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be restored or secured;—if, by cutting off a source of bitter animosity,—good-will, and peace from without, should be restored or secured ;—if, by the removal of an incongruous appendage, acceptance should be obtained for what is good in the religion commonly ascribed to Jesus ;-obtained at the hands of any man, much more of many, to whom at present it is an object of aversion ;-if, in any one of these several ways, much more if in all of them, the labours of the author should be crowned with success,--good service will, so far, and on all hands, be allowed to have been rendered to mankind.
Whosoever, putting aside all prepossessions, feels strong enough in mind, to look steadily at the originals, and from them to take his conceptions of the matter, not froin the discourses of others,—whosoever has this command over himself, will recognise, if the author does not much deceive himself, that by the two persons in question, as represented in the two sources of information-the Gospels and Paul's Epistles,two quite different, if not opposite, religions are inculcated: and that, in the religion of Jesus may be found all the good that has ever been the result of the compound so incongruously and unhappily made,in the religion of Paul, all the mischief, which, in such disastrous abundance, has so indisputably flowed from it.
1. That Paul had no such commission as he professed to have;—2. that his enterprize was a scheme of personal ambition, and nothing more ;-3. that his
system of doctrine is fraught with mischief in a variety of shapes, and, in so far as it departs from, or adds to, those of Jesus, with good in none;—and that it has no warrant, in any thing that, as far as appears from any of the four gospels, was ever said or done by Jesus ;—such are the conclusions, which the author of these pages has found himself compelled to deduce, from those materials with which history has furnished us. The grounds of these conclusions he proceeds to submit to the consideration of his readers.
PLAN OF THE WORK.
The work may be conceived as divided into five parts.
1. In Part the first, the five* different, and in many respects discordant, accounts given of Paul's conversion, which, in these accounts, is of course represented as being not only outward but inward, are confronted, and, so far as regards inward conversion, shown to be, all of them, untrue: and, immediately after, the state of things, which produced, accompanied, and immediately followed, his outward conversion,--together with the time and manner in which that change was declared,—is brought to view. This part occupies the first two chapters.
2. Part the Second is employed in showing, -that, from the first commencement of theintercourse, which, upon the tokens given of his outward conversion, took place at Jerusalemn between him and the apostlest, to the time when,-in consequence of the interposition of the Roman commander, to save him from the unanimous indignation of the whole people, more particularly of the disciples of the apostles, -he was conveyed
ft In the hope of affording some satisfaction to the reader,
these references are here inserted. The author is indebted for them to a friend ; but, not having himself examined them, he is not to be regarded as personally responsible for them, in respect of appositeness, correctness, or completeness.
1. Acts ix. ver. 1 to 18. 2. Acts xxii. ver. 3 to 16. 3. Acts xxvi. ver. 9 10 20. 4. Gal. i. ver. 11 to 17. 5. I Cor.
But now as to this, see Table 1. + Acts ix. 27.
from thence under guard to Rome, (a space, according to the commonly received computation, not less than six-and-twenty years *,) no supernatural comınission from Jesus, nor anyinward conversion, was,-either by those distinguished servants and companions of Jesus, or by their disciples at Jerusalem,-believed to have place in his instance. This part occupies eight chapters: to wit, from the 3d to the 10th inclusive.
3. In Part the Third, in further proof of the insincerity of his character,—in addition to an oath proved to be false, are brought to view two unquestionably false assertions :-each having for its subject a matter of prime importance,-each deliberate, and having in view a particular purpose: the one, a false account of the number of the witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus t; the other, a prediction of the end of the world before the death of persons then living. This part occupies chapters 11 and 12.
4. Part the Fourth is employed in showing, -that no proof, of his alleged supernatural commission froin the Almighty, is deducible, from any account we have, of any of those scenes, in which he is commonly regarded as having exercised a power of working miracles. For, that not only he himself never made exercise of any such power,-on any of those occasions, on which the demand for it, for the
purpose of overcoming the disbelief entertained of his story by the Apostles, was extreme,-but, neither on those, nor any other occasions, did he ever take upon himself to make reference, to so much as any one instance of any such proof of special authority from the Almighty, as having been exhibited by him on any other occasion: that, for the belief in any such gift, we have no other ground, than the relations contained in the history
called “ The Acts of the Apostles," or, for shortness, The Acts: and that such throughout is,-on the one hand, the nature of the occurrence itself, on the other hand, the character of the representation given of it, —that, to a disbelief in the exercise of any such supernatural power, it is not necessary that any such imputation as that of downright and wilful falsehood should be cast upon the author of that narrative: the occurrences in question being, mostly, if not entirely, such as lie within the ordinary course of nature,—but, upon which, either by the fancy, or by the artifice of the narrator, a sort of supernatural colouring has been superinduced. For this purpose, these supposed miracles are, each of them, separately brought to view and examined. This part occupies the 13th chapter.
5. Part the Fifth is employed in showing, that,even if, on all these several occasions, the exercise of a power of producing supernatural effects had, by unequivocal statements, been ascribed to Paul by the author of the Acts,--such testimony, independently of the virtual contradiction given to it by the abovementioned circumstantial evidence,—could not, with any propriety, be regarded as affording adequate proof -either of the fact of Paul's having received a divine commission, and thereby, having become, inwardly as well as outwardly, a convert to the religion of Jesus either of that radical fact, or so much as of any one of the alleged achievements, which, upon the face of the accounts in question, are wont to present themselves as miraculous: for that, in the first place, it is only by error that the history in question has been ascribed to Saint Luke: it being, in respect of the account given of the circumstances accompanying the ascension of Jesus, inconsistent with the account given in the gospel of Saint Luke*, -and as to those attend
* Luke xxiv, compared with Acts i. 3 to 12.