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given to us in the sacred Scriptures. Though every page may be as familiar to us as the alphabet, the very fact that it is true, and certainly true, because written under the inspi. ration of God, gives an interest which it were in vain to look for, in any other narrative.
In the lives recorded in the Bible, we have real examples, which not only give us right views of the human heart, but lead us to see how necessary and how perfect is that salvation which the Lord Jesus Christ has wrought out by his death and sufferings, and of which he has given us such full assurance by his glorious resurrection from the dead. Among those whose names have found a place in the sacred record, there is none of more note than he whose history we now present. No human being has done so much by his writings and life to extend the knowledge of the Gospel, and to none are mankind more indebted for the labours he has done and the sufferings he has borne for the cause of Truth and the good of his fellow men.
It is our design to set before our readers a plain and connected history of this great man, adding to the facts recorded in scripture only
such things as will explain the truths there presented.
SAUL, (for this was his name at first), is supposed to have been born about eleven years after the birth of our Saviour. His birth-place was the city of Tarsus, then the chief city of Cilicia. It is situated near the river Cydnus, * which falls into the Mediterranean sea, about lat. 36° 53' north, lon. 34° 52' east.f It was originally called Terasso. It was once a city of note, but is now a poor little town fallen to decay.
The names of the parents of Saul are not mentioned in the Scriptures, though we learn that he was a descendant of the Patriarch Abraham, and of the tribe of Benjamin. He calls himself, " An Hebrew of the Hebrews," by which he means that he was an Israelite on both sides, by father and mother, and from one generation to another, none of his ancestors having ever married with the gentiles; so that he was purely of Jewish extraction.
Besides this, by birth Saul was a Roman citizen; that is, he had the same privileges as an actual citizen of Rome; for, according to * Now Kara-su.
+ Please refer to the map.
the custom of those days, extraordinary privileges were conferred on those who had rendered remarkable public services, and it is generally supposed that some of Saul's ancestors had been distinguished during the wars of the Roman commonwealth, and had thus received the benefit of being considered as Roman citi
This privilege was used by Saul to his advantage on a variety of occasions.
That Saul had an excellent early education there can be no question, for Tarsus was celebrated as a seat of learning. A great ancient Geographer, who lived in the same age, tells us that the inhabitants of Tarsus ex. celled even those of Athens, and Alexandria, in their attention to learning; and we know that Saul, in three different places, makes quotations from no less than three of the most distinguished Heathen authors.
As it was the custom of the natives of Tarsus, to travel to other cities to advance themselves in learning, Saul, at a pretty early age, removed to Jerusalem, where he pursued the study of the Jewish law out of the scriptures and tradi. tions, under Gamaliel, a celebrated teacher of that day. According to a very excellent practice which the Jews had, the parents of Saul completed his education by having him taught a mechanical employment, by which, in case of necessity, he might maintain himself without being a burden to his friends or the public. On this principle Saul was taught the art of tent-making.
As to the natural disposition of Saul, he appears to have been a young man of great abilities, strong passions, and wonderful resolution and decision of character. He thus may be said to have been remarkably qualified for usefulness in whatever he should undertake. Divine grace afterwards sanctified these prin. ciples, and brought them most advantageously to bear on the interests of the christian religion.
Under the teaching of Gamaliel, Saul became acquainted with all Jewish learning with the principles of his own religion ; and the most generally received interpretation of the books of the old Testament. He united himself to the sect of the Pharisees, the strictest and most orthodox sect of the Jewish church; and as he made great proficiency in his studies, so he became a most zealous and
devoted adherent to all the Mosaic institutions. Such an attachment might be greatly increased by the influence of his tutor : at least we know that he came out from under his care a rigid, bigoted Pharisee. He laid an undue stress on the observance of the Jewish ceremonies, and as he could not bear to hear that these ceremonies were to be abolished to make room for a more spiritual system, he imbibed with his early education a spirit of opposition to the Gospel. He thought, (and it seemed to be a firm conviction, that it was his duty to exert himself against the Christian faith. He tells us in his epistle to the Galatians, (i. 14,) that he was
more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of his fathers,” than many of his own nation: and in his speech before Agrippa, which is recorded in Acts xxvi. he tells us, in the ninth verse, “I verily thought with myself that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” Now some have been disposed to ask, if Saul acted sincerely and according to the dictates of his conscience, where was he to blame - This question is very easily answered. His sin consisted in his not taking proper pains to convince himself of the truth