles be silent concerning many of the instances enumerated in the epistle, this silence may be accounted for, from the plan and fabric of the history. The date of the epistle synchronises with the beginning of the twentieth chapter of the Acts. The part, therefore, of the history, which precedes the twentieth chapter, is the only part in which can be found any notice of the persecutions to which St. Paul refers. „Now it does not appear that the author of the history was with St. Paul until his departure from Troas, of his way to Macedonia, as related chap. xvi, 10.; or rather indeed the contrary ap.. pears. It is in this point of the history that the language changes. In the seventh and eighth verses of this chapter the third person is used. “ After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia, but the spirit suffered them not; and they passing by Mysia came to Trọas:" and the third person is in like manner constantly ased throughout the foregoing part of the history. In the tenth verse of this chapter, the first person comes in: “ After Paul had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia; assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us to preach the Gospel unto them.” Now, from this time to the writing of the epistle, the history occupies four chapters; yet it is in these, if in any, that a regular or continued account of the apostle's life is to be expected: for how succinctly his history is delivered in the preceding part of the book, that is to say, from the time of his conversion to the time when the historian joined him at Troas, except the particulars of his.conversion itself which are related circumstantially, may be understood from tlie following observations: .. · The history of a period of sixteen years is comprised in less than three chapters; and of these," a material part is taken up with discourses. After his conversion, he continued in the neighbourhood of Damascus, according to the history, for a certain considerable, though indefinite length of time, according to his own words (Gal. i. 18.) for three years ; of which no other account is given than this short one, that “ straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God; that all that heard him were amazed, and said, Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem ? that he increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus; and that, after many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him.” From Damascus he proceeded to Jerusalem : and of his residence there nothing more particular is recorded, than that “ he was with the apostles, coming in and going out; that he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians who went about to kill him.” From Jerusalem, the history sends him to his nar tive city of Tarsus*. . It seems probable, from the order and disposition of the history, that St. Paul's stay at Tarsus was of some