But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,…
I. THE SOURCE WHENCE HIS RELIGIOUS IMPRESSIONS WERE DERIVED. What does Paul mean to teach us when he says that he was called? He means that it was not he who first came to the Master, but that having been called to Him, he obeyed; that he did not spontaneously seek and find, but that he was found when he was wandering; that it was not he who first looked up to the light, but the light which sent its rays upon his vision, and having closed his outward, opened his inward eyes.
II. HIS DESTINATION TO THE APOSTOLIC OFFICE.
1. That this commission was co-incident with his conversion, and he became a successful advocate of the truth he once opposed. The suddenness of his preparation for the office strikes us as much as the suddenness of his call to it; and his history teaches us that Christ is at no loss for instruments in the advancement of His cause. If the interests of religion require some distinguished champion, He reverses the ordinary laws of procedure, and goes down to the camp of the enemy, and fixing His eye upon the hope and pride of all their hosts, converts him from a foe into a friend, and presents him to the world as a trophy of His power, and a successful herald of His praise. Christ rules "in the midst of His enemies," and from the very stones that threaten to impede his triumphal march, "can raise up children to Abraham." Luther was educated as a monk in the University of Wittemburg, and was so eager an upholder of the existing system, that he publicly defended, in a thesis, the martyrdom of John Huss. He was, even after his conversion, long reluctant to throw off the authority of the Pope; yet this man was the instrument of the emancipation of Europe, and, once engaged, as Atterbury has observed, against the united forces of the papal world, stood the shock with bravery and success. "I was," says Latimer, "as obstinate a papist as any in England, and when made Bachelor of Divinity, my whole oration went against Philip Melancthon and his opinions." Soame Jenyns was for many years a deist, yet, after emerging from a labyrinth of scepticism, he wrote an ingenious work on the internal evidences of the Christian religion, the success of which gave him much joy on his death-bed. The late Mr. Biddulph, in his work on the Liturgy, states of Gilbert West, and his friend Lord Lyttleton, that they were both men of acknowledged talents, and had imbibed the principles of infidelity from a superficial view of the Scriptures. Fully persuaded that the system was an imposture, they were determined to expose the cheat. Mr. West chose the Resurrection of Christ, and Lord Lyttleton the Conversion of St. Paul, for the subject of hostile criticism, Both sat down to their respective tasks, full of prejudice and contempt for Christianity, but the result of their separate attempts was truly extraordinary. They were both converted by their efforts to overthrow the truth, and came together, not as they anticipated, to exult over an imposture turned to ridicule, but to lament their own folly, and felicitate each other upon their joint conviction that the Bible was the Word of God. And their inquiries have furnished two most valuable treatises in favour of revelation: one entitled, "Observations on the Resurrection of Christ," and the other, "Observations on the Conversion of St. Paul." "This also cometh forth from the Lord of Hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working."
2. That the decision and energy he displayed in the service of Christ are worthy of universal imitation. "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood." In the concerns of salvation flesh and blood are very bad counsellors. Flesh and blood would have kept the three Hebrew youths from the fiery furnace; Abraham from offering the child of promise, etc.
Parallel VersesKJV: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,