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FOR FEBRUARY, 1824.
Art. I. Not Paul, but Jesus. By Gamaliet Smith, Esq.
8vo. 404 pp. 12s. Hunt. 1823. ART. II. A Defence of the Apostle St. Paul against the Ac
cusation of Gamaliel Smith, Esq. in a recent Publication, entitled "Not Paul, but Jesus." By the Rev. T. S. Hughes, B.D. Late Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Christian Advocate in that University, and Examining Chaplain to the Lord Bishop of Peterborough. Part I. 8vo. 120 pp.
3s. 6d. Rivingtons. 1823. Art. III. The Doctrinal Harmony of the New Testament
exemplified; by a Comparison of the Epistles of St. Paul with the Gospels, Acts, and Epistles of the other apostles. To which is added, a Letter to the Author of a Book, titled, “Not Paul, but Jesus." By Edward William Grinfield, M.A. Minister of Laura Chapel, Bath. 12mo. 120 pp.
4s. 6d. Cadell. 1824. Gamaliel Smith is understood to be the nom de guerre of Jeremy Bentham: and the work which has been ushered into the world with this mysterious anagram is worthy of the author of Church of Englandism. What can have occurred to put the old gentleman on the alert? Is the business of the constitution-monger at an end? Is codification out of fashion, and the Chrestomathic School still-born? Or are the signs of the times alarming ?. The cause of infidelity and radicalism on the decline, and some extraordinary effort required, in these days of peace and plenty, to fan the cooling embers of atheism and treason? We shall not presume to answer these. questions; but content ourselves with wishing, that in his future works against religion, Mr. Bentham may have recourse to the same obstetrical aid to which be applies in matters of politics and law. Several of his earlier productions were rendered readable and intelligible by M. Dumont. The jacobinical absurdities of the Westminster Review are varnished over by some practised pamphleteers. But in theo. logy, “ the mighty mother” toils “unaided and alone.” Her
I VOL. XXI. FEB. 1824.
reasonings are too profound to be fathomed; her slang too ridiculous to be read without laughter; her nonsense, like Irish whiskey above proof, stronger than any stomach can digest, or any brain endure. We protest against this odious monopoly. If Mr. Leigh Hunt is too busy to turn his friend's Biblical Criticism into verse, Mr. Carlile or Mr. Cobbett should be taken into pay, to shorten sentences, cut out repetitions, and soften down cant phrases. The volume now before us contains upwards of four hundred pages ; the greater part of no use to any one but the owner. To make this blasphemy a little more portable, to lend the old gentleman “lighter wings to fly,” would be a dutiful and praiseworthy task in any of his adopted children.
While they treat their venerable parent with such disrespectful neglect, reviewers can do no more than skim the cream of his lucubrations, and present it unchurned to their readers.
The sum and substance then of “ Not Paul, but Jesus," is as follows:-Its author affects to believe in Jesus Christ; to receive the Gospels as authentic histories, and to entertain the highest respect for the lessons they contain. But with the Acts of the Apostles he wages open war.
He declares St. Paul to be an impostor, the great corrupter of the religion of Jesus, the constant enemy of his faith and his followers ; never acknowledged as a brother by the other apostles, and persecuted throughout his whole career by the Christians. All this is discovered in the Acts, and deduced from them with great parade of logical accuracy. They are supposed to have been written by a partizan of St. Paul, as a vindication of bis conduct, rather than a narrative of his life; and sach is the ingenuity of Gamaliel Smith, Esq. that from this vindication itself he convicts the Apostle of treason and perjury, and wonders that the discovery escaped Newton and Locke.
Throughout the whole of these four hundred pages there is one, and only one, plausible objection. This objection is so plain that it must strike every reader; so old that it is noticed by every commentator; and so trifling that it never has pro.. duced, and never will produce, the slightest effect :-it rests upon an apparent discrepancy between Acts ix. 7, and Acts xxii. 9; in the former of which it is said, that the men which journeyed with Paul, on bis road to Damascus, stood'speechless ; hearing a voice, but seeing no man;" wbile in the latter the words are, they that were with me saw indeed the light and were afraid ; but they heard not the voice of him that spake unto me.” The most probable explanation of this difficulty turns upon the indefinite meaning of the words
translated heard and voice. And distinguished critics have supposed that the companions of the Apostle heard a voice, but could not distinguish the words of the speaker. Without inquiring into the merits of this interpretation, we would leave it to any rational sceptic to say whether it is not more probable that such an interpretation should be correct, or that some error should have crept into the manuscripts, than that the writer of the Acts of the Apostles should have made two statements, so diametrically opposite to each other. Mr. Gamaliel Smith represents that writer as a deceiver, artfully adding a forged narrative, respecting St. Paul, to the au. thentic histories of Jesus Christ. Is it possible that such a person could have overlooked the discrepancy which appears on the face of the English translation of the Bible ? Is it possible that weighty objections can exist against a volume which is reviled upon such pitiful pretences as these? So important does it appear in the eyes of the author, that the passages are printed in a table, called, with his usual felicity of phrase, "the Conversion Table;" and the binder is strictly enjoined to let it face the title page. Such a frontispiece is not unworthy of the solid contents of this work to which it introduces us.
Having satisfied himself for the reasons already mentioned, that St. Paul was not miraculously converted on his road to Damascus, our author kindly undertakes to shew why he pretended to be so. We extract this most entertaining discovery.
" CHAPTER II. Outward Conversion--how produced-how planned. Section I. Metive, Temporal Advantage-Plan. How flourishing the state of the church had at this period become, will be seen more fully in another place. Long before this period, numbers of converts, in Jerusalem alone, above three thousand. The aggregate, of the property belonging to the individuals, had been formed into one common fund: the manageinent—too great a burthen for the united labours of the eleven Apostles, with their new associate Matthias-had, under the name so inappositely re. presented at present by the English word deacon, been committed to seven trustees ; one of whom, Stephen, had, at the instance of Paul, been made to pay, with his life, for the imprudence, with which he had, in the most public manner, indulged himself, in blaspheming the idol of the Jews-their temple.
“Of that flourishing condition, Paul, under his original name of Saul, had all along been a witness. While carrying on against it that persecution, in which, if not the original instigator, he had been a most active instrument, persecuting (if he himself, in what he is made to say, in Acts xxii. 4, is to be believed)—" persecut. ing unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both mon and women ;--while thus occupied, he could not, in the course of such his disastrous employment, have failed to obtain a considerable insight into the state of their worldly affairs.
“ Samaria- the field of the exploits and renown of the great sorceror Simon, distinguished in those times by the name of MagusSamaria, the near neighbour and constant rival, not to say enemy, of Jerusalem ;-is not more than about five and forty miles distant from it. To Paul's alert and busy mind, the offer made by the sorcerer, to purchase of the Apostles a share in the government of the church, could not have been a secret.
“ At the hands of those rulers of the Christian Church, this offer had not found acceptance.
Shares in the direction of their affairs were not, like those in the government of the British Empire in these our days, objects of sale. The nine rulers would not come into any such bargain ; their disciples were not as cattle in their eyes: by those disciples themselves no such bargain would have been endured; they were not as cattle in their own eyes.
“ But though the bargain proposed by the sorcerer did not take place, this evidence, which the offer of it so clearly affords--this evidence, of the value of a situation of that sort in a commercial point of view, could not naturally either have remained a secret to Paul, or failed to engage his attention, and present to his avidity and ambition a ground of speculation-an inviting field of enterprize.
* From the time when he took that leading part, in the condemnation and execution, of the too flamingly zealous manager, of the temporal concerns of the associated disciples of that disastrous orator, by whom the preaching and spiritual functions might, with so much happier an issue, have been left in the hands of the Apostles.From that time, down to that in which we find him, with letters in his pocket, from the rulers of the Jews in their own country, to the rulers of the same nation under the government of the neighbouring state of Damascus, he continued, according to the Acts (Acts ix. 1.) 'yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord.'
“ Of these letters, the object was-the employing the influence of the authorities from which they came, viz. the high priest and the elders, to the purpose of engaging those to whom they were addressed, to enable him to bring in bonds, to Jerusalem from Damascus, all such converts to the religion of Jesus, as should have been found in the place last mentioned.
“ In his own person the author of the Acts informs us--that, by Saul, letters to this effect were desired. In a subsequent chapter, in the person of Paul, (viz, in the speech to the multitude by whom he had been dragged out of the temple, in the design of putting him to death) he informs us they were actually obtained.
“ It was in the course of this his journey, and with these letters in his pocket, that, in and by the vision seen by him while on the road ---at that time and not earlier-his conversion was, according to his own account of the matter, effected.
“ That which is thought to have been already proved, let it, at least for argument's sake, be affirmed. Let us say accordinglythis vision-story was a mere fable. On this supposition, then, what will be to be said of those same letters ?-of the views in which they were obtained ?-of the use which was eventually made of them ?-of the purpose to which they were applied ? For all these questions one solution may serve. From what is known beyond dispute-on the one hand, of his former way of life and connexions -on the other hand, of his subsequent proceeding-an answer, of the satisfactoriness of which the reader will have to judge, may, without much expense of thought, be collected.
“ If, in reality, no such vision was perceived by him, no circum. stance remains manifest whereby the change which so manifestly and notoriously took place in his plan of life, came to be referred to that point in the field of time--in preference to any antecedent
Supposing, then, the time of the change to have been antecedent to the commencement of that journey of his to Damascus. -antecedent to the time of the application, in compliance with which his letter from the ruling powers at Jerusalem, the object of which was to place at his disposal the lot of the Christians at Da. mascus, was obtained ;-this supposed, what, in the endeavour to obtain this letter, was his object? Manifestly to place in his power these same Christians: to place them in his power, and thereby to obtain from them whatsoever assistance was regarded by him as necessary for the ulterior prosecution of his schemes, as above indicated.
“On this supposition, in the event of their giving him that as. sistance, which, in the shape of money and other necessary shapes, he required-on this supposition he made known to them his determination, not only to spare their persons, but to join with them in their religion; and, by taking the lead in it among the heathen, (to whom he was, in several respects, so much better qualified for communicating it than any of the Apostles or their adherents), to promote it to the utmost of his power. An offer of this nature was it in the nature of things that it should be refused ? Whatsoever was most dear to them--their own personal security, and the sacred interests of the new religion, the zeal of which was yet flaming in their bosoms, concurred in pressing it upon their acceptance.
“ With the assistance thus obtained, the plan was—to become a declared convert to the religion of Jesus, for the purpose of setting himself at the head of it; and by means of the expertness he had acquired in the use of the Greek language, to preach, in the name of Jesus, that sort of religion, by the preaching of which, an empire over the minds of his converts, and, by that means, the power and opulence to which he aspired, might, with the fairest prospect of success, be aimed at."
P. 69. The next section is headed, “At Damascus, vo şuch, Ananias, PROBABLY;" and the third section, “ On Damas