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Title: Critical Examination of the Life of St. Paul
Author: Annet, Peter, 1693-1769
Language: English
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CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE LIFE OF ST. PAUL

By Boulanger

Translated From The French Of Boulanger

"Paul, thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad."

Acts, chap. 26, ver. 24.

1823

INTRODUCTION.

EPISTLE DEDICATORY TO M. L. N.

Sir, In our last conversation you appeared to me, very much smitten with
St. Paul and his works; you recommended me to reperuse his writings;
assuring me that I should there find arguments well calculated to shake
incredulity and confirm a Christian in his faith.

Although the actions of this celebrated Apostle, related in the Acts,
and his doctrine contained in his Epistles, were already perfectly known
to me, yet to conform myself to your desires, and give you proofs of
my docility, I have again read those works, and I can assure you that
I have done it with the greatest attention. You will judge of that
yourself, by the reflections I send you; they will at least prove to you
that I have read with attention. A superficial glance is only likely to
deceive us or leave us in error. The passions and the prejudices of men
prevent them from examining with candour, and from their indolence they
are often disgusted with the researches necessary for discovering truth;
that has also been with so much care veiled from their eyes: but it is
in vain to cover it, its splendour will sooner or later shine forth;
the works of enthusiasm or imposture, will always end by betraying
themselves. As for the rest, read and judge. You will find, I think, at
least, some reasons for abating a little from that high opinion, that
prejudice gives us of the Apostle of the Gentiles, and of the religious
system of the Christians, of which St. Paul was evidently the true
architect. I am not ignorant that it is very difficult to undo at
one blow the ideas to which the mind has been so long accustomed;
but whatever may be your judgment it will not alter the sentiments of
friendship and attachment which are due to the goodness of your heart.

I am, &c, &c.



CRITICAL EXAMINATION OF THE LIFE OF ST. PAUL



CHAPTER I. Is the Conversion of St. Paul a proof in favour of the
Christian Religion?

Many theologians would make us regard the miraculous conversion and
apostleship of St. Paul as one of the strongest proofs of the truth of
Christianity. But in viewing the thing closely it appears that this
conversion, far from proving any thing in favour of this religion,
invalidates the other proofs of it, in fact, our doctors continually
assure us that the Christian religion draws its strongest proofs from
the prophecies of the Old Testament, whilst there is not in fact a
single one of these prophecies that can be literally applied to the
Messiah of the Christians. St. Paul himself willing to make use of these
oracles of the Jewish nation to prove the mission of Christ, is obliged
to distort them, and to seek in them a mystical, allegorical, and
figurative sense. On the other side, how can these prophecies made by
Jews and addressed to Jews, serve as proofs of the doctrine of St.
Paul, who had evidently formed the design of altering, or even of
destroying, the Jewish religion, in order to raise a new system on its
ruins? Such being the state of things, what real connection, or what
relation, can there be between the religious system of the Jews, and
that of St. Paul? For this Apostle to have had the right of making use of
the Jewish prophecies, it would have been necessary that he should have
remained a Jew; his conversion to Christianity evidently deprived him of
the privilege of serving himself, by having recourse to the prophecies
belonging to a religion that he had just abandoned, and the ruin of
which he meditated. True prophecies can only be found in a divine
religion, and a religion truly divine, can neither be altered, reformed,
nor destroyed: God himself, if he is immutable, could not change it.

In fact, might not the Jews have said to St. Paul, "Apostate that you
are! you believe in our prophecies, and you come to destroy the religion
founded upon the same prophecies. If you believe in our oracles, you
are forced to believe that the religion which you have quitted is a true
religion and divinely inspired. If you say, that God has changed his
mind, you are impious in pretending that God could change, and was not
sufficiently wise, to give at once to his people a perfect worship, and
one which had no need of being reformed. On the other side, do not the
reiterated promises of the Most High, confirmed by paths to our fathers,
assure us, that his alliance with us should endure eternally? You are
then an impostor, and, according to our law, we ought to exterminate
you; seeing that Moses, our divine legislator, orders us to put to
death, whoever shall have the temerity to preach to us a new worship,
even though he should confirm his mission by prodigies. The God that you
preach is not the God of our fathers: you say that Christ is his son;
but we know that God has no son. You pretend that this son, whom we have
put to death as a false prophet, has risen from the dead, but Moses has
not spoken of the resurrection; thus your new God and your dogmas
are contrary to our law, and consequently we ought to hold them in
abhorrence." In short these same Jews might have said to St. Paul: "You
deceive yourself in saying, that you are the disciple of Jesus, your
Jesus was a Jew, during the whole of his life he was circumcised, he
conformed himself to all the legal ordinances; he often protested
that he came to accomplish, and not to abolish the law; whilst you in
contempt of the protestations of the Master, whose Apostle you say you
are, take the liberty of changing this holy law, of decrying it, of
dispensing with its most essential ordinances."

Moreover the conversion of St. Paul strangely weakens the proof that
the Christian religion draws from the miracles of Jesus Christ and his
Apostles. According to the evangelists themselves the Jews were not
at all convinced by these miracles. The transcendant prodigy of the
resurrection of Christ, the wonders since wrought by some of his
adherents did not contribute more to their conversion. St. Paul believed
nothing of them at first, he was a zealous persecutor of the first
Christians to such a degree, that, according to the Christians, nothing
short of a new miracle, performed for him alone, was able to convert
him; which proves to us that there was, at least, a time when St. Paul
did not give any credit to the wonders that the partisans of Jesus
related at Jerusalem.

He needed a particular miracle to believe in those miracles, that we
are obliged to believe in at the time in which we live, without heaven
operating any new prodigy to demonstrate to us the truth of them.



CHAPTER II. Opinions of the first Christians upon the Acts of the
Apostles, and upon the Epistles and Person of St. Paul.

It is in the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of St. Paul, that
we find the details of his life and the system of his doctrine; but, how
can we be certain of the authenticity of these works, whilst we see many
of the first Christians doubt and reject them as apocryphal? We find,
in fact, that from the earliest period of the church, entire sects of
Christians, who believed that many of the Epistles published under
the name of this Apostle, were not really his. The Marcionites were
confident that the gospels were filled with falshoods, and Marcion,
their head, pretended that his gospel was the only true one.

The Manicheans, who formed a very numerous sect at the commencement of
Christianity, rejected as false, all the New Testament, and produced
other writings, quite different, which they gave as authentic. The
Corinthians, as well as the Marcionites, did not admit the Acts of the
Apostles. The Encratites and the Severians did not adopt either the Acts
or the Epistles of St. Paul. St. John Chrysostom in a homily, which he
has made upon the Acts, says, that in his time (that is to say, towards
the end of the fourth century) many men were ignorant not only of the
name of the author, or of the collector of these Acts, but even did
not know this work. The Valentinians, as well as many other sects
of Christians accused our scriptures of being filled with errors,
imperfections, and contradictions, and of being insufficient without the
assistance of traditions; this is a fact that is attested to us by St.
Irenæus. The Ebionites or Nazarenes, who, as we shall soon see, were the
first Christians, rejected all the Epistles of St. Paul, and regarded
him as an impostor and hypocrite.

It will not fail being said to us, that we ought not to rely on
the testimony of heretics; but I shall reply, that in the matter in
question, their testimony is of the same weight as that of the orthodox,
seeing that all the different sects consider themselves as orthodox,
and have treated their adversaries as heretics. How shall we unravel the
truth if we do not hear both parties? By what signs shall we know those
on whom we ought to rely? Shall we cede the cause without examining their
adversaries, to writers who utter to us falshoods without number, who
contradict each other, who are never agreed amongst themselves, and
whose discordant writings are nevertheless produced as proofs of what
they advance? In any other subject such a conduct would seem to betray a
partiality or even insincerity: but in religious matters, every thing is
fair, and there is no necessity of being so nice.

However that may be, it does not follow that because one sect has
received or rejected a work, that the work itself is either true or
false; there cannot be otherwise than, a diversity of opinions between
persons of different parties; their testimony ought to have equal
weight, until the partisans of one sect, have been convicted of being
greater cheats and liars, than those of the other. If we pay no regard
to the authority of heretics, it is because they have not had sufficient
power to enforce their opinions. It is power or weakness which makes
orthodoxians or heretics: the last are always those who have not power
enough to make their opinions current.

What course shall we then pursue to discover on which side is the truth?
An impartial man will no more expect to find it in one party than in
another, thus the testimony of the one can have no greater weight than
that of the other in the eye of an unprejudiced man.

This granted, we cannot rely on the authority of Christian traditions
which vary in all sects, and we shall be reduced to recur solely
to reason, especially when we find that the works, which are to-day
regarded as authentic, have in other times been considered as
suppositious, or apocryphal, by some very ancient sects of Christians,
and that the works and writings, then regarded as apocryphal, have since
been adopted as true.

It appears that in the ancient churches, they read at once the works
that we now regard as true, and those that now-pass for suppositious,
in such sort, that there is reason to believe they were then held to
possess equal claim to authenticity: it is, at least, very, difficult
to demonstrate the contrary in the present time. Some churches have
attributed the same authority to false or doubtful writings as to true.

The Roman Church to-day adopts as authentic and divinely inspired many
books of the Bible, absolutely rejected by the Protestants. How is it
possible to decide which is the party that deceives itself?

By what right can we then affirm to-day that the works of St. Paul,
formerly rejected by so many Christian sects, are authentic, that is
to say, truly belong to this Apostle? On the other hand, how can we
attribute to divine inspiration writings filled with inconsistencies,
contradictions, mistakes, and false reasonings, in a word, which bear
every character of delirium, of ignorance, and of fraud? I acknowledge
that those who want valid proofs, always do right to affirm the thing,
with the tone of authority; but this tone proves nothing, and always
prejudices against those who take it. Nothing is more injurious to the
interest of truth, than the arrogance of an usurped authority. These
are, however, the arms that are incessantly opposed to those who doubt
of religion. It would seem that its defenders have no other arguments
than their pretences; it is easy to feel that these arguments are every
thing, but convincing.

The Acts of the Apostles, adopted by the Ebionites or Nazarenes, relate
amongst other things, that, "Paul was originally a Pagan, that he
came to Jerusalem where he dwelt for some time; that being desirous of
marrying the daughter of the High Priest he became a proselyte, and
was circumcised; but not being able to obtain the woman he desired,
he quarrelled with the Jews, began to write against the circumcision,
against the observation of the Sabbath, and against legal ordinances."

We know that the name of Nazarenes was the first which was given to the
Christians. St. Epiphanius, from whom the preceding passage is taken,
says, "that they were thus named because of Jesus of Nazareth," of whom
they were the first disciples. The Jews called them Nazarenes from the
Hebrew word Nozerim, which signifies one separated or excommunicated;
again they designated them under the name of Mineans, that is to say,
heretics. They were also by contempt called Ebionites, which signifies
poor, mendicant, weak-minded. In fact, the Hebrew Ebion, means poor,
miserable, and we know, that the first followers of Christ, were every
thing but opulent or intelligent men.

The first faithful, were Jews converted by Jesus himself, or by the most
ancient Apostles, such as Peter, James, and John, who as well as their
master, lived in Judaism. These Apostles, disciples, and new converts,
differed from the Jews in nothing but the belief in Jesus Christ, whom
they regarded as the Messiah predicted by the prophets; otherwise
they believed themselves bound constantly to observe the Mosaic law,
persuaded that their Messiah was come to accomplish and not to destroy
this law. In consequence of this, they observed circumcision, the
abstinence from certain meats, separation from the Gentiles, in a word,
the Jewish rites and ordinances.

Thus the first Apostles, and their adherents, were only Jews, persuaded
that the Messiah was already come, and was going soon to commence his
reign, which made them hated and persecuted as schismatics or heretics
by their fellow-citizens. St. Jerome informs us, "that even down to his
time, the Jews used to anathematize the Christians, under the name of
Nazarenes, three times a day in their synagogues."

All this evidently proves, that the Nazarenes, of Ebionites, were the
first Christians, taught by the most considerable of the Apostles, and
that the first Christians were only reformed Jews; this is clearly the
only idea we can form of Christianity, such as it was taught by Jesus
Christ himself.

How then comes it that since Jesus, Christianity has been so separated
from Judaism? a slight attention will prove to us that this is owing to
St. Paul. Repulsed by the Jews, or perhaps desirous of playing a
more important part, we see him separate himself from his brethren of
Jerusalem, and undertake the conversion of the Gentiles, for whom
the Jews entertained no sentiment but horror. Encouraged by his first
successes and wishing to extend them, he dispensed the Pagans from the
painful ceremony of circumcision; he declared that the law of Moses, was
only a law of servitude, from which Jesus was come to free mankind; he
pretended that all the old law was merely the emblem and figure of the
new; he announced himself as the Apostle of the Gentiles, and leaving
Peter and the other Nazarenes to preach the gospel of circumcision,
he preached his own gospel, which he himself called the gospel of
uncircumcision: in a word, he made a divorce with the Jewish laws, to
which his apostolic brethren believed they ought to hold themselves
attached, at least, in most respects.

The conduct of Paul, must naturally have displeased his seniors in the
Apostleship, but fear appears to have deter mined them to cede, at least
for a time, to our missionary who had already made a considerable party.
Nevertheless the Acts of the Apostles and the writings of Paul, prove to
us his quarrels with his brethren, who, according to appearances, never
viewed with a friendly eye, his enterprizes and innovations. Moreover,
Eusebius and St. Epiphanius inform us, that our Apostle was regarded as
an apostate, an impostor, and an enemy by the Ebionites, that is to say,
by the first faithful. But St. Paul's party having in the end prevailed,
the Jewish law was entirely banished from Christianity, and the
Ebionites, or Nazarenes, though of more ancient date and though formed
by Christ and his first apostles were declared heretics.

It is proper to remark in this place that these Ebionites, or first
Christians, believed that Jesus was but a man, as much on the side of
his father as on that of his mother, that is to say, the son of Joseph
and Mary; but that he was a wise, just, and excellent person, thus
meriting the appellation of the son of God, because of his holy life and
good qualities whence we see that the first Christians were as well as
the first Apostles, true Socinians. But St. Paul to give, without doubt,
more lustre to his ministry, and his adherents after him, willing to
extol the holiness of their religion, made a God of Jesus, a dogma which
it is no more permitted to doubt, especially since the partizans of Paul
have become more numerous, and stronger than those of St. Peter and the
other Nazarenes, or Jewish founders of primitive Christianity, which
thus totally changed its face as to its capital dogmas.

Having thus become masters of the field of battle, Paul, his adherents,
and the disciples formed in their school, saw themselves in possession
of the power of regulating belief, of inventing new dogmas, of making
gospels, and of arranging them in their own manner, of forging to
themselves titles, and of excommunicating as heretics all those who
showed themselves unteachable. It is thus that the author of the Acts of
the Apostles, only speaks, as it were, of his master, of St. Paul, and
glances very slightly over the Acts of the Apostles of the contrary
party. The same author (St. Luke) is presumed to have composed his
gospel from the notes furnished him by St. Paul, though he had neither
known nor seen Jesus Christ.

Faustus, the Manichean, said on the subject of the gospels, "that
they had been composed a long time after the Apostles, by some obscure
individuals, who fearing that faith would not be given to histories of
facts with which they must have been unacquainted, published under the
name of the Apostles their own writings, so filled with mistakes and
discordant relations and opinions, that we can find in them neither
connection nor agreement with themselves."

A little further on he loudly accuses his adversaries, who had
the credit of being orthodox, and says to them, "It is thus that
predecessors have inserted in the writings of our Lord many things
which, though they bear his name, do not # at all agree with his
doctrine. That is not surprising since we have often proved that these
things have not been written by himself nor by his Apostles, but that
for the greater part they are founded on tales, on vague reports,
and collected by I know not who, half Jews, but little agreed among
themselves, who have nevertheless published them under the name of our
Lord, and thus have attributed to him their own errors and deceptions."

Origeo informs us, that Celsus exclaimed against the licence that the
Christians of his time, had taken of altering many times imprudently the
originals of their gospels, in order to be able to deny or to retract
those things, which embarrassed them.



CHAPTER III. Of the Authority of the Councils, of the Fathers of the
Church, and of Tradition

It is only in the Fathers of the Church, and the Councils, that we can
find the proofs of the authenticity of the Christian traditions, and
according to the proofs which remain it appears, that they only approved
or rejected opinions, as they found them favourable or injurious to the
interests of the party which they had embraced. Every ecclesiastical
writer, and every assembly of Bishops, adopted as canonical the writings
in which they found their own particular dogmas, the others they treated
as apocryphal or suppositious. A slight acquaintance with the writings
of the Fathers, will show us that we cannot rely on them for any facts;
we shall find that their books are filled with negligences, tales,
impertinences and falsehoods; we shall see them buried in the thickest
darkness of superstition and prejudice. Every word announces their
incredulity or their insincerity. St. Clement the Roman, believed the
fable of the phoenix reviving from its ashes, and cites it as a proof of
the resurrection.

Papias, who was the master of St. Irenæus, was, in the opinion of
Eusebius himself, a man of weak mind, a fabulous author, who had
contributed to lead many men into error, and amongst others St. Irenæus
who was his disciple, whom Eusebius regards as a very credulous man,
though he was the first ecclesiastical historian of note. It is not
surprising that those who have followed such guides have fallen into
error.

On the other side, we should never finish, were we to enter into a
detail of the excesses committed by the Fathers of the Church and the
Councils: their history would only serve to prove their ambition their
pride, their infatuation, their seditious spirit, their cheats, their
intrigues, and their cruelties in the persecutions which they excited
against their adversaries. It is nevertheless on the probity and on the
knowledge of these great personages that we are called to rely! It is
pretended that it is from them that we hold the pure oracles of truth;
must we then take lessons of mildness, of charity, of, holiness,
from the writings of some factious individuals, who were perpetually
quarrelling and treating their adversaries with the utmost cruelty,
whose works were filled with gall, whose conduct it is admitted even by
their own friends and admirers, was almost always unjust, violent, and
criminal? How can it be expected that we should find any point of unity
in the canons and decrees of assemblies agitated by intrigue, discord,
and animosity? How can we regard as saints, and infallible doctors, as
persons worthy of our confidence, perverse men, continually involved in
disputations with others, and in contradictions with themselves?
What guide can we expect to find in turbulent priests whose ambition,
avarice, and intriguing and persecuting spirit are every where visible?
It is only necessary to read ecclesiastical history to be convinced that
the picture which we have drawn of the Councils and Fathers is no ways
exaggerated.

On the other hand the writers and Councils on whose authority,
Christians are called upon to found their belief, do, in all their
traditions, but blindly follow and copy each other; we see them devoid
of the arts of reasoning, of logic, and of criticism; hence their
works are found filled with fables, vulgar errors, and forgeries. Is it
possible to believe the traditions of such a man as St. Jerome, who in
his life of St. Anthony, assures us that this holy man had a conference
with satyrs with goats feet? Do we not justly doubt the sincerity of St.
Augustine, when he says, "that he had seen a nation composed of men,
who had eyes in the middle of their stomachs?" Are such authors more
entitled to credit, than those of Robinson Crusoe, and of the Thousand
and One Nights?

Supposing even that at the commencement of Christianity, there had been
authentic books in which the actions and the discourses of Jesus Christ
and his Apostles had been faithfully related, should we be justified
in supposing that they have been handed down to us such as they were
originally? Prior to the invention of printing, it was doubtless much
easier to impose upon the public than it is now, and notwithstanding, we
see that the _Press_ gives currency to innumerable falsehoods.

The spirit of party causes every thing to be adopted that is useful
to its own cause. That granted, how easy was it for the heads of the
Church, who were once the only guardians of the holy books, either from
pious fraud, or a determined wish to deceive, to insert falsehoods and
articles of faith, in the books entrusted to their care.

The learned Dodwell admits, that the books which compose the New
Testament did not appear in public, until at least 100 Years after
Christ. If this fact be certain, how shall we convince ourselves that
they existed prior to this time? These books were solely entrusted to
the care of the ecclesiastical gentry, till the third or fourth
century, that is to say, to the guardianship of men, whose conduct
was universally regulated by self interest and party spirit, and who
possessed neither the probity nor knowledge requisite for discovering
the truth, or of transmitting it in its original purity. Thus each
doctor had the power of making such holy books as he pleased, and
when, under Constantine, the Christians saw themselves supported by the
Emperor, their chiefs were able to accept, and cause to be accepted as
authentic, and of rejecting as apocryphal, such books as suited their
interest, or did not agree with the prevailing doctrine. But were we
even sure of the authenticity of the books, which the church of this
day adopts, we are nevertheless, without any other guarantee of the
authority of the scriptures than the books themselves. Is there a
history which has the right to prove itself by itself? Can we rely upon
witnesses who give no other proof of what they advance than their own
words? Yet the first Christians have rendered themselves famous by their
deceptions, their factions, and their frauds, which are termed pious
when they tend to the advantage of religion. Have not these pious
falsehoods been ascribed to the works of Jesus Christ himself and to the
Apostles his successors? Have we not, in their manner, sybilline verses,
which are evidently all Christian prophecies, made afterwards, and often
copied word for word into the Old and New Testament? If it had pleased
the Fathers at the council of Nice, to regard these prophecies as
divinely inspired, what or who should have prevented them from inserting
them into the canon of the Scriptures? And from that the Christians
would not have failed to regard them in the present day, as indubitable
proofs of the truth of their religion.

If the Christians at the commencement of Christianity, gave credit to
works filled with reveries, such as the Shepherd of Hermas, the Gospel
of the Infancy, the Letter of Jesus Christ to Algarus, what confidence
can we have in such of their books as remain? Can we flatter ourselves,
with having even these such as they were originally written? How can we
at the present time, distinguish the true from the false, in books, in
which enthusiasm, roguery and credulity pervade every page.

Since the gospels themselves fail in the proofs necessary to establish
their authenticity, and the truth of the facts which they relate, I
do not see that the epistles of St. Paul, or the Acts of the Apostles,
enjoy in this respect a greater advantage. If the first Christians had
no difficulty in attributing works to Jesus, would they have been over
scrupulous, in doing the same to his apostles, or in making for
them romantic legends, which length of time has caused to pass for
respectable books? If a body of powerful men, had it in their power to
command the credulity of the people, and found it their interest, they
would succeed, at the end of a few centuries, in establishing the belief
that the adventures of Don Quixote were perfectly true, and that the
prophecies of Nostradamus were inspirations of the divinity. By means of
glossaries, commentaries and allegories, we may find and prove whatever
we desire; however glaring an imposture may be, it may, by the aid of
time, deception, and force, pass in the end for a truth, which it is not
permitted to doubt; Determined cheats supported by public authority
may cause ignorance, which is always credulous to believe whatever
they choose, especially by persuading it that there is merit in not
perceiving inconsistencies, contradictions, and palpable absurdities,
and that there is danger in reasoning.



CHAPTER IV. Life of St. Paul, according to the Acts of the Apostles

I have thus far shewn that nothing was more destitute of proof than the
authenticity of the books which contain the life and writings of St.
Paul. I have shewn that the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles of
St. Paul, were rejected by some Christian sects which subsisted from the
earliest times of the church. It must have been seen that the opinion
of the authenticity of these books was founded solely on traditions, to
which it is very difficult to give credit, considering the characters of
those by whom these traditions have been transmitted, it is however upon
such suspicious guarantees, that the authority of these works has been
pretended to be established; it will then be necessary to admit them
at once and without examination, or else recur to reason in order to
examine for ourselves, what we ought to think concerning them.

To form our ideas of St. Paul, let us then consult only these works,
however suspected their origin may appear to us, which contain the
detail of his life; there are no others to which we can have recourse.

The author of the Acts of the Apostles, whoever he be, relates the
miraculous conversion of Saul, afterwards called Paul, in the ninth
chapter. We find him already named in the two preceding chapters, first
as approving of the death of St. Stephen, the first martyr for the
Christian religion, and next as persecuting and desolating the church.
Not contented with tormenting the Christians of Jerusalem, he furnished
himself with letters from the High Priest which authorised him to seize
those whom he might find at Damascus; but, while on the road a miracle
caused him to change all his projects; he is suddenly surrounded by a
divine light, without seeing any one, he hears the voice of Jesus of
Nazareth, who demands of him the motives of his persecutions. Saul
trembling enquired what conduct he ought to pursue. Jesus tells him,
that at Damascus he would be informed of his intentions. Our persecutor
on this occasion is struck blind, but his heart is converted, and
sight is miraculously restored to him by a Christian of Damascus named
Ananias, who had been, by a particular revelation informed of his
hostile designs against the church, and of the great designs of God,
who, of this persecutor, would form a vessel of election, that is to
say the Apostle of the Gentiles.

Soon after this conversion and cure, Saul is baptized and commences
preaching Christ in the synagogues, confounding the Jews to such a
degree that they came to the resolution to take away his life. But the
new missionary deceived their vigilance by saving himself during the
night by means of a basket, in which he was lowered, and made his escape
from Damascus. He returned to Jerusalem where the disciples of Jesus
were thrown into consternation at his appearance; but Barnabas presented
him to the Apostles, informed them of his conversion, and enrolled him
to their college. In consequence he preached the Gospel; this conduct
soon raised troubles and persecutions against him on the part of the
Jews, who again formed the design of putting him to death. But he found
means of escaping from their fury by the assistance of some disciples
who conducted him to Cesarea, whence they afterward sent him to Tarsus.
Barnabas came and joined Saul in the latter city, whence he led him to
Antioch. Here Saul and Barnabas remained during a year, they there made
a great number of converts; it was there that the proselytes first took
the name of Christians. To warm the zeal of the new converts, they sent
for prophets from Jerusalem, one of these named Agabus predicted a great
famine, which determined the disciples of Antioch to distribute alms
to their brethren of Judea; Saul and Barnabas were the bearers of these
marks of generosity, and the Apostles, whom the first faithful made
the depositaries of their riches, knew, without doubt, the price of the
acquisition that the sect had made in the person of the new missionary*.

     * Acts of Apostles, chap. 12.



CHAPTER V. St. Paul styles himself the Apostle of the Gentiles--Causes
of his Success.

All proves to us that Paul and his associate Barnabas found it much
easier to convert the Gentiles than the Jews, who showed themselves
almost always rebels to their lessons. The docility of the first, and
indocility of the latter may be traced to very natural causes; the
idolators were destitute of instruction, their priests, content with
exacting from them their offerings and sacrifices, never thought of
instructing them in their religion; thus our missionaries encountered
few obstacles in persuading them of the truth of the novelties which
they came to announce to them. It was not thus with the Jews, who had
a law, to which they were very strongly attached, since they were
convinced that it had been dictated by God himself. In consequence our
preach-. ers could not make themselves listened to, but, in proportion,
as the doctrine they preached agreed with the notions with which the
Jews were previously imbued. The Apostles were therefore compelled to
reason with the Jews, according to their own system, to shew them that
the Christ whom they announced was the Messiah which they expected from
their own prophets; in a word, in preaching the Gospel to the Jews, the
preachers were driven into embarrassing discussions, and perpetually
exposed to cavils and contradictions which they had no fear of on the
part of the Gentiles, who received without disputing the novelties which
they broached to them, and which besides agreed well enough with the
notions of the pagan mythology, as we have shewn in another work.

On the other side also, the idolators had not the exclusive ideas of
religion peculiar to the Jews; they were tolerant, they admitted every
species of worship, and were disposed to pay homage to every God that
was proposed to them. The Hebrews were not of this disposition, they
believed themselves alone in the possession of the knowledge of the true
God, and rejected with horror strange Gods and worships.

These reflections are sufficient to explain to us the reason of the
great success that the Apostles had in preaching to the Gentiles,
compared with their endeavours amongst the Jews; they likewise show us
especially the true motives of Paul's conduct. In fact, repulsed by
the cavils and opposition of the Jews, we see Paul and Barnabas turn
themselves to the side of the Pagans, who listened to them with more
attention and declared to the Jews, that God had forsaken them*.

     * Acts of Apostles, chap. xiii. ver. 45, &c,

The Gentiles were apparently flattered by the preference; numbers of
them adopted the religion announced to them, which did not hinder the
Jews from exciting, against our missionaries, the zeal of the female
devotees whose clamour obliged them to quit Antioch.

From thence our two associates, after having shook the dust of their
feet against their opposers, repaired to Iconium, where they again met
with opposition on the part of the Jews who even irritated the Gentiles
against them, which compelled them to fly to Lystra in Lycaonia. There
according to the Acts of the Apostles, Paul thought it necessary to
perform a miracle, well knowing that nothing is more efficacious than a
prodigy in making an impression on the minds of the vulgar.

He then cured a lame man. This miracle convinced the idolators, who took
Paul and his comrade for Gods, and under this idea would have offered
them sacrifices. However this wonder did not produce the same effect
upon the Jews; these apparently regarded it as a deception, or some
trick of which they were not the dupes. In fact we see that the Jews,
who nevertheless yielded to no people in credulity, so far from being
moved by Paul's miracle, that they stoned him as a malefactor and left
him for dead. From this unlucky affair he however extricated himself and
returned to Antioch, whence he set out in order to give an account of
the success of his mission, from which it appears that he had no reason
for self congratulation, since, if he made a number of recruits for
Jesus, he had succeeded at the expence of much personal ill usage.

Nevertheless the Nazarenes, or Ebionites, i. e. the first of the Jews,
who had embraced the doctrine of the Apostles, were persuaded that the
religion of Christ was merely a reformed Judaism. Always attached to
the practices of the Mosaic law, they believed themselves called upon to
evince their zeal in its favour; in consequence of which they pretended
that the Gentiles, converted by the Apostles, ought, like themselves,
to submit to the rite of circumcision. But Paul and Barnabas strongly
opposed this opinion*; they were well aware that so painful an
operation, especially after a certain age, would be very likely to
dishearten the heathen whom they had drawn to their sect. But as
the affair appeared very important they referred the decision to the
Apostles who remained at Jerusalem. In consequence Paul and Barnabas,
and also the partisans of circumcision, repaired, thither, each with the
view of maintaining their own opinion. The question was argued, and our
two missionaries convinced the Apostolic College of the necessity of
freeing the Gentiles from a rite at which they revolted. Thus, according
to the author of the Acts of the Apostles, (who appears to have been
devoted to St. Paul's party) it was decided, that the newly converted
Gentiles should be exempted from a ceremony which, until now, had been
regarded as highly essential, since it had been ordained by the Divinity
himself.

     * See Acts of Apostles, chap. xv. ver. 5; see also in the
     second chapter, of this work what is said of the Nazarenes.

There is reason to believe that the old Apostles did not subscribe
without great reluctance to a decision which seemed to annul one of the
capital points of the Mosaic law, and had the appearance of rectifying
the ordinances, of the Most High. Jesus himself in his infancy underwent
the ceremony of circumcision; during his life he practised the customs
prescribed to his nation; he formerly declared that he was come, not to
destroy, but to accomplish the law of the Jews; and nevertheless we see
St. Paul and his adherents, of their own authority, annul at one blow a
ceremony of divine institution, approved of and observed by their master
and that for political and worldly considerations, which saints ought
never to regard.

However this may be, by this decision, which Paul extorted from the
Apostles, it seemed from that time to give the signal of the schism,
which in the end totally separated the Jews from the Christians.
Nevertheless we shall soon see Paul, who on this occasion took in
hand the cause of the Gentiles, prepare (resuming the old errors) and
circumcise a disciple himself. So true it is, that the greatest saints
are not always consistent in their opinions, nor uniform in their
conduct.

The Apostles having shewn so much indulgence in the article of the
circumcision of the Gentiles, were, however desirous of giving a kind of
satisfaction to the partisans of Judaism; with this view they prohibited
the new converts from worshipping idols, from giving themselves up to
fornication; and ordered them to abstain from things strangled and from
the blood of animals. By these means they sought to conciliate every
one; the Gentiles were not circumcised, and submitted themselves, in
part, to the ordinances of the Jews, who thus saw a deference always
paid to the law of their fathers, to which they were ever strongly
attached *.

     * See Acts of Apostles, chap. xv. All seems to prove that
     the Apostles soon repented of the weakness they had been
     guilty of in ceding to St. Paul, for we find he formed a
     separate party, who preached the Gospel in his own manner,
     that is to say, the Gospel of the uncircumcision.

Furnished with this decision of the council of Jerusalem, in which the
Apostles declare themselves authorised by the Holy Spirit, Paul and
Barnabas returned to Antioch, whence they were desirous of visiting
the towns where they had already preached; but a contest respecting the
choice of an associate of their labours, made a breach between our two
missionaries and caused a separation between them. Barnabas accompanied
by Mark embarked for the Isle of Cyprus, whilst Paul with Silas, his new
companion, traversed Syria and Cilicia to confirm in the faith those who
had been recently converted *.

     * It ought here to be remarked, that there exists yet a
     Gospel of the Nazarenes, the honour of which has been
     decreed to St. Barnabas, and in which Paul is roughly
     handled. In fact this Apostle preached, as we have shewn,
     besides uncircumcision, a doctrine very different from that
     of the Nazarenes, Ebionites, or first Christians, who,
     according to St. Irenæus, St. Epiphanius, and Eusebius,
     regarded Jesus merely as a man, the son of Joseph and Mary,
     and who was called the Son of God, only on account of his
     virtues. This may enable us to guess at the cause of Paul's
     quarrel with Barnabas, whose Gospel insinuates that Paul was
     in error in teaching that Jesus was God.



CHAPTER VI. Paul preaches in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Greece

Upon his arrival at Lystra, St. Paul, notwithstanding the indulgence
of the Council of Jerusalem, thought it good policy to circumcise a
proselyte named Timothy, who was born of a Gentile father and a Jewish
mother. The Acts of the Apostles inform us of the motive of this
circumcision (chap. xvi. ver. 3) it being done "because of the Jews
which were in those quarters."

Our two Missionaries now travelled over several provinces of Asia Minor,
such as Phrygia and Galatia, and yet we find that the Holy Ghost forbade
them to announce the word of God in Asia. We may indeed suppose, that
in this passage, the "Holy Ghost" is only intended to indicate that our
missionaries themselves perceived, that it would be dangerous for them
to preach their doctrine; for in the Holy Scriptures the persons of whom
it speaks are always supposed to act from divine impulse.

Paul had a vision, which persuaded him to go to Macedonia. Being arrived
at Phillippi, he preached to the women with such success, that he had
the happiness of converting a dealer in purple, named Lydia, who, from
gratitude, invited them pressingly to lodge in her house. They were
well accommodated no doubt, since devotees take great care of their
directors; but our holy personages had the misfortune to perform a
miracle which deranged all their affairs. Paul cast out the evil spirit
from a damsel, who having a spirit of divination, brought great profit
to her masters by soothsaying. The cure, or perhaps conversion, of
this slave, displeased her masters, they carried their complaint to
the magistrates; the people took a part against our preachers, who were
beaten with rods and then sent to prison. An earthquake retrieved their
affairs, they gained over the gaoler whom they converted to the faith.
In the meantime the magistrates sent him an order to release our
prisoners. But Paul, bearing in mind the scourging they had received,
required that the magistrates should come in person and release them,
asserting that they were Roman citizens: at these words the magistrates
were intimidated, and came with apologies to set them free, begging them
to leave their city, which request they complied with, after having
been to console Lydia the devout, and the brethren, who according to
appearances did not suffer them to depart empty-handed. This bad success
did not discourage our missionaries who were aware doubtless, that
they were inconveniences attached to their profession. They now went to
Thessalonica, where Paul had the good luck to make some proselytes
both among Jews and Gentiles; he converted especially, some ladies
of quality; but the hardened Jews were very much irritated at his
successes; they endeavoured to apprehend Paul and Silas, but not being
able to find them, they dragged Jason, their host, and some of the
brethren, before the magistrates, accusing them of treason, and of
acknowledging another king besides Cæsar.

This uproar obliged our missionaries to decamp during the night from
Thessalonica, and take the road to Berea, where they were well received
by the Jews, since Paul succeeded in convincing them that the Gospel
which he announced was clearly predicted in their own Scriptures: there
is reason to believe that this was effected by the aid of mystical,
cabalistical, and allegorical senses, of which he so well knew the use,
in finding in the Old Testament sufficient to establish whatever he was
desirous of proving.

He gained in this city a great number of recruits from amongst the Greek
females of quality, women, according to St. Jerome are best fitted to
propagate a sect; their levity makes them easily caught by novelties;
their ignorance renders them credulous; their talkativeness spreads
the opinions with which they are imbued; and, in short, their obstinacy
strongly attaches them to the way of thinking they have once adopted. In
a word we see, that in all times the Christian religion has been under
the greatest obligations to women; it is to them that innovators ought
especially to address themselves when they have opinions to establish,
it is by their aid that fanatics and devout impostors succeed in giving
importance to their doctrine, and sow the seeds of discord in society.
It appears that in the time of Paul, women had the right of speaking or
of prophesying in the church, of this, they have since been deprived,
and they are only allowed the privilege of bawling in public, in
favour of the systems of their holy directors, whom they always believe
infallible, without so much as knowing the state of the question. The
Quakers are now the only sect which permits women to preach *.

     * There appears some little ambiguity in this paragraph,
     since if the levity of women renders them so easily
     susceptible to the embracing new opinions, the obstinacy
     with which they are charged in adhering to old ones, would
     seem to neutralize the opposite propensity, and like the
     infinite attributes of Justice and Mercy in the Christians'
     God, they would annihilate each other. The fact is, that the
     ignorant of either sex, are always the most credulous, and
     their opinions, when imbibed, are seldom to be dignified
     with any other term than prejudice. Of the great influence
     of woman in society, no one can doubt, and it is the duty of
     all who think, and who desire a reformation of the present
     semi-barbarous state of society, to endeavour to inform and
     enlighten the female mind; it belongs to man to war against
     old systems, and errors rendered sacred by their antiquity,
     and perhaps to lay down some few elementary principles,
     founded upon a more rational basis, but so long as the
     infant mind is under the controul of woman, it is to her
     that we must look to see those principles implanted: it is
     by the aid of woman that the mass of mankind will (if ever
     it be done) be transformed from a herd of slaves, to a race
     of happy and intelligent beings, knowing their rights, and
     daring to defend them.

The Jews of Thessalonica proceeded to trouble our preachers, in their
apostolic labours, to such a degree that Paul was under the necessity
of flying. He, however, took care to leave two missionaries at Berea,
to watch over the flock which he had gathered. Nevertheless these soon
received orders to join him at Athens.

In this celebrated city the zeal of our Apostle kindled, he had
conferences with the philosophers: desirous to learn the nature of the
discoveries which this man had come to announce to them, they conducted
him to the Areopagus, there Paul harangued them and spoke to them of
his God, in a manner something conformable to the notions already
entertained by some of the Greek philosophers of the Divinity. To
confirm his discourse he cited to them a passage from the poet Aratus,
who nevertheless appears to suppose, according to the doctrine of Plato,
that God is the soul of the world. He inveighed against gods made of
stone and metal, which did not shock the philosophers, whose ideas were
more refined than those of the vulgar.

Thus far our orator was attentively heard, but the sages of Athens would
no longer listen to him, when he began to speak of the last judgment,
and of the resurrection, which they regarded as an absurd and ridiculous
notion. Nevertheless the preaching of Paul was not totally useless at
Athens, the dogma of the resurrection was no obstacle to the conversion
of Dionysius, the Areopagite, a woman named Damaris, and some others.
These were none of them shocked at this doctrine, which was so revolting
to philosophers, who were accustomed to the study of nature, and who
refused to adopt, without examination, such marvellous and romantic
ideas.



CHAPTER VII. Preaching of St. Paul at Corinth and Ephesus

After leaving Athens our Apostle came to Corinth. It appears that
at first he had not much success, for he took to his old trade of
tent-making. However, he ventured to preach in the synagogue, where the
Jews were indignant at his discourse: they carried him to the tribunal
of the proconsul of Achate, who had sufficient prudence to refuse to
interfere in their contests. The Jews did not imitate his moderation;
they ill-treated Sostenus, the chief of their synagogue, either for
having allowed Paul to preach there, or for having been converted by his
discourse.

Paul, after some days, departed from Corinth, he cut off his hair to
fulfil a vow he had made, and which apparently obliged him to be present
at Jerusalem, in order to sacrifice in the temple, according to the law.
Whence we see that our Apostle had not yet totally abandoned the Jewish
religion, and that he judged it good policy, occasionally to manoeuvre
with the Jews. In fact we continually see him sometimes practising, and
at others decrying, Judaism. From Jerusalem, Paul went to Antioch, where
he remained some time, but the activity of his mind soon put him in
motion. After having crossed the high provinces of Asia he came to
Ephesus, where he found the secret of uniting to his sect the disciples
of St. John the Baptist, whom he rebaptized, and made them acquainted
with the Holy Ghost of whom they had no idea. Having now increased his
party by these new recruits, Paul set about preaching in the synagogue,
but finding the Jews rather untractable, he withdrew himself, and
separated his disciples from them. He then commenced teaching in a
separate school and performing miracles to confirm his discourses; he
cured the sick, and especially those possessed, in which he succeeded
much better than those of the Jews, who endeavoured from his example to
attempt such cures. These miracles converted many persons.

Nevertheless, the preaching of Paul at Ephesus gave rise to an affair,
which had nearly proved very troublesome. The Goldsmiths of this city
derived much profit from the manufacture of little silver shrines of
Diana, the patroness of the Ephesians These artisans were much disturbed
with the preaching of our apostle, who decried the gods, and might thus
occasion the ruin of their trade; their clamour alarmed the people, and
caused a great commotion; the public, as is generally the case, when the
affair relates to religion, grew very violent, without knowing why. They
comprehended, in general terms, that their religion and its patroness
were attacked; and there needed nothing more to inflame their zeal.
However the town-clerk of the city having explained to them that
their goddess was in no danger, succeeded in calming the fury of
the superstitious populace, and thus extricated our apostle from his
embarassments.

Paul, however, thought proper to quit a city, in which he had run such
a risk, and again put himself in motion. Arrived at Troas he recommenced
preaching, when his sermon, being a little too long, sent a young man to
sleep, who fell from the third story into the street: they took him up
for dead, when our Apostle having embraced him, assured them that he
lived, the author of the Acts, takes this fact for a miracle, and tells
us gravely that Paul raised a dead man on this occasion.

Notwithstanding this pretended miracle, which if it had been true
ought to have converted the whole town, Paul went directly away, and
recommenced his travels. At Miletus he took leave of the priests of all
the adjacent places, after having made them a pathetic exhortation, in
which he boasts of his humility and disinterestedness, and desires them
to watch over the flock which he had gathered together by his preaching
and indefatigable exertions.



CHAPTER VIII. The Apostle gets into embarrassments at Jerusalem, and is
sent to Rome

Paul now embarked for Jerusalem; notwithstanding his own presentiments,
the warnings that were given him, and the prayers of his adherents,
he was obstinately determined to resort to this city, where the Jews
irritated by his successes, prepared him an unpleasant reception. He
was welcomed by the brethren, to whom he related the progress of the
new sect, but these informed him of the bad designs of the Jews, who
pretended, and not without reason, that he taught a doctrine contrary
to that of Moses. To silence these rumours, and to calm the anger of the
populace, they advised him to fulfil some of the Jewish ceremonies in
public, and to give to these acts of religion much solemnity.

Paul consented to this counsel, but the Jews of Asia, were not thus
duped, they knew what to keep to respecting the doctrine which had
disgusted them; they then excited the Jews of Jerusalem, by saying, that
he brought the Gentiles into the Temple. All the city was soon in an
uproar, the devout people seized Paul, drew him out of the Temple, the
gates of which were closed against this profaner. They were going to
kill him, had not a tribune rescued him out of their hands, and shut him
up in a fortress, in the midst of the clamour of an enraged populace,
which demanded his death.

The Apostle ready to enter his prison, asked of the tribune permission
to harangue the mob, which was granted after his Conductor was
probably assured that he was not the brigand who had lately excited an
insurrection in the country.

In his discourse, which he pronounced in Hebrew, Paul related to the
people the history of his miraculous conversion, nearly in the manner
in which it has been narrated. This recital far from softening the Jews,
made them lose all patience, especially when our Apostle told them he
was sent to the Gentiles. They then broke silence, crying out, "away
with such a fellow from the earth, it is not fit that he should live."
The tribune then shut him up in prison, and commanded that he should be
scourged, in order to draw from him an acknowledgment of the crime which
had excited the fury of the Jews. Paul then declared himself a Roman
citizen, and represented to the centurion charged with the execution
of these orders, that it was contrary to law, thus to treat a citizen
without a trial. The centurion informed the tribune, who was fearful of
having acted with too much precipitation. He was desirous of knowing for
a certainty of what he was accused by the Jews, and the next morning,
freeing him from his chains, presented him to the priests and council of
the nation. Paul then began to harangue the council. He first declared
that in all he had done, he had followed strictly the dictates of his
conscience. At these words the High Priest gave him a box on the ear,
at which Paul being irritated, instead of turning the other cheek,
according to the precept of Jesus, abused the High Priest, treated him
as a hypocrite, or whitened wall. But as he perceived that he had given
offence by his insolence to a man respected by the Jews, he moderated
himself, and alleged that he was ignorant that it was the High Priest
whom he had thus addressed in such terms; an ignorance, however, which
cannot fail to excite surprise, considering that he was a man, who must
have been informed respecting the place where he was, and the quality of
those before whom he was speaking. Our orator was more of an adept,
in managing the opinions of his auditory: aware that the council was
composed of Sadducees, who denied the doctrine of the resurrection;
and of Pharisees, who supported it, he knew how to profit by this
circumstance, by sowing the seed of discord among his judges. In order
to this he pretended that he was a Pharisee, and the son of a Pharisee,
and asserted that they sought his life, because of his hope in the
resurrection of the dead, This stratagem produced the desired effect,
the Pharisees declared in his favour, and acknowledged his innocence,
saying, "We find no evil in this man, but if a spirit or an angel hath
spoken to this man, let us not fight against God." The tumult increased,
and the tribune fearing that the orator would be torn in pieces, put him
under a guard of soldiers, and carried him back to prison.

During the following night, Paul had a vision, in which he thought he
saw the Lord, who told him to be of good courage; and prophecied that
he should go to Rome to bear witness. On the other hand forty fanatical
Jews, made a vow neither to eat nor drink till they had assassinated
Paul. This resolution had the approbation of the princes and priests,
who, according to the clerical spirit, found nothing more just than
assassination in order to get rid of an enemy. The senators also
consented to this treachery. But Paul's nephew having informed him of
this plot, he made the tribune acquainted with it, who to secure the
safety of his prisoner, and to rescue him from the fury of the Jews,
conducted him under a good escort to Cæsarea, and put him under the
protection of Felix, the governor of that province.

Paul, and his accusers, made their appearance before the pagan governor,
who, little versed in the theological disputes of the Jews, told them
that he should decide the affair when he was more fully acquainted with
the particulars. However some days after, he caused the Apostle to be
brought before himself, and his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess; they
heard what he had to say to them of faith in Jesus Christ. But when
Paul, after having preached to them of justice, charity, and repentance,
spoke of the last judgment, they were afraid, and ordered him to retire,
postponing the hearing till a future time. Felix hoping to draw some
money from his prisoner, often sent for him to converse with him. This
conduct lasted two years, at the end of which period this Governor was
replaced by Festus.

The Jews proceeded to accuse Paul before the new governor, and demanded
that he should be sent to Jerusalem. The accused, well knowing that
the place of this scene would be unfavourable to him, and fearing that
Festus would yield to the importunities of his enemies, appealed from
him to Cæsar. This appeal suspended all proceedings. However Festus
having spoken of his prisoner to King Agrippa, who had the curiosity
to see a man that had made so much noise in Judea. Paul appeared before
this prince, justified himself from the accusations brought against
him, and finished by preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This
doctrine appeared so strange to Festus that he did not doubt a moment of
his being deranged. However as folly did not seem to him a crime worthy
of death, he would instantly have acquitted him, had he not made an
appeal to Cæsar. In consequence of this appeal, Paul was put on board a
ship about to sail for Italy. After many difficulties he was shipwrecked
on the coast of the isle of Malta, where the author of the Acts, from
whom we have taken this narrative, does not fail to make him perform
miracles, a necessary seasoning to legends.

Amongst other wonders which Paul wrought in the isle of Malta, he cured
himself, in a very natural manner, of the bite of a viper; in fact, it
appears that he applied fire to it immediately, a simple and well known
remedy, but which was such a prodigy in the eyes of the poor Maltese,
that they took him, who was in possession of so fine a secret, for a
God*. There was apparently nothing more wonderful in the Apostle
curing the son of his host, whom he found ill of a fever and dysentery;
disorders which we find yield to very simple remedies. Still this cure
gained Paul great reputation, they soon brought him a great number of
sick, who, according to our historian, he did not fail to cure. They
rendered him great honours, furnished him with the necessary provisions
for his voyage, and he embarked for Italy.

     * Acts chap. xxviii. ver. 3-6.

Upon his arrival at Rome, Paul was permitted to confer with the
Christians, and to preach to the Jews, whom he endeavoured to convert to
the faith of Christ by the law of Moses and the prophets, which he had
the talent of applying wonderfully to his views: Some smitten with the
mystical, cabalistical, and allegorical explications, that our Apostle
gave them, adopted his opinions, while many others resisted his
arguments.

Indignant against the latter, he told them that their hardness of heart
had been predicted by Isaiah; he then gave them to understand, that God
had formed the project of blinding them, in order to have a fair pretext
for rejecting them, and transferring to the Gentiles, the light and
salvation of which the Jews had made themselves unworthy, by the
obstinacy in which it was the will of God that they should persist.

This conduct of the Divinity must doubtless have appeared very strange
to the Jews. So the Acts inform us, that there arose from these
preachings of Paul, great contests among them. They turned apparently
upon predestination and grace; questions upon which Christian
theologians, have not after eighteen centuries been able to come, either
to an understanding or agreement.

It appears that notwithstanding the obscurity of his doctrine our
Apostle succeeded in gaining proselytes to his sect; this obscurity
itself, has charms for many persons, who believe that a doctrine, is
so much the more marvellous or divine, as it is above the power of the
understanding. He preached during two years to the Romans, without any
person throwing obstacles in his way, and thus laboured to spread this
religion in the capital of the world.

The Acts of the Apostles, which the church orders us to receive as of
divine inspiration, informs us nothing more. St Luke to whom this work
is generally attributed, has transmitted to us, neither the actions,
miracles nor death of his heroes. We are reduced to seek our information
thereupon from traditions, which the interests of the clergy would wish
us to regard, almost as sacred as divine inspirations. According to
these respectable traditions, our Apostle shed his blood for the faith
in the propagation of which he had laboured; he was, say they, beheaded
in the reign of Nero, and in the sixty-sixth year of the Christian era.

After what has been said, we ought naturally to regard St. Paul as
the true founder of the pontifical see of Rome. Nevertheless certain
traditions, useful to the Roman Pontiffs, oblige us to believe that it
was St. Peter, who established his throne in the capital of the world;
the popes have thought, that their interests required, that they should
pass for the authorized successors of this Prince of the Apostles, to
whom Christ himself according to the Gospel, granted immense rights and
privileges. These traditions then make St. Peter travel to Rome, prior to
St. Paul, and only regard the latter as the subaltern associate in the
Apostolic labours of the former.

Nevertheless some critics have ventured to doubt of the reality of St.
Peter's voyage to Italy, and his foundation of the first see in the
world, some authors otherwise very orthodox, without regarding the
interests of the Pope, or respect for the traditions which favour them,
have treated those pretensions as chimeras: as to the heretics, the
sworn enemies of the authority of the Roman Pontiff, they have asserted,
that the voyage of St. Peter to Rome was a fable invented by the
supporters and partizans, with a design to exalt his authority. Both
parties found their doubts or assertions upon these grounds. First, That
the books which the church considers as inspired, make no mention of the
voyage of Simon Peter, although the circumstance of going to plant the
faith in the capital of the world, was sufficiently remarkable to claim
a notice in preference to all the minor cities, which the Acts inform
us that he visited to preach; in fact, the Holy Ghost, or St. Luke his
organ, wishing to inform us in this history of the means made use of by
God, to propagate the Gospel, could not without injustice, omit such a
signal success, nor fail to give the honour of it to St. Peter, in case
he had a claim to it.

Secondly, St. Paul who was at Rome at the same time, that Peter was
supposed to have been there, never once mentions this Prince of the
Apostles, in the epistles to the faithful at different places, while he
speaks to them of many other disciples of much less consideration than
his illustrious colleague: we ought piously to suppose that if St. Peter
had really established the faith at Rome, the Apostle of the Gentiles
would have been too equitable to ravish from him the glory, that must
have accrued to him from so fine a conquest.

Thirdly, Our two Apostles, after the disputes, which they had at Antioch
would not have been desirous of meeting, or exhibiting in the same
place. St. Peter would naturally avoid a haughty colleague, who resisted
him to his face, and who publicly reproved him in a manner sufficiently
disagreeable. Besides Rome being a pagan city, naturally fell into the
department of the Apostle of the Gentiles. In short according to the
Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul was too hasty to agree long with an
associate greater than himself. His quarrel with Barnabas, for a slight
difference, proves that Paul was easily irritated.

Fourthly, St. Peter wrote his first epistle from Babylon, and not from
Rome. It is true that the advocates of this voyage of Peter's, pretend
that Babylon is the same city as Rome, but this is a geographical error,
that without a great share of faith can never be admitted for a truth.
Again, the city of Babylon in Syria, no longer existed in the time of
Peter, there was then only a Babylon in Egypt; it is only there that we
can suppose Peter to have written this first epistle.

Fifthly, The traditions which make St. Peter travel to Rome, are filled
with fables, which make them very suspicious, such as his dispute with
Simon the magician, who having raised himself into the air, by virtue
of his art, fell down and broke his limbs by virtue of the Apostles
prayers. We may also place in the list of fables, the apparition of
Christ to Peter, when he fled from Rome, and his crucifixion with his
head downwards. These facts are related neither by inspired authors,
nor eye witnesses, they are founded on traditions only, that is to say,
popular rumour, which many persons do not respect so much as the Pope,
and the clergy seem to desire.

At the risk then of "uncovering Peter to cover Paul" we say that all
these reasons, seem at least to authorize a doubt respecting the voyage
of St. Peter to Rome, at any rate the Acts of the Apostles appears to
insinuate that Paul was the true founder of the see of Rome. He must
then be regarded as the first Pope. Besides the popes have adopted his
maxims, and faithfully imitate his policy in many respects; this would
easily be proved by comparing the almost constant principles of the
church of Rome, with those of our Apostle, which we shall soon have
occasion to examine.



CHAPTER IX. Reflections on the Life and Character of St. Paul

Such is in a few words the life of St. Paul whom we are justly entitled
to regard as the principal founder of the Christian Religion. In fact
it appears that without him, the ignorant and rude disciples of Jesus,
would never have been able to spread their sect. In order to succeed
they required a man of greater information and activity, more
enterprising and enthusiastic, and possessing more dexterity than any of
those, who composed the apostolic college, before it was joined by Paul.
In him we see all those qualities united, which made him of all others,
the most fitted to lay the foundation of a new sect. He knew how to
profit by the lessons he had received from Gamaliel; from him he had
acquired a profound knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures, and learnt the
art of explaining them in an allegorical sense, or, in other words, the
Cabala by which we may find in these books whatever we desire.

It can hardly be doubted that our Apostle, possessed much energy and
ambition. We first see him persecuting the disciples of Jesus with
ardour; and with the view of gaining his ends, and making court to the
priests, stoop to the trade of informer and spy. Apparently he expected
by these means to advance himself, but seeing the futility of these
ambitious hopes, and probably despised and neglected even by those whom
he had thus zealously served; he changes his batteries, threw himself
upon the enemies side, and seeing the abilities of those whom he found
at the head of the new sect, he felt how easily he could eclipse them,
and constitute himself the chief.

There is reason to believe that these were the true motives of Paul's
conversion; a mind of his stamp in declaring itself on the side of the
new sect, at once satisfied its vengeance and ambition. It was then very
easy for Ananias to make him listen to reason. The apostles were
not slow in discovering the value of their new acquisition; they
acknowledged the superiority of such a man; they foresaw the advantages
the rising sect would derive from his knowledge, his active and
persevering genius and intrepidity of character. Thus we see the new
Apostle, from the moment that he was enrolled in the Apostolic College,
perform the principal part, and throw his coadjutors completely in
the shade. These contented with preaching at Jerusalem, seldom showed
themselves at a distance from this city, whilst our hero, continually
traversed the provinces, made spiritual conquests, and strengthened in a
hundred places the cause of the disciples of Christ, now become his own.
In a word Paul now becomes the soul of his sect; his enthusiasm extends
itself; he braves danger when it is necessary to increase the number
of his partizans; his ambition is flattered by the empire that he has
gained; crosses, fatigues, imprisonments, and blows are not capable
of abating his ardour; determined to succeed at any cost he sacrifices
every thing to the desire that he has of extending those opinions, which
give him the power of reigning over the minds of men. He knew well that
no-empire upon earth is more grateful or stronger than that of opinion.

Nothing appears that ought to induce us to regard the activity,
obstinate constancy, and courage of Paul as miraculous or supernatural
effects. We find the same zeal, and frequently the same intrepidity
and obstinacy in all those strongly animated by ambition or any other
passion. Obstacles but serve generally to irritate energetic minds, more
and more, they make a merit of braving dangers; torture, and even death,
cannot restrain those who are thoroughly enamoured with any object in
which they have placed their happiness.

St. Paul has been held up to us as a man divested of all personal views.
His humility, constancy, disinterestedness, and patience, have been
advanced, as undoubted proofs of his sincerity, and pure zeal for his
religion. But we say that all these things prove nothing but his violent
desire for success. The preachers of an infant and oppressed sect,
destitute of power, must always announce themselves with much
suppleness, mildness and humility; an ambitious man must in order to
gain men's hearts, effect much moderation and appear disinterested;
besides he is sure of losing nothing, when he shall succeed in
establishing his empire over the mind. Do devotees ever neglect their
spiritual guides? In short patience and constancy are necessary in all
enterprises; every man who would crown a great adventure with success,
ought to avoid hastiness. Nevertheless if we turn to the history of St.
Paul, we shall see that patience was not always his ruling virtue;
he very often spoiled his plans by his eagerness, and especially he
alienated the minds of the Jews, rather than converted them to his
opinions. He would perhaps have succeeded much better with them, had he
kept a better government over his impetuous temper, at which it appears
his coadjutors often revolted. Devotees generally mistake that for
zeal, which is but a vice in their character, and an imprudence in their
conduct. The bitter reply that Paul made to the High Priest, proves that
our Apostle was not excessively enduring, and forgot, at least, on some
occasions his Christian patience.



CHAPTER X. Of the Enthusiasm of St. Paul

It appears certain that this apostle was filled with enthusiasm and
zeal. It will perhaps be asked whether we have a right to regard him
as an impostor? a thousand examples prove to us, that nothing is more
common, than to witness enthusiasm, zeal and imposture united in the
same person. The most sincere enthusiast is generally a man whose
passions are turbulent, and capable of blinding him; he takes his
passions for divine impulses, be deludes himself, and if we may be
allowed the expression, gets intoxicated with his own wine. A man who
at first engages in a particular cause from motives of interest, or
ambition, very frequently finishes by attaching himself to it with
sincerity and with strength proportioned to the sacrifices he may have
made for it. If he succeed in persuading himself, that the cause of his
passions is the cause of God, he will make no scruple of supporting
it by all sorts of means, he will sometimes allow the use of artifice,
deceit, and oblique ways of maintaining the opinions of which he happens
to be convinced. It is thus we daily see very zealous devotees, employ
deception, fraud, and sometimes crime, in support of the interests of
religion, i. e. of the cause they have embraced.

Thus although in the first instance the desire of being revenged on the
priests, or ambitious views, may have determined St. Paul to join the
sect of Christians, he might have been able by degrees to attach himself
strongly to it, to persuade himself that it was preferable to the
religion of the Jews, and to employ objectionable means, in order to
make it succeed in the world.

The examination that now remains for us to make of some features in the
conduct of our apostle, and of some passages in the writings which are
attributed to him, will serve better than any reasoning to determine the
judgment, we ought to come to respecting this person. Let us then hear
what he has to say for himself. This analysis will shew us whether
Paul was so sincere, disinterested, humble, mild, and upright as his
partizans, maintain him to have been.

St. Paul in speaking of himself says: "That he knew a man who was caught
up into the third heaven, and that there he heard unspeakable words,
which it was not lawful for man to utter*." It appears in the first
place that no one but a man of a very heated imagination could with
sincerity pretend to have been caught up into the third Heaven; and no
one but an impostor, could assert such a fact without being persuaded
of it. In the second place we may ask of what use could it be to mankind
that St. Paul should hear in the third heaven, unspeakable words, that
is to say, such as it was unlawful for man to utter? What should we
think of a man who should come and assure us, that he possessed a secret
most important to our happiness, but yet one which he was not permitted
to divulge? Thus the voyage of St. Paul is either a chimera engendered
by a sickly brain, or a fable, contrived by a cheat, who sought to make
himself respected by boasting of the peculiar favours of the almighty.
This voyage then was perfectly useless, since it was not permitted him
who made it to relate that which he learnt from it. In short there is
malice in St. Paul thus irritating the curiosity of his hearers and
refusing to satisfy it. Under whatever point of view then we behold this
history or tale of Paul's ravishment into the third heaven, it can be of
no utility to us, and reflects but little honour upon himself.

     * 2 Corinthians, chap. xii. ver. 2, 3, 4.



CHAPTER XI. Of the Disinterestedness of St. Paul

In narrowly examining into the conduct of our Apostle, we shall have
much difficulty in discovering that disinterestedness with which his
partizans are so desirous of investing him. We have already exposed the
natural motives which may have contributed to his conversion. If it be
true as the Acts of the Apostles, adopted by the Ebionites or Nazarenes,
asserts, that St. Paul flattered himself with the idea of marrying the
high priest's daughter, and failed in the project, the disappointment
might to a man of his passionate and hasty temper, be a motive
sufficient to determine him to change sides, and from being as we have
shewn him to have been the spy and satellite of the priests, basely
seeking to gain their good will, by becoming the agent in their furies
against the disciples of Jesus; to declare himself in favour of those,
who were their greatest enemies. It was perhaps the ill success of
Paul's amours, that determined him to a life of celibacy, and to boast
of it as meritorious, whilst according to the Jewish law, nothing was
held in less repute than this state. This holy man would doubtless
transform into a virtue, a conduct, which in him was nothing but chagrin
and ill temper. He asserts that it is good for men to abstain from
women; consequently our clergy have regarded celibacy as a virtue: they
have fancied themselves obliged to imitate the great St. Paul even in
his resentments against the sex. They have flattered themselves with
the idea of being able to resist like him the temptations of the flesh,
which often torments them; if they have indulgently permitted marriage
to the profane, it is because Paul has said, it is better to marry than
to burn. It is notwithstanding probable that the conversion of St. Paul
was occasioned by other motives than the anecdote related by the Acts
of the Ebionites, which appears exposed to many objections. In fact,
according to these Acts, Paul was a pagan born, was made a proselyte,
and consequently he could not, without having been guilty of great
folly, pretend to the daughter of a high priest, whose dignity was so
eminent amongst the Jews. On the other hand according to the writings
adopted by the Christians of our time, St. Paul was of the tribe of
Benjamin, and would not have been permitted to marry the daughter of a
high priest, who must necessarily have been of the tribe of Levi. Again
Paul was a mechanic, a tent-maker, a situation which must have deprived
him of all hope of an alliance so illustrious as that of a sovereign
Pontiff. Thus unless we suppose that love had totally blinded our hero,
to the obstacles which naturally opposed themselves to his desires,
there is reason to believe that his conversion, or change of party,
originated from other motives, than the chagrin of seeing his amours
frustrated. There is reason to believe that Paul being of a very unquiet
genius, was tired of his trade: desirous of trying his fortune, and
living without work, he became the spy of the priests and the informer
against the Christians. Dissatisfied with the priests, who perhaps had
not rewarded him to the extent of his expectations, he joined the new
sect, which assisted by his talents promised good success, or even a
probability that he might become the head; at least he might fairly
calculate on an easy and honourable subsistence without being obliged to
make tents, In fact he saw, that the apostles, who were vulgar men much
inferior to himself, lived very well at the expence of the new converts,
who eagerly brought their wealth and laid it at the apostles feet,
consequently Paul was sensible, how easy it was for him to live in the
same way, and provide himself a very comfortable birth, in a sect, in
which he felt himself capable of playing a very important part. His
ambition must have been more gratified with occupying one of the
first posts, even amongst beggars, than of cringing in an infamous
and dishonourable capacity, under avaricious, haughty and disdainful
priests. Indeed Paul himself tells us that he had relations of
considerable note among the apostles, who having embraced the faith
before him, might have laboured with success for the conversion of a man
so disposed.*

     * Epis, to Romans, chap. xvi. verse 7.

The persecutions that he had excited against the disciples could not
have put any very serious obstacles in the way of his admission into the
apostolic college: nothing was required but to explain and agree upon
facts. The chiefs of the sect were very much flattered at seeing the
conquest made by their party of an inconvenient adversary, who came of
his own accord, and offered his services. His conversion, effected by a
miracle, did honour to his mission, and showed the vulgar the protection
of heaven, which changed the heart of the most bitter enemy of the
Christians. As Paul was not ignorant that in this sect great value was
set upon miracles, visions and revelations, he thought this was the most
favourable door by which he could enter, and render himself acceptable
to the Apostles; they received him with open arms well assured of the
sincerity of a man who after having made such an uproar could not recede
without making himself equally odious both to Jews and Christians.
St. Paul amongst other talents which rendered him a fit person to
propagate the new religion, understood, according to appearances,
Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, whilst in spite of the gift of tongues, we do
not find, that the other apostles possessed these advantages. In fact we
see them remain at Jerusalem, preaching to the Jews only, whilst the new
apostle extended his spiritual conquests, into the provinces of Asia and
Greece, where it appears that without him the Gospel would not have been
preached so soon.

Once connected with the new sect, Paul had doubtless a great interest in
spreading it, in strengthening his party, and making converts in order
to gain support, and have the pleasure of reigning over a great number
of devotees. Thus, under every point of view, we see that our Apostle,
whether in his conversion, or in his preaching, was every thing but
negligent of his interest. All missionaries have necessarily ambition;
they propose to themselves the pleasure of governing minds, and every
thing proves that Paul was not exempt from a passion inherent in
all founders of sects. And further having once established his
ecclesiastical power, we often see him taking care of his temporal
interests, and making his flock feel how just it is that the priest
should live by the altar; in a word to occupy himself with the
emoluments of his preaching. "Let him," says he, "that is taught in the
word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.*" He speaks
in the same tone to the Thessalonicans (chap. v. ver. 12.) He likewise
recommends them an abundant charity.

     * Epis, to Galatians, chap. vi. ver. 6.

It remains to be observed, St. Paul is not like his successors
ungrateful for the benefits which he has received. He thanks the
Philippians for having twice assisted him in his need. It appears that
in his time the Apostles did not possess the divine right that men had
the goodness to give them: but the clergy have since asserted that they
hold from God alone, that which they obtained from the generosity of
princes and people, which evidently frees them from the necessity of
showing gratitude to any one.



CHAPTER XII. Of the imperious Tone and political Views of St. Paul

It appears by the writings attributed to Paul himself that the empire
which he exercised over the members whom he had added to his sect, was
not one of mildness. In proof of this, may be cited the manner in which
this spiritual despot speaks to the faithful of Corinth. "Moreover (says
he) I call God for a record upon my soul, that to spare you, I came not
as yet into Corinth."* Again, "For to this end also did I write, that I
might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things**". He
threatens the Corinthians, and says to them, "if I come again I will
not spare." Again he justifies the tone in which he talks, by saying,
"Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I
should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given
me to edification, and not to destruction."*** It is probably by virtue
of this right of chastising, here assumed by St. Paul, that the Pontiffs
and Priests of the Christians have since arrogated to themselves an
unlimited spiritual power over, the thoughts of their subjects. Their
empire extended itself by degrees over their persons; Christian priests,
exceeding the Apostle to whom the Lord had given this power to
edify, availed themselves of it to destroy those whom they found not
sufficiently submissive to their decisions. If St. Paul did not exercise
over his sheep a power so extensive, it is doubtless because he had not,
like our pastors, princes, magistrates and soldiers under his orders,
capable of executing his holy will: with his imperious temper we may
justly conclude that he would have conducted himself much in the same
manner as some fathers of the church, the Pontiffs of Rome, or the Holy
Inquisition.

We see also that the Apostle, not satisfied with being sole judge in
spiritual affairs, was desirous of the power of deciding in civil suits.
"Dare any of you having a matter against another go to law before the
unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall
judge the world?****" This passage evidently proves that the Apostle
in the depth of his policy had already formed the design of making
the saints, i. e. the clergy, masters of the fortunes as well as the
consciences of the faithful. In fact, he adds, know ye not that we shall
judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? We cannot
sufficiently admire the moderation of the Christian clergy, in not
having rigorously acted up to the letter of this decisive text, which
formally gives them the right of judging in all temporal affairs, or the
concerns of this life. Indeed it appears according to this passage, that
Christians in their transactions, ought to have no other judges, or even
sovereigns, than the church. It is from these maxims, that our priests
have become censors, or a kind of magistrates, who interfere with every
thing, and set themselves up for the judges of the legitimacy of civil
acts, of births and marriages, of which they have made themselves
masters; in a few words, they seize upon man the moment he is born, and
regulate all his motions until his death. It is from these pretences,
that the popes have impudently arrogated the power of disposing of
crowns, of exciting insurrections and wars, and of deciding upon the
rights of sovereigns and people.

     * 2 Corinthians, chap. i. ver. 23.

     ** 2 Corinthians, chap. ii. ver. 9.

     ***  2 Corinthians, chap. xiii. ver. 2. and 10.

     **** 1 Corinthians, chap. vi. ver. 1. and 2.

It is by no means surprising that the heads of the Christian church,
have at all times held up St. Paul, as a man divinely inspired; have
for a distinction entitled him, the Apostle, have inculcated for his
writings the most profound veneration, and have caused them to be
considered, as the oracles of the Holy Ghost. This Apostle was evidently
the architect of the church. We may consider him especially as the
founder of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. It is to him that are owing the
prerogatives, privileges, divine rights and pretences of the clergy.
St. Paul established bishops, assigned them their rights, and in his
writings laid the foundations of that spiritual power, which has since
become so formidable to temporal authority. How could the inventor of so
many useful things, fail to be regarded as the organ of the divinity.

Nevertheless, if we read the gospels with the slightest attention, we
shall find that Jesus has no where spoken of this hierarchy or power,
nor of the prerogatives of the clergy; on the contrary, we see him'
incessantly preaching to his apostles, equality, humility and poverty.
But in that as in many other instances, our Apostle thought himself
at liberty to correct the institutions of Christ, who on all occasions
shewed himself unfavourable to priests. These changes effected by
Paul are sufficient to make us acquainted with his secret policy. He
endeavoured apparently to make himself the spiritual and temporal
head of the churches, which he had by his labours, founded among the
Gentiles, with whom, as we have shewn, he had more success than amongst
the Jews. It was to gain them over that he became all things to all
men, that he dispensed them, as we have said, from the most essential
ordinances of the Mosaic law. In short he had the secret of insinuating
himself, into the minds of idolators, whom he sometimes took by surprize
accommodating himself to their capacities, and giving them as he himself
has said, sometimes milk, and at others, solid food. As we have already
sufficiently shewn, Paul after his successes with the Gentiles, gave
himself little trouble respecting the converted Jews, or with his elder
brethren in the apostle-ship; and openly declared himself against the
Mosaic law. As we have seen be went himself to Jerusalem, to solicit a
decree, to dispense the Gentiles from the rite of circumcision; this he
had much at heart, feeling how necessary this indulgence was, in order
to secure his new subjects. Thus it was he who enlarged the breach,
though small in its origin, which separated the Jews from the
Christians, or Nazarenes. This conduct naturally displeased the rest of
the apostles, who appeared, even after the council, always attached
to the Jewish ordinances, but who on this occasion, found themselves
compelled to cede to Paul, or at least to temporize with a man who had
gained an ascendancy over them.



CHAPTER XIII. Of the Humility, of St. Paul

With the ability and ambitious conduct which we have just remarked in
St. Paul it is difficult to conceive that humility could have been his
ruling passion. Perusing his writings, we shall without much difficulty
discover that when he humbles himself it is generally with a view of
exalting himself in the eyes of his adherents; he does not fail to boast
of the penalties, sufferings, and labours that he has submitted to
for love of them, it is upon this, that he founds his claims to their
respect and gratitude. "Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers
of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God:" further on he adds,
"for I think that God hath set forth us, the apostles last, as it were
appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to
angels, and to men."

St. Paul then reproaches the Corinthians, with their ease, their luxury,
and their pretences, and compares their happy situation with his own.
"We are, (says he to them,) fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in
Christ: we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are
despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger and thirst, and are
buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place, and labour, working with
our own hands." He then enumerates the evils he has suffered, and adds
"I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons to warn
you." Of what? He explains himself, and says, "For though you have ten
thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers; for
in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." Our humble
missionary sends them his lieutenant, Timothy, to bring them back to
their duty, i. e. to the obedience they owed to their spiritual father,
he threatens them himself, and mildly demands of them, "What will ye?
Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of
meekness?"

In all this remarkable tirade there are no traces of that profound
humility, for which credit has been given to Paul: on the contrary, all
discovers a domineering spirit, and a desire of exclusive power over
the faithful whom he had converted. It is generally the proudest men who
complain the most bitterly of being despised and treated with contempt;
and, amongst devotees, Pride knows how to cover appearances with the
garb of humility. However, our Apostle does not give himself the trouble
to mask his self-love: in fact, when he compares himself to the rest of
the Apostles, he makes us understand, that though he terms himself the
last, he has a right to be considered as the first. He says, "For I
suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles." It seems
that the Corinthians were shocked with the harshness of his tone; for he
adds, "but though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge: but we have
been thoroughly made manifest among you in all things." Then feeling
that they might be disgusted with these imprudent self commendations, he
says, "Seeing that many glory after the flesh, I will glory also."

It is easy to see that our Evangelical Doctors propose to themselves
Paul's humility as a model for their own. It is doubtless, in imitation
of this great Saint, that the Pope calls himself the Servant of the
Servants of God, which does not, however, prevent him from making those
who refuse to acknowledge his unlimited power, and blindly subscribe to
his infallible decisions, feel his pastoral rod; but when the rulers of
the Church make use of this rod, it is only to shew their great zeal for
the interests of the Lord.



CHAPTER XIV. Of the Zeal of St. Paul; Reflections on this Christian
Virtue

That passion which in common life is termed, anger, fury, vengeance or
delirium, becomes zeal as soon as its object is religion, or the cause
of God. It is a maxim among Christian devotees, that we cannot love God
too much, consequently we cannot sin in excess of zeal. According
to these principles, our doctors in their quarrels, injure, defame,
calumniate, and asperse, and when they have the power, persecute and
exterminate each other. Each sect, firmly persuaded that it is in the
right, and that its peculiar way of thinking is the only one that God
can approve, thinks itself justified in destroying the opinions of its
adversaries, which displeasing to itself, must consequently displease
the divinity. Thus in attentively examining the thing, we find that
religious zeal is nothing but anger, excited in a bigot by opinions
adverse to his own, or those of the party he has espoused. In a word,
zeal is the gall which contradiction secretes in the souls of bigots.
There can be no doubt, but that St. Paul has left a model of this sort,
which our evangelical doctors, have in all times faithfully copied. If
this great Apostle did not go to the extent of persecuting those who
resisted his arguments, or refused blindly to submit to his supreme
decisions, it is because he was not sufficiently strong; otherwise
judging from the warmth of his temperament we may reasonably presume,
that he would have been easily carried to extremities, well calculated
to justify the holy passion to which the heads of the church have since
given themselves up on all occasions, when they have had sufficient
power to give a lustre to their zeal.

In fact we find, that Paul's self love, did not suffer contradiction
with too much patience. He delivers over to Satan those who refuse
to obey him, he pretended that any other Gospel, than his own, was
abominable. "I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called
you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel." He pretends and
affirms that he alone taught the true doctrine, and that all others are
impostors, false prophets, and disturbers; we are obliged to believe on
his own word that he possesses infallibility.

He goes so far as to say in the heat of his self-love "But though we, or
an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you, than that which
we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so
say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you, than that
ye have received, let him be accursed."* This language might well appear
insolent, presumptuous, and even impious to those who have not faith,
nevertheless it is that which is invariably held by the chiefs of every
sect; we see them, upon their own authority, continually anathematizing,
excommunicating, damning and delivering over to the devil, whoever has
the temerity to understand the Gospel in any other way but their own.
Every doctor like Paul, declares himself and even believes himself to be
infallible; nothing in the world, (not even the angels of heaven) could
make him renounce opinions which his self-love, his obstinacy, and his
vanity, cause him to behold as the only true.

     * Epistle to Gal. Chap. i. ver. 8 and 9.

The history of Paul, however furnishes us with an embarrassing
circumstance. Ardent in dispute and obstinately attached to his own
ideas, we see this infallible Apostle boasted of having resisted Cephas,
i.e. Peter, to his face, who nevertheless appears to have had titles to
infallibility, still better established than those of our Apostle; in
fact if Paul, in order to prove his own infallibility, supports it by
his visions, inspirations, revelations, and miracles: St. Peter might in
favour of his own, oppose to him a great number of visions, dreams, and
prodigies equally authentic with those of his brother. If Paul founded
the divinity of his mission, and the truth of his particular way of
thinking on his own testimony, could not St. Peter cite, in support of
his authority, the testimony of Jesus Christ, who had declared him the
chief of the apostles, who had established him, as the first shepherd of
his flock, and the rock on which, he would found his church? Is it not
upon this authentic evidence, that the Pope, who stiles himself
the successor of Peter, founds his infallibility, acknowledged and
maintained by the greater part of the Roman Catholic Clergy? There
is then reason to be astonished that Paul, with titles not so well
established, should have dared to resist Peter to his face, or that he
should have boasted of such resistance; and it is not less surprising
that the latter should have ceded to his junior in the apostleship,
having such powerful arguments to support his claim to infallibility.

All may however be explained by the supposition that upon this occasion
St. Paul showed himself more headstrong than St. Peter, who for the
sake of peace, yielded to the eagerness of his adversary, and would not
support his own infallibility at the risk of exciting a schism in the
rising sect. We have seen in our time pious Jansenists avail themselves
of St. Paul's example, to resist to the face the infallible decisions of
the Roman Pontiff; but he, less moderate than his predecessor St. Peter,
would not cede, but remained obstinate in maintaining his irrefragable
authority, and by this means produced and fomented divisions, which the
determined zeal displayed by both parties, has rendered very dangerous.
The successor of St. Peter anathematizes, and finding himself the
strongest, persecutes the imitators of St. Paul, for daring to resist
him: these of course strongly attached to their principles which they
deem infallible, are obstinate in their resistance, detest the opinions
of their tyrants, and in spite of charity, very cordially damn those who
do not think like themselves, whilst these last from attachment to
the infallibility of the Pope, whom they have on their side, believe
themselves compelled, in conscience, to make their adversaries submit to
the most inhuman and unreasonable treatment.

Such are the salutary effects which zeal has produced in the Church of
Jesus Christ, from the first preaching of the gospel to the present day.
The zeal of St. Paul not contented with exercising itself against his
brethren the apostles, shewed itself strongly in all situations. We see
him excite trouble and clamour in whatever cities he happened to be. We
generally term a man a public disturber, who troubles the peace of his
neighbours; but, in religion, a saint is a man who dares to preach his
own opinions, as those of God himself, at the risk of exciting the most
disastrous revolutions in society. His self-love becomes legitimate as
soon as its object is religion; proves to him in the most convincing
manner that he is always right; that his way of thinking is necessary
to salvation, and that all considerations ought to give way to such
an important object. If religious zeal is able one day to procure
advantages in the other world; it is at least very evident that it
causes many misfortunes here below. In the eyes of reason it is always
equally dangerous, even when it is the fruit of the most sincere
devotion. If the impostor, the ambitious man and the hypocrite, avail
themselves of it as a cloak to cover all crimes, the sincere bigot
thinks that zeal justifies the greatest excesses, and often makes a
merit, and even a duty, of detesting his fellows and troubling society.

It is in fact difficult to reconcile zeal with the spirit of union,
concord, and peace, that Christianity recommends, or with that charity
which St. Paul places above all virtues, and without which, he assures
us that all the others are useless. But did this Apostle himself possess
much charity, when not satisfied with carrying trouble into every place
where he preached, he inveighed against those whom he found not disposed
to believe*?

     * Epistle to Tim. Chap. i. ver. 20.

It is doubtless nothing but a lively faith, which can reconcile the
violent conduct of this great Apostle, with the charity which he
incessantly recommends. It appears at least difficult to have a sincere
regard for men whom zeal obliges us to hate, either as our own enemies,
or as the enemies of God. The subtle theology of the Christians, can
alone reconcile these incompatible dispositions.

It is only the ministers of the Church, who have the talent of proving,
that without a violation of Christian charity, it is lawful to harass,
persecute, and destroy ones neighbours. They can in fact clearly show
that we may burn the body of a man, out of tenderness for his soul. They
think they have a right to excommunicate a man, or anathematize him,
that is to say, exclude him for ever from spiritual grace, to put him
in short into the road to damnation, to deliver him to Satan, for the
destruction of the flesh, in order to save him, according to the spirit.
This conduct is not the least inconceivable mystery of the Christian
religion; faith is doubtless necessary to find it either charitable
or intelligible. How can we conceive, for example, that the desire of
saving the soul of an heretic, or an impious man, can determine the
inquisition or Christian magistrates to consign him to the flames, even
while be persists in those opinions, which they suppose must plunge him
into hell?



CHAPTER XV. Of the Deceptions or Apostacy of St. Paul

By the aid of faith we never find any thing to condemn in the conduct
of those, whom we have been accustomed to regard as saints; their
obstinacy, seditious spirit, pride, even their ferocity, are justified,
by saying that they are animated with a holy zeal. In a word, a saint
may violate with impunity, the most sacred rules of morality, without
his bigoted admirers permitting themselves to criticise his conduct.
Saints have always been in the habit of terming those chastisements,
which they have drawn upon themselves (oftentimes justly) by their
unruly passions or indiscreet zeal, persecution. Those whom a devout
phrensy excites to tumult and disorder are honoured as confessors and
martyrs, and we find the Jews and Pagans were the most unjust and cruel
of men, for having treated the Christians, whom they could not consider
but as disturbers of the public peace, in the same manner as the
Christians now treat the Jews, heretics, and infidels. Bigots, accustom
themselves to regard their saints as irreproachable characters, or if
they cannot justify their conduct, they say that God has permitted them
to sin, to humiliate them, in order that he might have an opportunity of
pardoning them. It is thus that every good Christian regards a brigand
in revolt against his legitimate sovereign, an usurper, a monster of
cruelty, an infamous adulterer, an assassin, in a word, a David, as a
great saint; or even by excellence, as the man after God's own heart!
Faith in the mind of a bigot, is able to reverse, even the most simple
rules of morality and virtue. Religion encourages the most perverse men
to give themselves up to the blackest crimes, the most shameful vices,
and the most shocking irregularities, by setting before them the
examples of scoundrels, who were nevertheless the friends of God.

It cannot be pretended that St. Paul of whom we are now speaking, was
guilty of excesses, similar to those committed by the king of the Jews,
whose whole history is a series of horrors: but without faith it is
difficult to consider our Apostle as an irreproachable character; though
the historian, whoever he be, to whom we are indebted for the Acts of
the Apostles, has designed to hold him up as a model of virtue, we find
that by a singular oversight he did not seem aware, that he made him
tell an untruth in public, and in the most solemn manner in presence of
the Sanhedrim or great council of the Jews. In fact as we have already
remarked, perceiving that his audience was composed of Sadducees and
Pharisees, with the view of dividing them and gaining friends, Paul
cried out that he was a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, and that they
sought to kill him, because of his hope in the resurrection.

In this assertion we may detect two deceptions. In the first place Paul
was not a Pharisee, at the moment he spoke he was a Christian, he was
an Apostle, he preached Jesus Christ, he laboured effectually to make
proselytes to his sect, he had disgusted the Jews in announcing to them
a new law, contrary to that of Moses, he had procured in the council
at Jerusalem the abolition of the practice of circumcision so strictly
ordained by their law. In a word he preached Christianity and not
Judaism in the same moment that he declared himself a Pharisee. On this
occasion his conduct was in fact that of an apostate, at least it cannot
be denied, that he conducted himself as a coward, who did not care to
acknowledge his real belief in tbe presence of tbe council, and who had
recourse to an artifice to outwit his Judges. In fact the conduct of
Paul on this occasion has no resemblance to that of a great number of
martyrs, who freely acknowledge themselves Christians at the risk of
their lives, and boldly confessed Jesus Christ, in the presence of
their persecutors and executioners. The presence of tbe High Priest
and council so much imposed on St. Paul, that he declared himself a
Pharisee; fear troubled his memory to such a degree, that he forgot he
had just acknowledged himself a Christian, and missionary of Jesus to
tbe Gentiles in the presence of the people collected before tbe gate of
the fortress, who indignant at his discourse, cried out, "away with such
a fellow from the earth for it is not fit that he should live." Nothing
then but theological subtilty, can clear Paul from deception, apostacy,
and cowardice on this occasion.

In the second place it was not true, that it was because of the hope
of another life, and of the resurrection of the dead, that Paul was
persecuted by the Jews. It was for having preached a new doctrine,
contrary to the law of Moses; this great legislator has in no part
taught us what we ought to believe concerning the resurrection of the
dead or of another life. The Jews without ceasing to be Jews, embraced
respecting it whatever opinion they pleased, the Sadducees rejected it
without however being on that account, excluded from the synagogue,
and without ceasing to observe tbe Judaic law; tbe Pharisee admitted it
without its appearing to cause a schism between them, ami those who
did not think, as they did. It is true that Paul had preached the
resurrection, but it was that of Jesus, on which he endeavoured to
establish a new sect very different from the Jewish religion. Thus the
words of St. Paul were merely a subterfuge unworthy of a man, whom grace
ought to have endued with sufficient courage to maintain before tbe
council, at the peril of his liberty and his life, the same sentiments
that he had taught tbe people and preached in all those places where he
had planted the faith. It was then for having preached Christianity,
and for having (in spite even of his brethren the apostles) desired in
favour of the Gentiles the abolition of the Jewish customs, that Paul
was persecuted, the priests were doubtless irritated against a man who
sought to abrogate a law and a priesthood which a divine revelation had
so many times taught them was to endure eternally, whilst the authors of
the Epistle to the Hebrews formerly assures us that they have been set.
aside by the Gospel.



CHAPTER XVI. St. Paul's Hypocrisy

We cannot avoid perceiving still more of the insincerity and profound
hypocrisy of Paul's conduct at Jerusalem. After having preached in a
great number of towns in Asia and Greece, a doctrine revolting to the
feelings of the Jews, and which every where caused disturbances amongst
them, after having in favour of the Gentiles abolished circumcision so
particularly ordained by the law of Moses, and deemed so essential to
the proselytes of the gate; we see this great Apostle, by the advice
of his brethren, submit himself, during seven days, to the Jewish
ceremonies; purify himself with affectation. "Then Paul took the men,
and the next day purifying himself with them, entered into the temple,
to signify the accomplishing of the days of purification, until that
an offering should be offered for every one of them*." But the Jews of
Asia, who knew the real sentiments of our missionary, from having heard
him preach when amongst them, were not the dupes of his hypocrisy: they
excited the people "crying out, men of Israel, help: this is the man
that teacheth all men every where against the people, and the laws of
this place; and further brought Greeks also into the temple, and hath
polluted this holy placet.**" These were the true charges of the Jews
against Paul, and without denying what we find in the Acts of the
Apostles, we must acknowledge, that they were well founded.

     * Acts of Apostles, chap. xxi. ver. 6.

     **  Acts of Apostles, chap. xxi. ver. 28.

What should we say in the present day of a bishop, who, whilst
pretending to be a Christian, should go for a period of seven days into
a synagogue in London or Amsterdam, to fulfil Jewish ceremonies in the
sight of the public? We should not fail to regard him as an apostate,
or a knave, who had sinister intentions at any rate, the most favourable
construction, we would put upon his motives, would be to suppose him
a fool. We are however to admire this conduct in Paul, he pretends to
justify himself by the necessity of becoming all things to all men. It
is thus we see that hypocrisy, falsehood, and imposture, are legitimate
means, by which to advance the cause of God and gain souls.

Nevertheless there is every reason to think that St. Paul in acting in
such a singular manner, had his own interest and safety, more at heart
than the cause of the divinity. His conduct has been faithfully copied
by a great number of Christian missionaries, and especially by the
Jesuits, whom their adversaries often reproach with having frequently
assimilated the worship of Jesus with that of those idolatrous people,
whom they were endeavouring to convert.



CHAPTER XVII. St. Paul accused of Perjury, or the Author of the Acts of
the Apostles, convicted of Falsehood.

Not contented with pursuing this oblique or hypocritical conduct, we
again see, our great Apostle, evidently, wilfully guilty of perjury,
or a false oath. To convince ourselves of this we have only to read the
commencement of his Epistle to the Galatians; to prove to them, that the
gospel which he announced to them; was divinely inspired, he says "But
certify to you brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me, is
not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught
it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ." Further on he proves what he
advances by saying, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my
mother's womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his son in me, that
I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with
flesh and blood; neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were
apostles before me but I went into Arabia, and returned again into
Damascus. Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter,
and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles, saw I none,
save James the Lord's brother. Now the things which I write unto you
behold before God I lie not*." But if Paul did not lie, in what he
related to the Galatians, it is clear that the author of the Acts of the
Apostles, whom the Christian church regards as an inspired writer
equally with St. Paul, has lied. In fact in the ninth chapter of the
Acts, it is said that Paul after his conversion, and after having
recovered his sight remained some days with the disciples who were at
Damascus; which proves that he was instructed by men, or that he took
counsel of flesh and blood. Believing himself sufficiently fortified in
his theology, by Ananias or others, he began to preach Christ in the
synagogue, at which conduct the Jews were so shocked that they sought to
take away his life: but Saul escaped from their fury by means of a
basket, and without mention made of his journey to Arabia, he directly
returns to Jerusalem, where the disciples were in the first instance
fearful of him, but Barnabas, encouraged them, and presented him to the
apostles, at the same time relating to them his miraculous conversion,
and his courageous preaching at Damascus. In consequence it is said that
Paul was added to the number of the faithful. (Acts ix).

     * This passage proves very forcibly that Paul preached a
     different gospel from that of the other apostles,  i. e.
     from the Ebionites or Nazarenes.

It is easy to see, how little this recital of the inspired historian
of the Acts, agrees with that of the inspired Apostle, who wrote to the
Galatians, and confirmed his narration by an oath. Besides the journey
of St. Paul to Arabia upon leaving Damascus, and which preceded his
arrival at Jerusalem by three years, becomes very improbable, as well as
his stay in this country. In fact the disciples at Jerusalem must have
been in habits of correspondence with those of Damascus, consequently
they would thus have heard of an event so interesting to their sect,
as the conversion of St. Paul and the pains he took to propagate their
doctrines; thus the presence of our Apostle would not have created any
uneasiness, and there could have been no need of Barnabas becoming his
surety. It appears then that the new convert upon leaving Damascus went
directly to Jerusalem, that he had there an opportunity of conversing
with the apostles, and that his theology was not intuitive.

But even supposing that the journey and sojourn of three years in
Arabia, really took place, it would be no less certain that Paul took a
false oath to the Galatians, or that the author of the Acts is deceived.
In fact St. Paul writes that at the end of three years he returned to
Jerusalem to visit Peter, and that he remained fifteen days with him
without seeing any other of the apostles. This is quite at variance
with the author of the Acts, who informs us that Paul being come to
Jerusalem, sought to join himself to the disciples, who were afraid of
him, not knowing that he was a disciple. Our Saint contradicts all this
by a different tale which he confirms by an oath.

Moreover by this oath Paul himself contradicts the discourse which the
author of the Acts, puts into his mouth in the presence of King Agrippa,
of Queen Berenice, and the governor Festus*.

In relating to them his conversion, he says to them, Whereupon, O King
Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision; but shewed
first unto them at Damascus and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the
coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles that they should repent and
turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. Thus according to the
author of the Acts, St. Paul himself acknowledges that he first
preached at Damascus, then at Jerusalem before addressing himself to the
Gentiles.

If he had preached during a period of three years in Arabia, he would
have spoken of the circumstance, of which no mention is made in all the
Acts of the Apostles, whilst we find there the most minute details of
the continual journeyings.

We shall just remark here a visible contradiction in the Acts of the
Apostles; The author of this work in relating the miraculous conversion
of St. Paul, says that those who accompanied him, were speechless,
hearing a voice but seeing no man**. However the same author, forgetting
himself makes Paul say in his discourse to the Jews, "And they that were
with me saw indeed the light and were afraid, but they heard not the
voice of him that spake to me***".

It belongs to the impartial reader to judge what degree of confidence is
due to writers who are so often at variance. In the first instance Paul
solemnly attests by an oath, the truth of a fact, not only omitted, but
even formally contradicted by St. Luke, his historian and disciple. In
the second instance the historian contradicts himself. This ought at
least to shake the implicit faith, that so many persons put in works
which possess neither the consistence nor harmony required in ordinary
writers. As to our doctors they tell us their ways of saving the honour
of these two inspired ones; whom they have much interest in washing from
so grave an accusation, and such a taint upon the Christian religion.

     * Acts, xxvi. ver. 29.

     **Acts, ix. ver. 7.

     ***Acts, xxii. ver. 9.



CHAPTER XVIII. Examination of St. Paul's Miracles

Though St. Paul as we have just seen, has himself taken care to shake
the credit of the author of the Acts of the Apostles, it is nevertheless
on the word of this writer that Christians think themselves obliged to
believe in the miracles of our great Apostle. In fact, like all those
who have endeavoured to establish new sects, our preacher could not
dispense with performing prodigies: this is the most certain method
of exciting tbe admiration of the vulgar. Incapable of reasoning, of
judging of the soundness of a doctrine, and frequently unable in the
least to comprehend it, miracles always become the most powerful of
arguments; they are indubitable proofs that he who works them is the
favourite of the divinity, that consequently he cannot be in the wrong,
nor capable of a wish to deceive.

Miracles were more especially necessary amongst the Jews; they demanded
signs from all those who spoke to them in the name of the Lord, and
there was little difficulty in working them, before an ignorant and
credulous people, ready to receive as such every thing that was shewn to
them. In spite of a disposition so favourable to miracle-mongers, we
do not find that those of Jesus himself and afterwards of his apostles,
produced on the Jews those effects which we have a right to expect from
them. We find that at the time they were performed they convinced nobody
and drew those who worked them, into difficult situations. It was
not until a long time had elapsed that these prodigies produced their
effects, and by a miracle that we can never cease to admire, we find,
that these prodigies, which were discarded by those who saw them, were
most firmly believed by those who did not see them, and are now ranked
amongst the strongest evidences of the divinity of tbe Christian
religion. There are only some reasoners who persist in judging of these
ancient miracles in the same manner as the contemporaries who did
not see them, or who, if they did see them, regarded them as so many
instances of deception and slight of hand, incapable of imposing on
them. It is only the simplicity, of faith, that is to say, an implicit
confidence in the assertions of our guides, which can make us see
miracles, or cause us to believe in those we have not seen. But this
simple faith is the effect of an especial grace that God grants only to
those who are poor in spirit, and harshly refuses to those who think and
reason. As soon as we want confidence in the operators, we see no more
miracles, or at least we doubt of those that are shewn to us.

It does not appear that St. Paul performed miracles at Jerusalem after
his conversion; this city was not in his department: it belonged to St.
Peter and the other Jewish apostles, who, according to the Acts, did not
cease to work miracles there. Our Apostle of the uncircumcised, or of
the district in which the Gentiles were converted, having quitted his
brethren, commenced his course of miracles at Paphos. He was upon the
point of converting Sergius, proconsul of the province, had not a cursed
sorcerer of a Jew, named Barjesus, and surnamed Elymas, i.e. magician,
endeavoured to prevent the magistrate from believing in Jesus Christ.
Indignant at the obstacle that this man opposed to the divine will,
instead of converting and convincing him, Paul abused him according
to the present practice of theologians, and called him a child of the
devil, and finished with striking him with blindness. If this conduct
was conducive to the salvation of the proconsul, who according to the
author of the Acts, having seen this miracle, believed, being astonished
at the doctrine of the Lord, there are many who will not be so edified,
at this prodigy, so contrary to Christian charity and mildness. In fact
would it not have been more kind of St. Paul armed with divine power,
to have enlightened the eyes of the sorcerer's mind, than to have struck
those of his body with darkness? But we always see that the miracle
that the apostles as well as their divine master had most difficulty in
working was that of convincing those who were not disposed to believe
every thing.

It appears that on the present occasion, the sorcerer was stronger, in
point of reasoning, than St. Paul, which put him in a passion. Logic was
not in fact, the most prominent quality in our Apostle, any more than
in his brethren and successors. Besides, this holy Missionary was of too
impetuous a temper to reason with moderation, and argue in a clear and
precise manner. Thus to terminate the dispute with Elymas, he abused
him, and perhaps relying on the protection of the proconsul, whom he saw
wavering in favour of his doctrine, ventured to strike his antagonist,
which deprived him of his sight for a period, for it is easy to deprive
a man of the use of his eyes without a miracle*.

     * This, it must in candour be acknowledged, is an inference
     which the text will not warrant us to draw, and is unworthy
     Boulanger's pen.    It seems to be compromising the dignity
     of truth, to impose upon itself the necessity of accounting
     for all the hocus pocus tricks, or wilful falshoods, which
     the ignorance, bigotry, and knavery of a deplorable
     superstition, have handed down through the mist of eighteen
     centuries.--Translators

We learn that our Apostle and his associate Barnabas, wrought such
miracles at Iconiura, that all the city was divided, one part being
in favour of the Jews, and the other for the Apostles. But immediately
after we are informed, that "when there was an assault made, both of
the Gentiles and also of the Jews, with their rulers, to use them
despite-fully, and to stone them, the Apostles were aware of it, and
fled to Lystra and Derbe."

This conduct of the inhabitants of Iconiura is certainly inconceivable.
Pagans and Jews unite to ill treat and stone our Apostles, who in spite
of the divine power which they possess have no other expedient, than to
seek safety in flight.

In spite of the inutility of his miracles, Paul worked more at Lystra; he
there cured a lame man, in whom by mere inspection he discovered much
faith. This gives rise to a suspicion that this might have been a
miracle concerted between them. He said to him, with a loud voice, stand
upright on thy feet, and he leaped and walked. The people of Lystra
were so struck by this prodigy, that they took our two missionaries
for gods, and would have offered them sacrifices, but Paul and Barnabas
forbade them with great modesty. This great miracle must have been
believed, even by the priest of Jupiter, since it is said, that he
brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have sacrificed with
them. This circumstance clearly proves that nobody at Lystra doubted the
truth of this miracle. However some Jews who had arrived from Iconium
were able to undeceive a whole city, which had seen the miracle of the
lame man. The poor St. Paul, who had just before been taken for Jupiter,
was stoned, and dragged out of the city for dead; he revived, however,
and, in spite of his miracle, he saved himself, with Barnabas by fleeing
to Derbe.

The miracle wrought by our saint at Philippi in Macedonia, did not meet
with more success, he there cured a girl, who had a spirit of Python,
and being by that means possessed of the power of divination, gained
great profit to her masters. These, far from acknowledging and admiring
the power of a man who reduced to silence Apollo, one of the
most powerful gods of paganism, brought Paul and Silas before the
magistrates, and excited the people against them. It is right to
remark in this place, that Apollo (i. e. the Devil) who resided in this
prophetess, laboured to destroy his own empire. In fact having perceived
Paul and his comrade, the girl followed them, crying, these men are the
servants of the Most High God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.
And this did she many days. But Paul being grieved, turned and said to
the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of
her, and he came out the same hour*.

It is surprising that Paul was grieved at a declaration so favourable
to his mission, and that he should impose silence on a demon, whose
testimony was so honourable, and likely to draw adherents! but the
conduct of saints is always inexplicable.

In these unhappy times in which faith is so cold, no credit is given,
either to those possessed, or to soothsayers; it is difficult to know
what the nature of the spirit of Python, which inhabited the Macedonian
girl could have been**. If we might hazard a conjecture on the subject,
it might be supposed that our Apostles, to give themselves some relief,
gained her over, and employed her to play her part, by giving her to
understand that it would be her interest to attach herself to the new
sect, rather than work for masters, who, probably, paid her very poorly
for her services from which they drew all the profit.

     * Acts xvi. 17, 18.

     ** Some critics have been very much embarrassed, to
     conjecture what the nature of this spirit of Python could
     have been: several have thought that those who had this
     spirit, were such as are known to us in the present day by
     the name of ventriloquists, who have the power of
     articulating words, more or less distinctly, without any
     motion of the lips being perceptible. There are such
     persons, who create much surprise to those unacquainted with
     this faculty, and we cannot be astonished that the vulgar,
     who doat upon the marvellous, should attribute this power to
     supernatural causes.

The magistrates of Philippi on the complaint of those masters, as we
have seen, caused our exorcists to be flogged, and sent them to prison.
An earthquake happened very opportunely, the jailor was gained over
or converted; the magistrates, thinking the Missionaries had been
sufficiently punished, permitted them to depart; but then, as we have
seen, they declared themselves Roman citizens, and refused to go, until
the magistrates, who were now intimidated, consented to make them an
honourable reparation.

Notwithstanding the miracles wrought by Paul during his mission,
disagreeable reports every where accompanied him, or followed him, so
closely in all the cities through which he passed, that neither himself
nor his comrades could remain long in the same place. They only passed
through Amphipolis and Apollonia, and repaired to Thessalonica, where,
in a very short time, the whole city was in an alarm. Jason, their
host, was, as we have already seen, ill treated on their account, it was
alleged against our Missionaries, that they overthrew every thing, and
in preaching another king than Caesar, seemed desirous of plotting a
conspiracy. In consequence of this, as it was a serious accusation, the
brethren contrived the escape of Paul and Silas during the night.

Arrived at Berea, our two adventurers, soon excited similar
disturbances. Paul repaired to Athens, where the philosophers who heard
him, took him for a talker whose brain was unsound. However in spite of
his success, which was doubtless very slow, he had the mortification of
being compelled to labour at his original trade of tent-making, which
was very hard for a preacher ordained to live by the altar, that is to
say, one whose trade it was to sell spiritual wares, to those who
bound themselves to provide him, wherewith to subsist on credit Such is
clerical traffic. Further, St. Paul takes special care to boast to the
Corinthians of his great disinterestedness. He makes them understand he
would not be chargeable upon them; by which he appears to have intended
some indirect reproaches, calculated to pique their pride and
excite their generosity, towards the holy man who laboured for their
salvation*. The Corinthians probably imagined that men who performed
miracles, had no need of assistance: but our miracle-mongers were under
the necessity of satisfying their wants by ordinary methods. They were
like the adepts, who were always in poverty though offering to others
the secret of making gold.

There is reason to believe that Paul performed great miracles amongst
the Corinthians, at least he says to them himself "Truly the signs of
an apostle, were wrought among you in all patience, in signs and wonders
and in mighty deeds**." However we find that these miracles had not yet
sufficiently convinced the Corinthians, since Paul says to them "Seek ye
a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you ward is not weak, but is
mighty in you***."

     * See 2. Corinthians, chap. xi. ver. 7, 8, 9, 16. Chap. xii.
     ver. 13, and also 1. Corinthians chap. ix. ver 11,13, 14,

     ** 2 Corinthians xii. 12.

     *** 2 Corinthians xiii. 3.

Respecting the miracles wrought by St. Paul at Corinth, we have only his
own evidence, and that is sufficient; the author of the Acts though very
free upon this article does not inform us, that he wrought any in this
city, this was most likely the case, since he remained there a long
time, an unusual circumstance, where he condescended to perform
miracles, which generally compelled him to remove, in consequence of the
disturbance they excited. He was obliged to quit Ephesus, where we are
assured, that he performed a great number, and where handkerchiefs,
linen, &c. which had touched him, cured the sick, and expelled devils.
He departed from Troas directly after having raised a dead man to life,
or at least after having asserted that a young man, who was thought so,
was in reality not so. In short in the isle of Malta he cured himself of
the bite, either because the reptile had not in fact bitten him, or
by applying fire to the wound, a remedy which though common, might be
unknown to the inhabitants of the island, as we have already remarked.



CHAPTER XIX. Analysis of the writings attributed to St. Paul

After having examined the character of St. Paul by His conduct, it will
be proper to make some reflections on his writings; they will serve
to place in a still clearer light, this celebrated man, to whom
Christianity owes so many obligations. If we confine ourselves to those
works attributed to him, the Apostle of the Gentiles must have been a
very extraordinary compound of discordant qualities, which when united
must have produced an inexplicable whole. He himself informs us, that he
had within him two men, the new man and the old man; the just man, and
the sinner. He had two bodies, the one natural and the other spiritual;
the body of sin and death, and the body of justification and life. He
had within him, two laws, which regulated his actions, the law of sin,
and the law of justice, the law of the flesh, and the law of the spirit.
Never was poor mortal so perplexed and teazed, than was our Apostle
according to his own account, by these two opposite laws, which he had
within himself. The carnal man makes him say, (see Romans, chapter vii.
verse 18, to the end of the chapter.)

In other places the spiritual man, makes him hold another language, he
assures the Galatians, that he is one with Christ and crucified with him
(see Galatians. chapter vii. verse 19 and 20.) In another place he says
to the Romans. "For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath
made me free from the law of sin and death." It is clear that this
duplicity of nature and law in St. Paul as acknowledged by himself
is calculated to throw us into much embarrassment. In fact how can we
distinguish in his conduct or discourse, that which springs from the
old, from that which arises from the new man, or the spirit of life and
the grace of Christ? Is it very easy at this time, to determine which
governed St. Paul in those moments in which he spoke, acted, or wrote?
Perhaps those maxims and dogmas most admired by Christians have been the
suggestions of the flesh, the fruits of the old man, and that this old
man often influenced his conduct, which, as we have shewn was not at all
times free from reproach. In short the acknowledgments are of a nature
well calculated to plunge the most firm Christians into uncertainties
from which, without supernatural assistance, they will have great
difficulty in extricating themselves. These confessions may further
serve to shew us the inconsistencies, contradictions, absurdities, the
sophistry and superficial reasoning, and disjointed ideas, which we meet
with at every page of the writings attributed to St. Paul. It is to
be presumed, that it is the Holy Ghost, or Christ, who speaks when he
appears reasonable, it would be blasphemous to say or think, that they
could talk nonsense: in this case we shall say, that it is St. Paul
or the flesh, who speaks, when we find him using bad arguments,
extravagancies, and unintelligible nonsense. We cannot imagine that the
spirit of God would have made him utter contradictions, or inspired him
with a language incomprehensible to those whom he designed to enlighten
and instruct by the mouth of this Apostle. In fact, St. Peter himself
complains of the obscurities of Paul's epistles, in which, says he, "are
some things hard to be understood."*

     * 2 Epis. Peter, chap. iii. ver. 16

The distinction which we have just made will enable us to judge of the
works of St. Paul, and explain the obscurities which we find in them,
as well as the continual variations, which we must remark in his
principles. He tells the Galatians that he was angry with Peter, and
withstood him to his face, and that he was offended, with the other
apostles, because they temporized and used dissimulation, sometimes
advocating the usages of the Jews, and at others the customs of the
Gentiles*.

Elsewhere he says (here see 1 Corinthians, chap. ix. ver. 19 to 22.)
According to these passages, is it right to temporize, or not? It
remains for our doctors to decide which of these two principles has been
divinely inspired to St. Paul, and in which of them we ought to imitate
this great Saint. Our doctors however are not much in the habit of
temporizing with their enemies unless they find themselves, too weak to
cope with them.

Our Apostle declares, formally to the Galatians that circumcision,
is useless and will avail them nothing, he says the same thing to the
Corinthians, Yet we find him circumcising his dear Timothy, and he tells
the Romans that circumcision is useful to those who fulfil the law.

He writes to Timothy, that God is the saviour of all men expecially of
the faithful, which evidently supposes that the unfaithful, will not
be excluded from Salvation. He had also said, that God willed that all
should be saved. But speaking to the Romans, he will not allow that the
gates of Paradise, shall be opened to all the world**.

     * Galatians chap. ii. ver. 11, &c.

     **  Romans, chap. xi. ver. 7.

We should never finish, were we to relate all the contradictions which
are to be found in the writings attributed to St. Paul. It is clear
that if he be really the author of them, he exhibits himself to us, as a
fanatical writer, whose disordered head prevents him from seeing that
he is eternally contradicting himself. He says that black is white.
He follows only the impulses of a heated imagination; he establishes
principles to destroy them immediately; in a word from his want of
logic, and the little connexion of his ideas without a most lively faith
we should suspect, that he was in a continual state of delirium.

It cannot be denied that this great Saint was of a temperament too
ardent to allow him to reason connectedly, or to speak with coolness.
The tumultuous ideas which presented themselves in crowds to his
brain, did not permit him to put them into any thing like an orderly
arrangement; he incessantly wandered from his subject, so much so that
an imagination, as warm as his own, is necessary in order to follow
him in his flights. Perpetually involved in figures, allusions
and allegories, it is nearly impossible to guess what are his real
sentiments. According to his doctrine he appears to establish in the
strongest manner the dreadful doctrine of absolute predestination and
reprobation. According to him God grants grace to whom he pleases,
and whom he pleases he hardens. If we demand how this doctrine can
be reconciled with the goodness and justice of God; or how a God who
operates in man the will and the deed, can be offended with the wills
and actions of men? He extricates himself by asking if the vessel shall
say to him who made it, why hast thou fashioned me thus? Thus St. Paul,
and after him all Christian doctors, explain the conduct of a God,
whom they pretend to love, at the same time that they hold him up as
a tyrant, who is not accountable for his most unjust caprices, and
despot-like is restrained by no rule!

St. Paul being divinely inspired should have taught us something of the
nature of the soul, an object which so embarrasses alt philosophers who
not being illumined from above, have formed ideas upon this subject,
so much at variance with those of our Christian doctors. But far from
throwing any light upon this important matter, our Apostle, who appears
strongly tinctured with the platonic philosophy so universally taught in
his time, distinguishes the body, soul and spirit, and thus obscures the
thing still more. But it is the essense of theology to confound
every thing, and the interest of theologians to plunge mankind into a
labyrinth, from which nothing but faith can extricate them.



CHAPTER XX. Of Faith, in what this Virtue consists

Generally speaking it is St. Paul, or the author of the Epistles,
(wherever he be) that are attributed to him, that ought to be regarded
as the true founder of Christian theology. The mysterious obscurity
of his works, the tone of fanaticism which reigns in them, and the
unintelligible oracles with which they are filled, render them well
suited to impose on the vulgar, who respect things only in proportion
as they are impossible to be comprehended. Devout enthusiasm and pious
melancholy there finds a continual feast for its sickly brain. Oracles
and enigmas are taken for divine mysteries, which without a strong
dose of faith we should conclude were the production of delirium or the
inventions of imposture, which seeks to put reason to flight. Reason had
no means of examining ideas which are totally unreasonable; thus they
persuaded men that it was necessary to renounce reason in order
to become a good Christian. In consequence of this principle, so
humiliating to mankind and derogatory to the character of a God, the
author of reason, it was no longer permitted to examine anything;
man was commanded blindly to subscribe to the most incomprehensible
reveries, and it was considered meritorious to renounce common sense
and adopt fables and opinions revolting to every thinking being. Thus
delirium was changed into wisdom, deception into truth, and frequently
crime became virtue. They closed the mouths of reasoners by citing the
language of Paul, who had said "that the foolishness of God is wiser
than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." According to
the same Apostle God himself had predicted by the mouth of a prophet,
the revolution that Christianity was to produce in the minds of mankind.
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the
understanding of the prudent." Where is the wise? Where is the scribe?
where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the
wisdom of this world, &c.* And he concludes by saying, "But we preach
Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks
foolishness."

     * 1 Corinth, chap. i. ver. 19.

However violent Paul's enthusiasm may have been, he well knew how odd
the doctrine he preached, must appear to reasonable beings. He must have
been aware, that it overturned all received ideas; that it would not
bear the test of examination; that it was a difficult enterprise to
persuade sensible beings that a God could die, that this God had arisen
again, that an immutable God had changed and annulled the eternal
alliance he had made with the Jews, and which been so repeatedly
confirmed with oaths, &c. Thus our Apostle in order to pass such
improbable opinions, believed it requisite, to substitute folly in the
place of reason, and to fortify his disciples against the weapons of
logic. For the evidence which results from the testimony of the senses
be substituted faith, which according to him is the evidence of things
not seen, and evidence which can only be founded on the most stupid
credulity.

Thus this prudent orator took care to guard against the philosophy of
common sense, and against all science, seeing clearly that they opposed,
invincible obstacles to the religion that he sought to establish, and of
which he pretended to be the soul and chief. Hence we find he attached
the greatest merit to faith, that is to say, to a blind submission to
his authority; and such an unbounded confidence in himself as prevented
any doubt of those things, the truth of which he attested.

As science was injurious to the establishment of his empire he decried
it. "Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth." By charity, we may
here understand that affection to a spiritual director which closing
the eyes against those defects, which in common with other men he may
possess, convinces us that he is always right, that he is incapable
of the wish to deceive, and in short, that he ought to be believed in
preference to the evidence of our senses.

It is thus that this great Apostle laboured incessantly to establish his
own authority on the ruins of wisdom, reason, and science. However we
may reply to his doctrine, so useful to those whose interest it is
to maintain absurd opinions and incredible fables, that God who, is,
according to them, the author of reason could not have destroyed his own
work. We shall demand of St. Paul and of those who like him preach
up implicit faith, if folly is more able than wisdom to attain to the
knowledge of God? We shall ask of them, if God has given wisdom to men
on condition of their never using it, and if it is not by the aid of
human wisdom, that man gains some idea of the divine wisdom? We shall
ask if God can, without absolutely changing the nature of things, make
wisdom folly, and folly wisdom? In short we shall ask them, if in order
to become a Christian it is necessary to renounce common sense, or how
far our folly must prevail to have a religion?

To all these questions theologians, faithfully treading in the steps
of St. Paul, will reply, that we must believe, and that as soon as they
speak, we must submit to their authority. "Faith" says Paul "comes
by hearing," whence it results that have faith, we must sacrifice our
reason, to the wills of our spiritual pastors. Charity ought to convince
us, that these infallible guides, can neither deceive nor desire to lead
us into error.

According to this firm persuasion we shall never be embarrassed, unless,
by chance, those pastors should happen to disagree in their opinions.
This however often occurs in the church, and has done from the
commencement. In fact we have seen St. Paul himself resist St. Peter to
his face and differ from him in opinion. Their quarrels like many others
had fatal results, and produced a true schism between the partizans of
Peter, and those of Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles.

The latter has acknowledged himself, that there must be heresies in
a church, perpetually guided by the most high. This prophecy has been
verified in the Christian religion, which from its foundation has been
incessantly agitated by quarrels, divisions, animosities, troubles, and
paroxysms of fury mat would induce a belief, that the gospel was given
to nations only to excite in them, fermentations unknown to Paganism,
and show them to what a degree of madness credulity could lead.

The writings of Paul especially have furnished in all ages ample matter,
for disputes to the Christian doctors. The obscure dogmas they contain,
have of necessity been diversely understood by profound dreamers, who
have passed their time in meditation. Each pretended to have discovered
the true sense of this infallible and divinely inspired doctor. Each
found in his writings a confirmation of his own sentiments. Works filled
with contradiction continually gave rise to parties the most opposite to
each other, and virulently bent upon mutual destruction. The authority
of St. Paul was opposed to himself, and in the impossibility of deciding
upon questions totally out of the power of reason to discuss, recourse
was had to violence, and the strongest always made the weak feel,
that they alone comprehended the true sense of the great Apostle. They
disputed continually on predestination, on grace, and on the liberty
of man; they understood neither themselves nor St. Paul. The most
headstrong, the most wicked, and the most powerful, enforced their
opinions as the only ones which the Holy Ghost had dictated.

To conclude, the incredulous, are not those, who alone find the writings
of Paul obscure and unintelligible, as we have seen in the the case
of St. Peter already quoted. If this prince of the Apostles founded
difficulties in the work of St. Paul, what shall we think of the
presumption of modern commentators when they pretend to explain to us,
the enigmatical and confused passages that we meet with in the epistles
of this doctor of the Gentiles.



CHAPTER XXI. Of the Holy Ghost, and Divine Inspiration

It would however have been wiser in the first instance to examine into
the degree of confidence due to the real or pretended writings of this
wonderful man, whose history we have been developing. Before disputing
it would have been better to have been certain of the authority of an
Apostle whose works appear to us infallible only on his own word, or on
that of the written to whom we owe the Acts of the Apostles. In fact we
are told that St. Paul was inspired by the Holy Ghost. But what is the
Holy Ghost? How can it inspire a man? What certainty have we that it has
ever inspired anyone? By what signs shall we distinguish these invisible
inspirations? As it is upon these inspirations only that the Christian
religion is established, these questions are well worth the trouble of
being discussed.

There is no mention made of the Holy Ghost in the Old Testament; there
is mention made of the spirit of the Lord, which possessed, or resided
in the prophets, and other holy personages charged with speaking to the
Jewish people; but in no place of the Old Testament is the Holy Ghost
announced as a being distinct from the Divinity, it is only in the New
Testament that we find this metaphysical being deified, or this divine
breath personified. In fact it is only in the history of Jesus Christ,
that the Holy Ghost begins to perform, a part; we there find him
commissioned to overshadow Mary, and produce the savour of the world,
who was, as we are told, begotten by the operation of the Holy Ghost.

This same Holy Ghost descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus Christ
at the moment of his baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist.
In the Gospel according to St. John, the author of which appears to have
drawn his ideas from the platonic philosophy, there is much talk of the
Holy Ghost which is never defined. Jesus promises to send him to the
disciples when he himself shall have left them. This spirit is described
under term of the Paraclete or Comforter. Jesus assures them that he
proceeded from the father, and that he will send him on the part of the
father, to bear witness of him Jesus. Further on he promises them, that
when this spirit shall come, he shall guide them into all truth.

According to the promise of Jesus, this comforter did in fact descend
upon the Apostles at the feast of Pentecost, see Acts ari. ver. 2, 3,
13. Many were astonished at the prodigy there related, but it seems not
to have convinced others, who had probably less faith than the first.
These sceptics pretended that the inspired Apostles were drunken with
new wine. But Peter filled with the spirit, made them a long prophetic
harangue; which, according to the author of the Acts, produced a great
effect upon many of his hearers, who were converted upon the spot.

In consequence of the descent of the Holy Ghost, the Apostles received
the power, not only of speaking divers tongues, but likewise of driving
out devils and performing miracles. However we do not find by their
history, though written by one favourable to their cause, that the
Holy Ghost gave them the power to cast out the demon of incredulity,
especially from tbe minds of the Jews; these resisted constantly the
Holy Ghost and made those who said they were filled with it, to suffer
cruel treatment.

Tbe Apostles had not only received the Holy Ghost, but they had also
received the power of communicating it to others by the imposition of
hands. It is difficult, without a submissive faith, to conceive a clear
idea of this invisible communication of tbe Holy Ghost, or the manner
in which an indivisible spirit, divides itself among so many
different individuals. However it is not allowed us to doubt that
this transmission of tbe Holy Ghost has been perpetuated down from the
Apostles to our time. It is still by imposition of hands that the guides
of the Christian Church receive the Holy Ghost, and the right to teach.
If our bishops and and priests who represent in our eyes the Apostles
and disciples, have not received the gift of tongues and miracles they
have, at least, received the faculty of pretending, that the Holy Ghost
does not cease to illuminate them, in their frequently contradictory
decisions, which ought to be regarded as a great prodigy.

A Christian would run the risk of being damned if he should dare to
doubt, that the Holy Ghost invisibly presided in the church and will
reside in the brains of its chiefs until the consummation of all things.
What can be more calculated to inspire us with regard and respect for
those, who themselves assure us, that they are the living temples of
the Holy Ghost. In gratitude for these advantages which the Holy
Ghost procured to the ministers of the Christian religion, they felt
themselves bound to deify him. It was tbe least they could do for a
being from whom their power clearly emanated. In fact if the Holy Ghost,
charged with inspiring the church had not been a God, the authority of
the church might have been contested. But it being clearly decided,
that the Holy Ghost is a God, men are no longer permitted to dispute his
rights; it only remains to them to subscribe blindly to tbe decisions of
those whom he has chosen for his organs; to contradict them, would be to
revolt against God.

We see then how important it was to tbe heads of the church to
apotheosise the Holy Ghost. It was necessary to make him a God at
any rate; otherwise the church would not have been infallible, its
infallibility being founded, solely on the continued inspirations of the
Holy Ghost; and that he himself should be infallible, it was necessary
that he should be a God. Thus the church has wisely made the God which
makes her infallible.

However useful this deification was to the church, it was attended with
some difficulties. In fact how could they reconcile this new God, this
Mercury, this messenger of the father and son, with the unity of God?
To cut short all dispute upon so important a matter, the heads of the
church decided that the Holy Ghost proceeded from the father and son,
and yet made but one God with them. They closed the mouths of those
who cried out against this unintelligible oracle, by saying it was a
mystery, that man was made to adore and believe, without being able to
comprehend; they added that the church was infallible had thus decided,
that being inspired by the Holy Ghost (i.e. by a God) it was impossible
to avoid believing that she had the right to decide, that the Holy Ghost
was a God.

This is sufficient to show us upon what the authority of church, and the
divinity of the Holy Ghost is founded. The church has deified the Holy
Ghost, and the divinity of the Holy Ghost serves as the basis of
the authority of the church. We thus see the true foundations of
Ecclesiastical power; we see the solidity of the titles of the church,
we see the true origin of the mystery of the trinity, now held in such
veneration by the faithful. In short we see what we ought to think of
the inspirations of the Holy Ghost from the time of its origin until
now.



CHAPTER XXII. Of the Inspiration of the Prophets of the Old Testament

It does not appear, as we have already observed, that the Jews had
any precise ideas of the Holy Ghost similar to those of the Christian
theologians. Moreover there is reason to believe, that the Apostles had
not yet imagined such subtle notions of it, as the church has invented
since their time. Amongst the Hebrews, every man who, during his sleep,
had dreams, every enthusiast who had, or pretended to have visions,
believed himself inspired by the Lord, or at least gave himself out as
such. He regarded the fancies of his brain, as warnings from heaven; he
delivered his pious nonsense as oracles to credulous hearers, who did
not doubt for an instant, that the unintelligible delirium of these
harangues, was the effect of some divine illumination from the Almighty.
As in dreams, madness, in ebriation, in enthusiasm, man does not appear
master of himself, they believed that what he uttered in these divers
states must, of necessity, spring, from some supernatural force acting
in him, without his knowledge, and in spite of himself; the sentences
and discourse, which issued from his mouth, were regarded as
inspirations from on high, and received as divine commands. Their
obscurity only served to excite curiosity, redouble terror, and confuse
the imagination. It was supposed that God, who spoke by these demoniacs,
did not choose to express himself in a clearer manner.

These reflections founded upon the nature of credulous, ignorant, and
superstitious men, may serve to fix our ideas of so many prophets and
jugglers, that we see play such a prominent part, not only in Jewish
history, but in all Pagan antiquity, and even among all savage and
uninformed people that are now scattered over the globe. The trade of
prophesying, appears to have been very lucrative and respectable amongst
the Jews, a people degraded by superstition, and whose priests always
took care to keep them in a state of profound ignorance, and credulity,
well-suited for the ends of those who sought to direct them after
their own fancies. Whoever desired to gain the attention of the Jews,
announced himself as inspired, threatened or promised them in the name
of the Lord, prophesied to them of evils calculated to intimidate, or
of happy events which seduced them into belief. To draw the attention of
the public, and frequently to produce revolutions in the state, it was
enough for a prophet to say gravely, that the Lord had spoken to him;
and assure them that heaven had intrusted him with its designs in a
vision; thus the brains of the Jews were put into a fermentation. The
Apostles desirous of establishing reform, or exciting a revolution, in
men's minds, felt the necessity of conforming to the prevailing liste of
the nation. In consequence they erected themselves into prophets,
gave themselves out for inspired, spoke in an obscure manner, uttered
oracles, predicted the end of the world, they preached a messiah, they
announced a kingdom in which their followers would enjoy a happiness,
which their subjugated country had long since been deprived of. In short
to prove the truth of their predictions, and the legitimacy of their
mission, they performed miracles, i.e. works calculated to astonish so
credulous a people as the Jews.

The Jews, however, in spite of all their ignorance, did not suffer
themselves to be convinced by either the harangues and miracles of
Jesus, nor by the preachings and prodigies of his Apostles. All their
efforts failed against the hardness of heart of a people so often the
dupe of the numberless inspired who had so successfully deceived them.
There is then reason to think that Jesus and his disciples did not
perform their part well, or else that in their time, the Jews become
more cautious, had not so much faith as their ancestors had formerly
exhibited. Indeed we do not find that the first preachers of
Christianity made much impression upon their fellow citizens; they had
much more success, and Paul especially amongst idolators, for whom their
enthusiastic harangues, their preachings, and miracles was a more novel
spectacle. Amongst the Gentiles preaching was an unknown thing, the
people was held in disdain by the priests; each formed such ideas of
religion as he choose, there was no theological system that they were
compelled to adopt; in short, with the exception of Esculapius, the Gods
worked but few miracles for their worshippers.

Thus, as we have already observed, circumstances were favourable for the
mission of our Apostle amongst the Gentiles; they were more disposed
to listen than the Jews, and to regard him who performed such wonders
before them, as an extraordinary man favoured by heaven. In fact St.
Paul gave himself out for such. And how can we doubt the veracity of a
man who performs miracles? It was then necessary to give him credit;
and without having seen these miracles we believe the same thing, and
especially his divine inspiration, upon the authority of the writings,
attributed to him, and upon the word of him who has transmitted to us
an account of his actions in the Acts of the Apostles, works which the
church enjoins us to regard as divinely inspired. It would be, I think,
useless to make any long reflections on the validity of the titles of
the church, and the right, that the writings which she has adopted have
to the claim of divine inspiration. It is enough to remark, that if we
admit those titles and rights, we have no reason to refuse also to admit
those of any man, or body of men, which shall give themselves out as
divinely inspired. If, on the word of Paul, we believe that he was
inspired, why shall we not have the same deference for the word of
Mahomet, who pretended to be the sent of the most high? If, after the
decision of the Christian church, we regard the books contained in
the New Testament as dictated by the Holy Ghost; what right have we to
refuse our assent to the decision of the body of Imans and Mollahs,
that the Koran was revealed by the angel Gabriel to Mahomet? if it be
permitted to one man, or body of men, to invest themselves with titles,
and at the same time forbid the titles to be investigated, we shall be
obliged to admit all the reveries, extravagancies, and fables that we
see spread over the various countries of the earth. Priests every where
show us books, which they say were inspired by the divinity, and weak
and silly people adore and and follow without examination books thus
announced. All religions in the world are founded upon sacred hooks
which contain the divine will, and whose truth is proved by miracles.



CHAPTER. XXIII. Of the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles, or
their Divine Inspiration

If we may believe the author of the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples
assembled at Jerusalem on the the day of Pentecost, were filled with the
Holy Ghost. But by what sign shall we be sure that they were filled with
the Holy Ghost? It is this that they began to speak divers languages.
But do these various languages prove the presence of the Holy Ghost?
Could not the disciples of Jesus speak these languages naturally?
However the Jews who had come from the different provinces of Asia to
Jerusalem to celebrate the feast all understood Hebrew, since it was
the language in which their law was written; nothing more then was
requisite but to speak Hebrew, in order to be understood by all of
them; we cannot suppose that men assembled at Jerusalem to celebrate the
Pentecost were Gentiles. That granted of what use was the gift tongues?
In supposing that among the Jews there were some who only understood
Greek, which was at that time universal over all Asia, it is very
possible that without a miracle, some of the disciples or Apostles,
might know this language by the aid of which they could make themselves
understood in most of the provinces mentioned in the Acts of the
Apostles.

There is then reason for believing, that the Apostles and disciples
were on this occasion desirous of passing for inspired. With this view,
according to the practice of the diviners and prophets amongst
the Jews, they made noises contortions, cries, &c, and produced an
extravagant cacophony, which, many well disposed persons mistook for
undoubted sign of inspiration, while those who were less credulous took
them for certain proofs of drunkenness or folly. But St. Peter justified
them, and showed that what they received to be extravagancies ought to
be considered as proofs of inspiration. This he confirmed by quoting a
prophecy of the prophet Joel, (see Acts of Apostles, chap. ii. ver. 17.)

But the question at issue is, whether visions, dreams, extravagancies,
&c. are signs of divine inspiration. It is true that from the contents
of the books, which Christians regard as dictated by the Holy Ghost, and
examining the nonsense and contradictions found in the writings of St.
Paul, we should be tempted to believe so. If the absence of reason,
probability, logic, and harmony, is the distinguishing mark of divine
inspiration, we cannot deny that St. Paul has proved himself, by his
writings, to have been divinely inspired.

However at this rate nothing can be more easy than to pass; for
inspired. If madness be a sufficient qualification to cause a man to be
regarded as one filled with the Holy Ghost, there are many men who have
just pretensions to this faculty. If we doubt it they have only to
reply gravely that God hath confounded the wisdom of the wise; that our
rebellious reason ought to be submissive, that the human mind becomes
perverted by reasoning. Such is however the language continually
repeated by the supporters of St. Paul and Christianity. According to
them, wisdom is folly, reason an uncertain guide, common sense useless,
and contradictions are impenetrable mysteries, which we must adore
in silence; and when our mind loses itself in the abyss of folly and
imposture, they cry out with their great Apostle: "Oh! the depth of the
riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are
his ways, and his judgments past finding out!" A lucky quibble of which
our theologians avail themselves with success, in order to escape from
the embarrassment into which they are thrown by any reasoning on the
ways of providence.

It is thus that those who pretend to inspiration have the boldness to
outrage the Divinity, and make the Holy Ghost the accomplice of their
blasphemies. When they find it impossible to escape from the labyrinth
into which impostures and ill-contrived fables have led them, they make
God responsible for their extravagancies; they pretend that their
own follies are the effects of divine wisdom, they term their own
perplexities mysteries; and assent that the author of reason is at the
same time, the enemy of reason.

Men however are not shocked by these impious propositions. Accustomed
to regard St. Paul as inspired, it never occurs to them that so great a
Saint may blaspheme. But what authority have Christians for their high
opinion of St. Paul? It is the Acts of the Apostles, that is to say upon
the suspected testimony of a partizan of Paul's sect, who has compiled
a history of his hero, filled with contradictions, but embellished with
prodigies and fable, which however serve to establish his romance.
But what proofs have we of these miracles themselves? We have no
other evidence than the word of the Romancer himself confirmed by
the authority of the church, i.e. of a body of men interested in
establishing the fable.

It is true that we have in addition the testimony of St. Paul himself,
to whom are attributed the epistles in which are found a great number of
details of his life. But does this Apostle agree with his historian
in his own narrative? No, doubtless, they vary materially in many
circumstances, and frequently contradict each other in the most positive
manner. Who then shall we find to reconcile them, and show us what we
ought to think of a history so differently related? The church. But
what is the church? A body composed of the spiritual guides of the
Christians. Have these guides been witnesses of the actions and miracles
so differently related by Paul and his historian? No; they know nothing
of them but by a tradition, contested even in the times of the first
Christians, but since confirmed by a revelation of the Holy Ghost, who
never, according to them, ceases to enlighten his church. How are we
to know if the church is continually inspired? She herself says so, and
there is, she says, the greatest danger in doubting this. It would be to
resist the Holy Ghost who is identified with the church, and who makes
common cause with her; a crime which will never be forgiven either
in this world or in the next. Of all sins the most unpardonable is to
resist the clergy.



CHAPTER XXIV. General reflections on the foundations of Christian Faith,
and on the Causes of Credulity

These then are the only foundations of faith! Christians are obliged to
believe that St. Paul was neither an enthusiast nor a cheat, because the
church has decided that he was divinely inspired: the church has decided
this important point of belief, according to the Acts of the Apostles
and epistles, which, as we have shown, were both rejected by many sects
of the primitive Christians, and which, as we have proved in the course
of this work, are filled with contradictions and absurdities.

Nevertheless no Christian now dares to doubt of the authenticity of
these books. These works are regarded as sacred by the universal church,
by Christians of all sects, who with the exception notwithstanding of
some considerable and important variations, read them in the same manner
and entertain for them the same veneration. What can we oppose to this
unanimity? The example of Mahomet. This prophet who is at this day
equally revered by all sects of Mussulmen, was at first regarded as an
impostor at Mecca, whence he was compelled to fly. His Koran now
become the rule and code of a clergy, supported by princes and powerful
nations, was at first considered as a tissue of fables compiled by
imposture. This unanimity of the Mahometans, in acknowledging the
sanctity of Mahomet, and the divinity of the Koran proves no more in
their favour, than the agreement of all sects of Christians in admitting
the Saintship of Paul, and the inspiration of his writings, proves in
favour of the Apostle and his wonderful epistles.

It is the property of habit to change the appearance of things, men by
degrees become familiar with that which at first disgusted them; time is
able to confound truth and falsehood; clearly proved deceptions, finish
by becoming undoubted facts to the ignorant, the idle, and those either
too much occupied, or involved in dissipation to examine, and these are
the majority of mankind. The most palpable imposture when it has existed
a length of time, acquires a solidity which nothing can shake: that
which has been believed by many for ages appears to have a real
foundation, and to have at least a claim to probability. When once time
has obliterated the traces of imposture, they are difficult to detect,
and most men find it easier to stick to received opinions than to
undergo the painful task of examining what they ought to think.

Such are the true causes of the indolence that men generally show,
as often as they are called upon to give a reason for their religious
notions, they are contented to follow the current. Besides when
prejudice is supported by force, and becomes necessary to the interests
of a powerful body, it is dangerous to combat it, and few men have tbe
courage to oppose deceptions, approved by the world, and authorised by
the governing powers.

On the other hand error, when habitual passes for truth, and is equally
agreeable. We hold fast to our vices and prejudices, the virtues and
opinions which are opposed to them, appear ridiculous or disagreeable.
It is this natural disposition of the human, species, which, by little
and little, imbue nations with the most extravagant opinions, absurd
fables, and ill-digested systems.

No, artifice was; ever better imagined, nor trick was ever more
calculated to deceive the vulgar than that of divine inspiration. Upon
this is founded all the religions in tbe world; it is to this marvellous
invention that the priests of tbe whole earth are indebted for their
authority, their riches, and their existence. When a man tells us,
that he is divinely inspired, it is difficult for most men to ascertain
whether he lie, or speak the truth. God never contradicts those who
make him speak, on tbe contrary those impostors who deceive in his
name generally perform miracles and prodigies, and these miracles and
prodigies, are to tbe short sighted multitude undoubted signs of divine
favor.

Shall we then judge those who are inspired by their conduct? They
generally take care to impose on us by their disinterestedness,
patience, and mildness of behaviour, and it can hardly be supposed that
such moderate men could have formed the design of deceiving or gaining
power. It is only when they have gently insinuated themselves into men's
minds, that we find ambition, avarice, and passions of the missionary
develope themselves: it is after having won over the multitude, that
their empire discovers itself; and they exact with pride, the tribute
and respect due to the organs of heaven, and the messengers of the most
high.

These are the means by which Christianity has been established, the
manoeuvres have been practised by our great Apostle, and all those who
have assisted in disseminating his doctrine. His own experience
often made Paul sensible, that his pride and fiery disposition, were
frequently obstacles to his mission; thus we see him sometimes doa
violence to his character, take the air of mildness and humility, so
much better suited, to insinuate into mens good opinions than arrogance
and pride. He only assumes the tone of tbe master, when he knows his
ground; then he threatens, thunders, and displays his authority. Does
a dispute arise between himself and an associate? He resists him to his
face; he makes the church feel how necessary he is to the cause; and
avails himself of it, to exhibit his authority, His example has been at
all times faithfully followed by the heads of the Christian religion.
Humble, mild, patient, tolerant, and disinterested whenever they have
been weak, they become haughty, quarrelsome, intolerant, avaricious,
and rebellious subjects to princes whenever they were certain of their
empire over the people. It was then that they prescribed laws, crushed
their enemies, plundered the people, and caused kings to tremble at the
name of the God whose interpreters they declared themselves to be.

The heads of the Christian religion have at all times made those
opinions, most comfortable to their own interest pass for divine
oracles. The Holy Ghost has had no other function, than to serve for a
cloak to their intrigues, passions, and pretensions. The works of our
Apostle furnished quarrelsome priests with arguments for injuring
each other; his disjointed reveries, his obscure mysteries, and his
ambiguous oracles, were an arsenal whence the most opposite parties
procured arms to combat incessantly. In short the writings inspired by a
God who was desirous of instructing mankind, have only served to plunge
nations in darkness. Guides enlightened by the Holy Ghost saw no clearer
than the ignorant, into mysteries, they continually presented to them by
an unintelligible system. These great doctors were agreed upon nothing,
each one sought to gain adherents whom he excited against the enemies
of his own opinions, which he regarded as those only approved by heaven.
Thence arose animosities, hatred, persecutions, and wars, which have
a thousand times spread trouble and desolation among Christians, blind
enough to follow men who pretended to be led by the Holy Ghost, while
it was evident, that the only spirit which inspired them, was that of
pride, ambition, obstinacy, vengeance, avarice, and rebellion.



CONCLUSION.

Let us then be careful, oh! my friends, of allowing ourselves to be
guided by inspired persons. Deceivers, or enthusiasts, they will only
lead us into errors destructive of our peace. Let us consult reason, so
decried by men, whose interest it is to extinguish a light which is able
to show us the plots of their dark policy, this reason will inform us
that contradictory works do not merit our belief; that a turbulent,
ambitious and enthusiastic Apostle, may have been a very useful Saint to
the church, and a very bad citizen. This reason will convince us, that
a God filled with wisdom could never inspire men with systems, in which
folly is the most prominent feature; that a God who is the author of
reason could never have called for its immolation, before the shrine of
fable, and pretended mystery incapable of producing any thing but evil
and dissension upon the earth. Let us be just, benevolent, peaceable,
let us leave to St. Paul, and to those who take him for a model, their
lofty ambition, their turbulent fanaticism, their obstinate vanity,
their persecuting spirit, and above all things their bitter zeal, which
they term an interest for the salvation of souls. Let us show to all men
not an evangelic charity which is converted into fury and hatred, but
a real charity which inspires us with love, peace, indulgence, and
humanity. May this charity so much boasted of, and so little practised,
by St. Paul and his successors, be the rule of our conduct, and the
standard of our judgments on men and their opinions. Examine all
things, and hold fast that which is good. Let us not be blinded by the
prejudices, of infancy, of habit, or of authority. Let us not be imposed
upon by the pompous names of Paul, of Cephas, or of Apollos; but let
us seek the truth and follow reason, which can never lead astray, nor
render us troublesome members of society.

FINIS.





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