AFTER the death of Stephen, Saul continued his work of persecution with increasing bitterness. Having in some way learned that there were disciples in Damascus, he went to the high priest, and obtained letters authorizing him to seize and bring to Jerusalem, any believers in Christ whom he might find dwelling in that distant city, whether men or women. Now it was not because Saul had such a cruel disposition, that he wished to imprison or put to death these peaceable disciples; but he was brought up a Pharisee of the strictest kind, and he held it to be a religious duty to put down what he believed to be a false faith, and one that was leading many into error and deception. He was, no doubt, proud and haughty, and in Acts 26:11 he says he had become "exceeding mad" at them; yet the violence of his persecution was probably due to the energy of his character rather than to a vindictive spirit.

Having obtained the necessary papers and a suitable escort, he took up his journey to Damascus; but on coming near that place, about noon, a great light, brighter even than the midday sun of that burning clime, shone about him, causing both him and his companions to fall to the ground. While thus prostrated, Saul saw the form of the Lord Jesus Christ, who said to him in piercing tones, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?" Then Saul said, "Who art thou, Lord?" and he said, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest."

"But rise and stand upon thy feet; for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou halt seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee, delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in me."

The haughty spirit of Saul was now completely subdued, and he said in meekness, and with trembling,

"Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Jesus answering, said, "Go into Damascus, and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do?"

The men that were with Saul, saw the light, but did not see Jesus; and although they heard a voice, they could not understand what was said. When the vision and the light had passed away, Saul's attendants could see, as before; but he was totally blind, and had to be led by the hand, as he went into the city. For three days he could see nothing. During this time he was left to meditate upon his past errors, to think of the mercy of God toward him, and to wonder what his future work would be. But he was not left alone in these hours of sorrow. The Lord gave him a vision, in which he was shown a man named Ananias, who was to come to him, and restore his sight.

At the same time, the Lord was preparing Ananias for the part, which he was to act. Of this Ananias it is said, that he was "a devout man, according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews that dwelt there." The Bible speaks of him merely as a disciple, and gives us no clue to his rank, or to his office, if he had any. To this man the Lord appeared in a vision, and told him to go into a street called Straight, where he was to inquire at the house of one Judas for a man called Saul, of Tarsus; "For," said the Lord, "he hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hands on him, that he might receive his sight." Then said Ananias, "Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to the saints at Jerusalem; and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name." Yet the Lord told Ananias to go; for, said

he, speaking of Saul, "He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel; for I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake." Ananias, notwithstanding his fears, obeyed the vision; and when he had found Saul, and put his hands upon him, he said, " Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou earnest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost." As soon as these words were spoken, there fell from Saul's eyes as it had been scales, and his sight was immediately restored.

Then said Ananias to Saul, "The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldst know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldst hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard. And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."

After this, Saul partook of food, and was strengthened. He remained some days with the disciples at Damascus, and began at once to preach to the Jews in their synagogues that Jesus of Nazareth was the Son of God.