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Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.)


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26. And the angel. Luke passeth over unto a new history, to wit, how the gospel came even unto the Ethiopians. For though he reporteth there was but one man converted unto the faith of Christ, yet because his authority and power was great in all the realm, his faith might spread abroad a sweet smell far and wide. For we know that the gospel grew of small beginnings; and therein appeared the power of the Spirit more plainly, in that one grain of seed did fill a whole country in a small space. Philip is first commanded by the angel to go toward the south; the angel telleth him not to what end. And thus doth God oftentimes use to deal with those that be his, to prove their obedience. He showeth what he will have them to do; he commandeth them to do this or that, but he keepeth the success hidden with himself. Therefore let us be content with the commandment 527527     “Simplici Dei imperio,” with the simple command of God. of God alone, although the reason of that which he enjoineth, or the fruit of obedience, appear not by and by. 528528     “Statim,” instantly. For although this be not plainly expressed, yet all the commandments of God contain a hidden promise, that so often as we obey him, all that work which we take in hand must needs fall out well. Moreover, this ought to be sufficient for us, that God doth allow our studies, when as we take nothing in hand rashly or without his commandment. If any man object, that angels come not down daily from heaven to reveal unto us what we ought to do, the answer is ready, that we are sufficiently taught in the Word of God what we ought to do, and that they are never destitute of counsel who ask it of him, 529529     “Illius os,” at his mouth. and submit themselves to the government of the Spirit. Therefore nothing doth hinder and keep us back from being ready to follow God, save only our own slothfulness and coldness 530530     “Incuria,” carelessness. in prayer.

To the way which goeth down to Gaza. All the learned grant that that is called Gaza here which the Hebrews call Haza. Wherefore, Pomponius Mela is deceived, who saith that Cambyses, king of Persia, called that city by this name, because when he made war against the Egyptians, he had his riches laid up there. It is true, indeed, that the Persians call treasure or plenty, Gaza; and Luke useth this word shortly after in this sense, when as he saith that the eunuch was the chief governor of the treasure of Candace; but because that Hebrew word was used before such time as Cambyses was born, I do not think but that it was corrupt afterwards, the letter ה (heth) being changed into g, which thing we see was done in all others almost. The epitheton waste is added for this cause, because Alexander of Macedonia laid waste that old Gaza. Also Luke refuteth those who make Constantinus the builder of the second and new Gaza, who affirmeth that it was an hundred and fifty years before; but it may be that he beautified and enlarged the city after it was built. And all men confess that this new Gaza was situate on the seacoast, distant twenty furlongs from the old city.




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