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8. Church Persecuted and Scattered

1And Saul was consenting unto his death. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2And devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. 3But Saul laid waste the church, entering into every house, and dragging men and women committed them to prison. 4They therefore that were scattered abroad, went about preaching the word. 5And Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ. 6And the multitudes gave heed with one accord unto the things that were spoken by Philip, when they heard, and saw the signs which he did. 7For from many of those that had unclean spirits, they came out, crying with a loud voice: and many that were palsied, and that were lame, were healed. 8And there was much joy in that city. 9But there was a certain man, Simon by name, who beforetime in the city used sorcery, and amazed the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: 10to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is that power of God which is called Great. 11And they gave heed to him, because that of long time he had amazed them with his sorceries. 12But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13And Simon also himself believed: and being baptized, he continued with Philip; and beholding signs and great miracles wrought, he was amazed. 14Now when the apostles that were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit: 16for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay my hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit. 20But Peter said unto him, Thy silver perish with thee, because thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money. 21Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God. 22Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee. 23For I see that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. 24And Simon answered and said, Pray ye for me to the Lord, that none of the things which ye have spoken come upon me. 25They therefore, when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem, and preached the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans. 26But an angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza: the same is desert. 27And he arose and went: and behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was over all her treasure, who had come to Jerusalem to worship; 28and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29And the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30And Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31And he said, How can I, except some one shall guide me? And he besought Philip to come up and sit with him. 32Now the passage of the Scripture which he was reading was this,

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;

And as a lamb before his shearer is dumb,

So he openeth not his mouth:

33In his humiliation his judgment was taken away:

His generation who shall declare?

For his life is taken from the earth.

34And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other? 35And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture, preached unto him Jesus. 36And as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37And Philip said, If thou believest with all thy heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, for he went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached the gospel to all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

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28. He read Esaias. The reading of the prophet showeth that the eunuch did not worship a God unadvisedly, according to the understanding of his own head, whom he had reigned to himself, but whom he knew by the doctrine of the law. And surely this is the right way to worship God, not to snatch at bare and vain rites, but to adjoin the word thereunto, otherwise there shall be nothing but that which cometh by chance and is confused. And certainly the form of worshipping prescribed in the law differeth nothing from the inventions of men, save only because God giveth light there by his word. Therefore, those which are God’s scholars do worship aright only, that is, those who are taught in his school. But he seemeth to lose his labor when he readeth without profit. For he confesseth that he cannot understand the prophet’s meaning, unless he be helped by some other teacher. I answer, as he read the prophet with a desire to learn, so he hoped for some fruit, and he found it indeed. Therefore, why doth he deny that he can understand the place which he had in hand? For because 544544     “Nempe... agnoscit,” namely, he acknowledgeth. he manifestly confesseth his ignorance in darker places. There be many things in Isaiah which need no long exposition, as when he preacheth of the goodness and power of God, partly that he may invite men unto faith, partly that he may exhort and teach them to lead a godly life. Therefore, no man shall be so rude an idiot 545545     “Idiota,” unlearned. which shall not profit somewhat by reading that book, and yet, notwithstanding, he shall, peradventure, scarce understand every tenth verse. Such was the eunuch’s reading. For seeing that, according to his capacity, he gathered those things which served to edification, he had some certain profit by his studies. Nevertheless, though he were ignorant of many things, 546546     “Si multa eum latebant,” though many things escaped him, were hidden from him. yet was he not wearied, so that he did cast away the book. Thus must we also read the Scriptures. We must greedily, and with a prompt mind, receive those things which are plain, and wherein God openeth his mind. As for those things which are hid from us, we must pass them over until we see greater light. And if we be not wearied with reading, it shall at length come to pass that the Scripture shall be made more familiar by continual use.




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