Page images
PDF
EPUB

Julian Pee 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Jerusalem.
riod, 4747.
Valgar Æra,

11: Lord, lay not this sin to their charge! And when he had
"said this, he fell asleep.

1 And Saul was consenting unto his death.

2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him ".

SECTION XXIV.
General Persecution of the Christians, in which Saul,

(afterwards St. Paul,) particularly distinguishes him-
self.

Acts viïi. part of ver. 1. and ver. 3.
1 - And at that time there was a great persecution
against the church which was at Jerusalem ; and they were
all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and
Samaria, except the apostles **.
was uttered in a prayer to Jesus : first for himself, and then
for his murderers. “They stoned Stephen, calling upon God,
and saying, Lord Jesus receive my spirit ; and he cried wilh a
loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." It is to be
noted, that the word God is not in the original text, which
might be better rendered thus: “ They stoned Stephen, inyo-
cating, and saying," &c. Jesus therefore was the God whom
the dying martyr invocated in bis last agonies; when men are
apt to pray, with the utmost seriousness, to him whom they con-
ceive the mightiest to save (6).

It is well observed by Kuinocl, that if St. Stephen bad invok-
ed God the Father, the Evangelist would have written kúpie Toû
Incoû. A similar expression to that of the dying martyr is found
Apoc. xxii. 20. where we read čexe kúpie 'Ingoû. We ought not
therefore to read Ocòv after étikalépevov, but to understand the
former words tov kúplov 'Ingõv (c).

(a) Horæ Hebraicæ, vol. 1. p. 442. (b) Horsley's Letters in reply to Dr. Priestley-Lett. xii. p. 232, 8vo. edit. (c) Kuinoel in lib. Hist. vol. iv. p. 290. See also Dr. Pye Smith's excellent criticism on this passage.

13 These chapters are most carelessly divided in our Bibles. The first clause of ver. 1. evidently belongs to the preceding verse. The acount of the burial of Stephen seems to be more appropriately introduced immediately after the parrative of his martyrdom, rather than parenthetically, in the history of the subsequent persecution (a).

(a) See Bishop Barrington, Beza, and Markland's observations, ap. Bowyer.

* The apostles were protected by the especial providence of God, to continue to build up the Church at Jerusalem, till the time arrived for the general dispersion of Christianity throughout the world. The secondary causes of their safety during the heat of the present persecution are unknown. They were not, as some bave imagined, too obscure to be noticed, for they had already repeatedly incurred the public censure of their rulers; nor can we suppose that the high priest, or his coadjutors, were afraid of inflicting the same punishment on them as on others. They seem to have been preserved by an Almighty Providence, to promote the unity of the Church, by directing and govern

34.

Julian Pe 8 Ås for Saul, he made havoc of the church", entering Jerusalem.
riod, 4747.
Vulgar Pra,

ing the remnant of those who were left at Jerusalem. For unto
the Jews first the Gospel was to be preached. Lightfoot endea-
vours to prove, that those who were obliged to fly from that
city, and went every where preaching the Gospel, were the
hundred and eight who together with the apostles made up
the hundred and twenty mentioned at the beginning of the Acts.
His reasons are :

That the Evangelist commences with the history of the 120,
and pursues it througbout,

By instancing Philip, he shews wbat class of men is understood, when he says “They were scattered.”

The term, evayyedikóuevouis never applied to any other than to preachers by function.

Persecution would first look to the preachers. Many of the
common Cbristians were left at Jerusalem (a).

(a) Lightfoot's Works, vol. viii. p. 122.
45 The word mvuaivero,' in this passage, which our tran-
slators have rendered “ he made havoc of the church," pro-
perly signifies, to ravage as a wild beast, to destroy as a beast
of prey. It is used in this sepse in the Septuagint, Dan. vi. 22.
Xéovtes our tduunvavré poi, the lions have not devoured, hurt,
or torn me, and Ps. Ixxix. 14. člvunvato attiv ús opuuou,
The wild boar from the wood hath spoiled, or laid waste 'this
vine. For quotations to the same effect, from classical authors,
see a profusion in Wetstein in loc.

The word thus used, reminds me of a singular, but ingenious
dissertation, of the learned Vitringa, on the discovery of a sup-
posed type of St. Paul's conversion in the Old Testament. It
will probably excite the surprise and curiosity of the theolo-
gical student, to hear that the young lion whom Samson met
and slew, in his way to the daughter of the Philistine at Tim-
nath, was a type of St. Paul. As the work is rare, I have ex-
tracted the chief particulars of this supposed resemblance.

After proceeding on the usual plan of all inventors of new
bypotheses, and strange theories, with bespeaking the favour
of his reader, by expressions of diffidence, and various remarks
on the authors who had considered the subject in other points
of view, he divides his imagined resemblances under these
three heads—the events of Samson's life which preceded the
encounter of Samson with the lion-the combat itself-and
the consequences wbich followed. In all of which the learned
writer discovers some typical allusions to St. Paul.

Vitringa first points out the typical resemblance between
Samson and our Lord.

Samson, born out of the usual course of nature, and a Naza-
rite from the womb, loved a Philistine, a stranger to his own
people.

Our Lord, the Son of Mary, filled from the womb with the Holy Ghost, loved the Gentiles, though they were despised and bated by his own people.

Samsop acted under a divide influence.

The love of Christ to his Gentile Church, was according to the divine counsel and foreknowledge of God.

Samson displeased his father and motber, who would have dissuaded him from going to Timnath; being ignorant of the divine will.

The Jewish Church, and its high priest and governors, strenuously opposed the design of preaching or appealing to the Gentiles, not believing it was the appointment of God.

Julian Pe; into every house; and haling men and women, com- Jerusalem. ried, 1744. mitted them to prison. Falgar Æra,

The parents of Samson, overcome by his perseverance, at length accompanied their son to Timnath.

That portion of the Jewish Church which embraced Chris.
tianity, and bad warmly objected to the admission of the Gen-
tiles, yielded at length to the evidence of St. Peter's vision;
and acknowledged the Gentiles as brethren.

Samson went to Timnath, when the Philistines governed
Israel,

Our Lord appealed to the Gentiles at the time when the Ro-
mans, a foreign power, ruled in Judea.

II. While the parents of Samson were going down with him to Timpatb, for the purpose of marrying the Philistine virgin to their son, a young lion met Samson in the way.

During the interval which elapsed between the death of Stephen, who had pleaded the cause of Christ before the presidents of the Jewish nation, and declared the overthrow of their economy, and the calling of the Gentiles, and between the invitation of the Gentiles by Peter, to the spiritual marriage of Christ, at which time Christ was, as it were, in the way to accomplish his will towards the Gentiles in this interval of time, I say, Christ was opposed or met by Saul, a young man, fiercely hostile to his religion ; armed against him by the power of the Sanbedrim, and eager to ravage and devour his Church. With 1 Tim. i. 13. Vitringa particularly refers to this passage-Paulus vero é vuaiveto TTV Ecrinolav, vastabat Ecclesiam, instar Ursi aut Leonis.

It was a young lion which met Samson. Vitringa confirms his hypothesis by the peculiar description of this young lion, which is called not 77), a whelp, but 177031, Leunculus Leonum aut Leænarum, p. 481, or, as he terms it in p. 488. Leo juvenis.

St. Paul was a young man, highly distinguished among the persecutors of the Church, who were most attached to the Jewish discipline.

The lion roared at him (as ready and intent to devour him,) nxoph Jxv, roaring over against him, or opposite to bim.

Saul is similarly described, as breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples.

Samson met the lion in the way to Timnath, a city of the Phi. listines, situated in a valley.

This description corresponds with the situation of Damascus.

It was not far from the city-St. Paul was not far from Damascus.

This young lion, Samson, without any weapon, reut with his hands, as a kid is rent.

Sanl, whom Christ met in the way, fierce and raging against him, was thrown down to the ground, and became dead both to his former self, and to the law of Moses, Acts ix. 4. Gal. ii. 19. —and as the lion met Samson, as if to prevent his nuptials at Timpath, so also did St. Paul'meet our Lord in the way, when he was endeavouring to prevent the predicted union between Christ and the Gentile Church.

Although Samson's father and mother were not present, they were not far removed—but this action of Samson's, in the way to Timnath, was performed without either their knowledge or observance.

The Sanhedrim of the Jewish Church, though present by their delegates, did not see the overthrow of Saul.' St. Luke is considered as giving another explanation of this part of the

Julian Pe.
SECTION XXV.

Samaria. riod, 4747. Vulgar Æra, Philip the Deacon having left Jerusalem on account of the 34.

supposed type, when he says, “tbe men who were with me
stood speechless, hearing some sound of a voice confusedly, but
seeing no man."

Samson, by his conquest over the lion, gave an earnest to the
world, of his power over the enemies of Israel. -

Christ, the Lord of the Church, by his victory over Saul, demonstrated his power to subdue and subject to himself the most implacable and powerful of his enemies.

Vitringa then proceeds to consider the consequences of the death of the lion, and compares them with those that followed St. Paul's conversion.

While Samson was engaged in completing the ceremonial of his nuptials, a hive of bees collect in the body of the lion, and there prepare honey.

While Christ was uniting the Gentite Church to himself, by the preaching of St. Peter, and the conversion of Cornelius and his friends, the disciples of Christ collcct at Damascus, with St. Paul, now dead to sin and the law, constantly exercised themselves in the study of the divine word, and by these labours brought forth sweet and wholesome food, which is the spiritual nourishment and consolation of the sinner. Honey is the symbol of those healthful and useful truths which are obtained by the studies of diligent men from the word of God, to feed others, that is, to instruct and console them: this emblem is common in Scripture. (Prov. xxiv, 19. and xxv. 16. Can. v. l. Ps. xix. 11.) While bees represent those industrious men wbo gatber truths from their own labour and exertions. Saul was with the disciples at Damascus for many days (Acts ix. 11.); they were soon united with him, as a hive of bees, per modum examinis apum, Titus, Timothy, Silas, Epaphroditus, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus surnamed Justus, and many others, producing honey as it were in the carcase of Saul, who being now dead to sin and the law, took an opportunity of explaining by his conversion the doctrine of grace in Christ Jesus to the advantage and consolation of himself and others.

Samson tasted of the honey, and was refreshed.

The labours, the devotedness, the energy of St. Paul, may bo
said to have produced that honey of wbich the bridegroom
(Cant. v. I.) ate, and in which he is there represented to delight;
and our Lord indeed really and typically ate after his resurrec-
tion.

The father and mother of Samson ate of this honey, though
they were ignorant whence it was obtained, and how it was pre-

pared.

The doctrines of Christianity, which the companions of St,
Paul taught in the synagogues of Damascus, astonished the
Jews, (Acts ix. 11.) who were ignorant of the source whence
the honey was produced.

Samson, at the nuptial feast, proposed an enigma to his com-
panions -Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong,
or fierce, or implacable one, came forth sweetness, which was
to be answered at the end of three days.

The conversion of St. Paul was a circumstance so paradoxical and enigmatical, that it was considered by the Jews as an incredible and unaccountable event, (Gal. i. 23.) neither did the disciples believe it, nor receive Paul till after the lapse of the three years which he passed ip Arabia.

Jalian Pe Persecution, goes to Samaria, and preaches there, and Samaria.
riod, 4747.
Vegarra,
works Miracles.

Acts viï. 5-13.
5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria", and
preached Christ unto them.

Samson himself, at the intreaties of his wise, explained the enigma.

Barnabas, a Jew, an apostle of the Gentiles, related the epigma of the conversion of St. Paul, and how the Lord had appeared to bim in the way to Damascus.

It ought not to excite surprize, that there should be an appearance of fancifulness in this parallel : the wonder rather is, that the learned Writer's ingenuity should have discovered so many coincidences. I am unwilling to come to his conclusions, as I find no allusion in the New Testament to this supposed type. The analogy, bowever, is curious.

Vitringa is not the only writer who has discovered some allu. sion to St. Paul in the Old Testament. Witsius (a) bas quoted Cocceius, who has followed with some variations the authority of Tertullian, Ambrose, Jerome, and St. Augustin, in applying to St. Paul (Gen. xlix. 27.) Benjamin shall raven as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night be shall divide the spoil. The Fathers would thus explain this prophecy-Paul, in the morning of his life, like a wolf devoured the Church, and in the evening, or the decline or latter division of his life, divided the spoils of the Gentiles, delivered from the dominion of Satan, with Christ and his Church. The interpretation of Cocccius is more elegant-He observes that the Israelites, as a nation, had their rising and their setting ; and on each occasion Benjamin was conspicuous. Saul was the first king of the nation, and defeated their enemies ; another Saul, in the decline of the

Gentiles. Witsius, however, rejects both these interpretations ;
and shews that the predictions were more probably fulfilled in
the history of the tribe of Benjamin. The wolf also is used as
an emblem of corrupt and erroncous teachers, rather than of
the faithful and zealous.

Though Witsius rejects these supposed meanings of the pas-
sage, be inclines to the opinion of Jerome, Theoderet, Nicolaus
à Lyra, Pellicanus, and others, that Psalm lxviii. 28. is rightly
applied to the apostle of the Gentiles. He prefers the Junian
version-Illic sic Benjamin, parvus, et dominator eorum; prin-
cipes Jehudæ, et cætus eorum ; principes Zebullonis, principes
Naphtbali. The first part of this passage may refer to St. Paul,
the latter to the other apostles, who belonged to the districts of
Zabulon and Naphthali. Altinguus, in his treatise de Schiloh
Dominatore, lib. v. cap. 20. and in bis Comment, on the Psalm,
Oper. Tom. ii. Part iii. p. 111. ap. Witsi. has revived and de-
fended this opinion. It is not impossible that the verse ought
to have been thus interpreted : Bishop Horne, however, has
not noticed it.

(a) See Vitringæ Observ. Sacræ, vol. ï. p. 479_492. Witsius devita Pauli Meletem. Leidens. cap. i. sect. viii. p. 5.

46 The apostles (Acts viii. 1.) had not yet left Jerusalem. This Philip, therefore, must not be confounded with the apostle. It was the Deacon, who after his mission to Samaria, went to his own house at Cesarea, where St. Paul was afterwards receiva, ed. (Acts xxi. 8.)

The first effect of the Gospel of Christ was the removal of

« PreviousContinue »