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Sergius Paulus the Roman Governor ; and others that it was assumed by him after his Conversion, as an Act of Humility ; stiling himself less than the least of all Saints.
Eph. 3.8. Q. Where was St. Paul born ?
À, At Tarsus, the Metropolis of Cilicia, a A&s22.3. City famous for Riches and Learning ; where the liberal Sciences and all police Arts flourished, and where the Inhabitants enjoyed the Franchises and Liberties of Roman Citizens; which Chap. 16. Advantage St. Paul asserted as the Privilege of 37. his Birthright. After having laid the Foundation of human Learning in this Place, he was sent by his parents to Jerusalem, to be brought up at the Feet of Gamaliel in the Study of the Law, in which he made very quick and large Improvements.
Q. How came be to be educated besides to the Trade of Tent-making.
A. According to the Custom of the Jews, among whom it was a Maxim, That be who teacbeth not his Son a Trade, teacheth him to be a Thief; designing thereby not only to keep their Children from Idleness, but to secure them a Maintenance of their Circumstances made it necessary to work at it,
Q. How did St. Paul bebave bimself before bis Conversion ?
A. Being educated in the Principles of the Pharisees, the strictest Sect of the Jewish Religion, and being naturally of a hot Temper, he violently opposed all those that were esteemed Enemies to the Mofaick Oeconomy; and perse. Acs 8.3. cuted the Christians with great Fury, breathing out Threatnings and Slaughter against the Disciples at Jerusalem; making Havock of the Chap. 9.
Church, and procuring a Commission to im.
prison such as he found Christians at Damascus, Acts 8. 1. How far he was concerned in the Martyrdom
of St. Stephen, doth not appear, any farther than that he was confenting to his Death, and so be. came a Sharer in the Guilt of those that murdered him.
Q. How was St. Paul converted ?
A. In an extraordinary Manner; for when 9.3,4,&c. he was upon his Journey near to Damascus, on
a sudden there shone round about him a Light from Heaven above the Brightness of the Sun; whereat being strangely amazed, he and his Companjons fell to the Ground; and he heard a Voice calling to him, Saul, Saul, why persecuteft thou me ? To which he replied, Lord, who art thou? who told him, I am Jesus whom tbou perfecutest, and it is best for thee not to be refractory to the Commands which shall now be given thee; designing to make him a Minister and Witness both of those Things he had seen, and of those he should afterwards hear : and that he would stand by him and preserve him, and make him a great Instrument in the Conversion of the Gentile World.
Q. Wbat Effecthadtbe heavenly Vision upon bim?
1. The great Splendor of it made him blind
for three Days; but he did not with Elymas the Acts 13. Sorceror, pervert the right Ways of the Lord, nor
with his Brethren the Jews resist the Evidence Mat
. 3: of a Voice from Heaven, whịch testified to our 17.
Saviour's Divinity at his Baptism ; but became obedient to the heavenly Vision, and upon this Discovery of his Saviour diligently enquired his Will and Pleasure, and immediately followed the Directions he received.
Q. W bo Q. Who admitted St. Paul into the Christian Cburcb?
A. After St. Paul had fafted three Days, and A&s 9.10. humbled his Soul under the Sense of those Cruel.&
c. ties he had committed against the Church of God; Ananias, a devout Man, fupposed to be one of the Seventy Disciples, and though a Christian, yet well esteemed of among the Jews, having been admonished by a Vision, went to St. Paul, and entering into the House, brought him the good News, that the same Jesus had appeared to him in the Way, had sent him to him ; and laying his Hands upon him, he received his Sight, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and was made a Member of the Church by Baptism.
Q. What Reason may be aligned for the miraculous Manner of his Conversion ?
A. That St. Paul, who was to be the Apostle of the Gentiles, might in his own Person be a remarkable Instance of the Power of God's Grace, and of his Readiness to receive the worst of Sinners upon their Repentance: He obtained Mercy 1. Tim.i. that Jesus Christ might few forth first in him all 16. Long-suffering, for a Pattern to them that should bereafter believe on bim to Life everlasting. Besides, this gave great Authority to the Apostle's Testimony; which was neceffary, considering the great Share he was to have in planting Christianity through the World. Add to this, that St. Paul appeared to have a very honest Mind, and to be influenced with a Regard only to what he thought Truth ; but being prejudiced by Education, and pushed on by the Heat of his natural Temper, was transported with furious Zeal, and that therefore God was pleased to shew Mercy to him, because what he did was 1 Tim. 1.
done ignorantly, in Unbelief; and in a miraculous Manner to convince him of the Truth of that Religion which he persecuted.
Q. How did St. Paul demonstrate the Sincerity of his Conversion ?
A. By preaching that very Jesus, whom he had AAsg. 27. persecuted; confounding the Fews who dwelt at 29. Damascus, in proving him to be the true Messias,
the Son of God'; in labouring to establish the Church which he had made Havock of, in comforting and confirming the Faithful whom he had hawled to Prison, exposing himself to those Dangers and Difficulties for the Faith, which he had endeavoured to bring upon others.
Q. Where did St. Paul bestow his Apoftolical Labours?
A. Whereas the other Apofles chose this or that Province as the main Sphere of their Ministry, St. Paul over-ran, as it were, the whole Roman Empire, seldom staying long in a Place;
from Jerusalem through Arabia, Afa, Greece, Clem. E.
round about to Illyricum, to Rome, and even to pift. ad the utmost Bounds of the Western World. The Corinth. greatest Part of his Travels are recorded in the
Aets of the Apostles; and in this Course he was discouraged by no Dangers nor Difficulties, for he frequently fuffered severe Scourgings and Imprisonments, and was brought even to the Confines of Death, both at Sea and Land ; neither was he tired out with any Troubles or Oppofitions that were raised against him ; but for the Space of five and thirty Years was indefatigable in preaching the Gospel, and in writing Epistles
for the confirming those Churches he had esta2 Tim 4. blished; thus persevering in the good Fight of 7. Faith, till be had finished his Course.
Q. Having extended his Labours to the utmost Bounds of the Western World, may we not reasonably suppose be planted a Church in this our Iland?
A. There is very good and sufficient Evidence, built on the Testimony of antient and credible Writers, with a concurrent Probability of Circumstances, That there was a Chriftian Churcb planted in Britain during the Apoftles Times. Eufebius, a learned and inquifi- Lib. 3. c. tive Person, affirms, in his third Book of Evan- 7. gelical Demonstration, That some of the Apostles Tom. . preached the Gospel in the British Islands. Theo- In Pfal. doret, another learned and judicious Histori- 116. an, expresly names the Britains among the Nations converted by the Apostles ; and says in another Place, that St. Paul brought Salvalion to the Islands that lie in the Ocean. St. Je-Hieron. is rom testifies that St. Paul, after his Imprisonments, preached the Gospel in the Western Parts. By which the British Inands were especially understood; as will appear by the following Testimony of Clemens Romanus, who faith, St. Paul preached Righteousness through the whole Epift. ad World, and in so doing went to the utmost Bounds Corinth. of the West; which necessarily includeth the British Inands, as is plain to those who know how the Phrase, the utmost Bounds of the West, was used by the Historians and Poets of those Times.
Q. Wbat probable Circumstances concur to incline us to think that St. Paul was the Person wbo planted a Christian Church in Britain ?
A. The Leisure and Opportunity he had for this Purpose ; it being about eight years between the Time of obtaining his Freedom at