-- G. K. Chesterton, Charles Dickens
- - - - - - - - - -Herein is Saint Paul's conversion memorable: that it was a triumph over the enemy. When Almighty God would convert the world, opening the door of faith to the Gentiles, who was the chosen preacher of this mystery? Not one of Christ's first followers. To show his power, he put forth his hand into the very midst of the persecutors of his Son, and seized upon the most strenuous among them. The prayer of a dying man, Stephen, is the token and occasion of that triumph which he had reserved for himself. His strength is made perfect in weakness.
It was a triumph over the enemies of Christ; but it was also an expressive emblem of the nature of God's general dealings with the race of man. What are we all but rebels against God and enemies of the truth? Who then could so appropriately fulfill the purpose of him who came to call sinners to repentance, as one who esteemed himself the least of the apostles, that was not meet to be called an apostle, because he had persecuted the Church of God? When Almighty God in his infinite mercy purposed to form a people to himself out of the heathen, as vessels for this glory, first he chose the instrument of this his purpose as a brand from the burning, to be a type of the rest.
-- John Henry Newman, Plain and Parochial Sermons II, 97-98